prince edward 224.88 cor.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Prince Edward will begin a four-day visit to Israel on Wednesday, the first by a British royal in more than a decade, embassy officials said on Tuesday.
The 43-year-old earl of Wessex is coming on what is being billed as a "working visit" at the invitation of the Israel Youth Award program, which is an affiliate of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award that was started by Edward's father, Prince Philip, half a century ago.
The award enterprise is the largest international youth program in the world, with 600,000 participants in more than 120 countries, said Michael Gross, the co-chairman of the Israeli branch.
That affiliate was started in Tel Aviv 15 years ago, and has around 4,000 participants from every sector, Gross said.
The program, geared for those aged 14 to 24, works through municipalities and schools and receives logistical support from the Education Ministry.
Edward, who is chairman of the International Council of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, is scheduled to take part in an unveiling ceremony for a peace mosaic in front of the Haifa Municipal Building on Thursday, and will distribute awards to participants in the Israeli program.
On Friday, he will visit Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, where a tree has been planted in honor of his grandmother, Princess Alice, who was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations in 1993 for risking her life to save three Jews by sheltering the family in her Athens home during the Holocaust.
The prince will also attend a fund-raising dinner at the British Ambassador's Residence on Wednesday evening for the Israeli youth program, and will have dinner with Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger in Jerusalem on Friday night.
There has never been an official British royal visit to the State of Israel, a British Embassy spokesman said on Tuesday.
Prince Charles came in 1995 for prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's funeral, Philip came for a ceremony at Yad Vashem in 1994 for his mother, Princess Alice, and the late princess Margaret once popped over the border during a visit to Jordan.
The duke of Kent visited in 1998 as vice chairman of the British Overseas Trade Board.