In what would be an historic first formal visit, a senior member of the British royal family is planning an official trip to Israel in 2017, a tour that would coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, according to a UK Jewish community leader.
While royals have visited Israel in the past, no representative of the British monarchy has ever come to country on an official “royal tour.” An official royal visit to Jewish state would be the first in the Jewish state’s 68-year existence, during which nearly every other country on earth has been visited by a representative of the Crown.
The community leader said the details of the visit were not yet finalized but that the trip would be led by a senior member of the royal family.
While the visit would coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, issued by foreign secretary Lord Arthur Balfour in 1917, it is unclear whether the trip would officially mark the document’s centenary. Instead, the visit may be formally billed as a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jerusalem in which General Allenby lead the British Army to a victory over the Ottomon Empire.
The British Embassy in Israel could neither confirm or deny that a trip was being considered, saying, “Any planned tours will be announced in due course in the usual way.” The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it had not received a request or correspondence regarding a royal visit, but a spokesman told The Times of Israel that 2017 trips had not yet been finalized and it was possible that a visit is being planned.