Britain's Prince William visits an observation point on Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City, June 28, 2018.
(photo credit: THOMAS COEX/POOL VIA REUTERS)
What does it take to catch a glimpse of a prince? He should be easy to spot when there’s an entire entourage tailing him or when there are crowds chanting his name and security everywhere, but to tell you the truth, it wasn’t.
All week I’ve felt nostalgia as royal fever gripped the country. I met Prince William’s younger brother, Prince Harry, in December 2015 in my journalist capacity (and did a brilliant job of embarrassing myself in front of him to the point where he was doubled-over in laughter) – and I thought catching a glimpse of the future king in Jerusalem’s Old City would be a cinch in comparison.
Boy, was I wrong.
At 9:30 a.m. on Thursday morning I left my home, an electric energy pulsing through my veins. I ran to catch the bus and watched Twitter closely for any imminent sign of his arrival in the Old City. I saw a few posts that people had put up of themselves waiting at the Western Wall for him, and I kept hoping I’d make it in time. I got off the bus at King George Street, half-walking half-running down the hill to get to Mamilla Mall. From there it would take about 15 minutes to get to the Western Wall – rumored to be one of his first stops on his tour of the holy city.
As I entered the Old City there was a buzz of excitement in the air, his name was on most people’s lips. I even overheard a group of haredim (ultra-Orthodox) talking about it as I hurried down Or Hahayim Street.
To my horror, I checked Twitter again and saw that the prince had already arrived. I ran, flat out, toward the Western Wall Plaza, bumped into a few people who too looked like they were trying to chase down the duke, and got caught in the crowds around the restaurants and the Old City square who seemed not to know the prince was around.
I still had another two flights of stairs to go as the clapping and excited shouts reached my ears. I could see the security barriers and the crowd below on the plaza, but I was still too far away to catch even a glimpse of the future king of England.
I heard singing in Hebrew and people chanting as I tried to get down the stairs in time, to no avail. As I made it through security I saw the back of his entourage already heading away from the wall and people dispersing.
I asked a security officer where he might be going next but received a grunt of an answer, then I saw a journalist who said she reckons he’s going to al-Aqsa Mosque next and I should just hang around the Muslim and Christian Quarters – the former not really an option for me.
I decided to quickly get an ice-coffee and make my way to the Christian Quarter. Of course, seeing as I haven’t spent much time there, I got lost trying to make my way through the maze of alleyways. I asked for directions to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, finding it amusing that tourists were directing me in my own city. I went to a Christian-Arab souvenir store to ask for more directions and got sent around in a circle.
Then I heard it, a commotion, the word “Wills” reached my ears. I ran towards it, thinking, “Yes, this is it,” and boom, I hit a dead end. I asked an older man who showed me the way to the Church – “Just go left and take the first right. You’ll see it.”
And two more minutes of flat-out running and I made it, hoping this time I’d get lucky. There was heavy security and one of the officers tried to stop me but his colleague said I could go through. I was breathless from all the running. “Has he come yet?” I asked a woman with a strong American accent. “Oh no, you came to see the prince? He’s gone – you just missed him, five minutes ago. He’s gone already.”
My heart sank. “Sorry sweetheart,” said a man who saw the look on my face. “What a shame,” responded a third person. Minutes later, several others arrived and were given the same answer.
I realized, it just wasn’t meant to be. My moment to see the one and only Prince William was gone.
Taking a deep breath, I slouched towards Jaffa Gate and realized I hadn’t finished my daily prayers, and so, off I went to chat with God instead.
I may have failed abysmally, but the thrill of the chase was totally worth it.
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