Price William to skip visiting tree honoring ancestor at Yad Vashem

"We hope that he will address the honorable connection between the history of the Holocaust and the courageous actions of his great-grandmother in his written remarks in the Yad Vashem guest book"

June 24, 2018 15:30
2 minute read.
britsh royal holocasut memorial berlin

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and his wife Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge, visit the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Germany July 19, 2017. (photo credit: HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/REUTERS)


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The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum staff regrets that Prince William will not a visit to a tree planted to honor his great-grandmother who rescued Jews in Nazi-occupied Athens during his planned visit to the site on June 26.

Instead, he is expected to honor the memory of his great-grandmother – who was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations in 1993 for saving the life of Jewish widow Rachel Cohen and the lives of two of her sons in Nazi-occupied Athens – by visiting her grave in Church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem.

“How is it possible that the prince is going to visit Yad Vashem and not visit the tree,” an anonymous source from Yad Vashem told The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Ma'ariv. “Is it for fear of upsetting the Arabs?”

In a statement sent to the Post, a Yad Vashem spokesman said the museum was neither "shocked nor mad" William will skip visiting the tree, rather the museum "regrets" the visit "is not included as part of his tour."

"Yad Vashem regrets that this element is not included as part of his tour. The Duke of Cambridge will tour Yad Vashem's Holocaust History Museum, participate in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, visit the Children's Memorial and sign the Yad Vashem guest book. We hope that he will address the honorable connection between the history of the Holocaust and the courageous actions of his great-grandmother in his written remarks in the Yad Vashem guest book," the museum said.

During his historical visit to the region, Prince William is set to meet Henry Foner, a Holocaust survivor who, as a child, was given asylum in England because of the Kindertransport.

The UK accepted roughly ten thousand Jewish children from Germany, Poland and other central European countries. These children were often the only members of their extended families to survive the war.

Yad Vashem published Foner's book about the experience and he will present it to Prince William during the visit.

Cohen’s late husband, Haimaki Cohen, served King George I of Greece – the father of Princess Alice – in 1913. The king offered Cohen his aid in anything he might wish as a reward for his service.

During the Nazi occupation, his son remembered the promise and appealed to the princess, who sheltered the son, his brother, and Cohen’s widow in her home.

The Duke of Edinburgh, Philip Mountbatten, is the son of Princess Alice, which makes her Prince William’s great-grandmother.

“The Duke’s first engagement in Israel, on the morning of [June] 26, will see him visit Yad Vashem – Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. You will recall that The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Stutthof concentration camp last year, as well as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin – so this visit will be immensely poignant,” the UK Embassy in Israel said in a statement.

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