It was always a racing certainty that next week’s visit to the Middle East by Prince William, featuring the first official visit to Israel by a member of Britain’s Royal Family, would prove to be a diplomatic minefield.
It now turns out, however, that rather than playing the role of minesweeper-in-chief Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has left one of its own landmines defiantly in place – and is guiding Prince William straight for it.
Prince William is to visit Jordan, Israel and the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority. That much has been known for some time, as has the ostensible aim of this visit to be “apolitical” and not take sides between Israel and the Arabs. Really?
The official itinerary for the royal visitor, published a few days ago by his office at Kensington Palace (but using briefing notes that will have been provided by the FCO) says that the last leg of his visit will be to the “Occupied Palestinian Territories”.
This deeply tendentious phrase is standard fare at the FCO. But what’s raised eyebrows is that the itinerary goes on to say, after HRH meets Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and speaks at the UK consulate in east Jerusalem,