Prince William was left ‘deeply moved’ as he learnt about the individual stories of Holocaust victims through their possessions and first-hand testimonies today.
The royal paid his respects to the six million Jews murdered by the Nazi regime as he visited Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem, which recounts the extermination of the Jewish people during the Second World War.
The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis joined William for his visit and the pair later took part in an emotional ceremony in the museum’s Hall of Remembrance where the prince, who was wearing a kippah, or skull cap, laid a wreath.
Prince William pays his respects at a ceremony in Jerusalem today commemorating the six million Jews killed by the Nazis
The Duke of Cambridge lays a wreath as he visits the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Jerusalem today
The visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, is part of his tour of the Middle East
The Duke of Cambridge learnt about the individual stories of Holocaust victims during his visit to the memorial today
William took part in a simple but moving ceremony in the museum’s Hall of Remembrance where he laid a wreath
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge lays a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Jerusalem today
William was clearly affected by the experience of seeing the remnants of concentration camp victims’ belongings and exhibits showing the Nazi factories of deaths. He told two survivors who fled to Britain: ‘There’s a lot to take in. It’s not easy.
He looked particularly pained when showed the shoes of Jews who perished at the Majdanek concentration camp in Lublin, German-Occupied Poland.
The shoes are buried beneath a glass floor in Yad Vashem’s Hall No 6, which documents the process of extermination at some of the camps including Auschwitz.
‘That’s terrifying. Trying to comprehend the scale and the numbers is terrible,’ he said
William, 36, spent an hour and a half touring the memorial and museum, viewing exhibits which tell the story of the Nazis’ rise to power and their eventual decision to implement Hitler’s final solution to wipe out Europe’s Jews.
He was shown around by Yad Vashem’s chairman, Avner Shalev, and its director of libraries, Dr Robert Rozett, as well as Britain’s chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, who later said a prayer for the souls of the martyred victims of the Holocaust at a moving remembrance ceremony.
The Chief Rabbi said: ‘Today’s visit to Yad Vashem was profoundly moving and deeply inspiring. The Duke of Cambridge is a figurehead for a younger generation and he has previously mentioned to me that he feels a particular responsibility to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust are learned.
‘As the generation of survivors sadly dwindles, there can be no more powerful indication of our commitment to protecting their legacy than the presence of the future Monarch at Yad Vashem.’
William stands next to chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev, during the memorial in Jerusalem today
Prince William speaks to schoolchildren at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum today
For the 36-year-old William, the trip marks a high-profile visit that could burnish his international credentials
Prince William and chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev, stand during the ceremony in Jerusalem today
William’s kippah was a gift from the Chief Rabbi and was inscribed inside: ‘Let us go up to the House of the God of Jacob. For the Torah shall come forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’ (Isaiah 2:3)
Among the survivors the prince met was Henry Foner, who was just six when his prescient father Max Lichwitz, a prominent lawyer in Berlin, sent his son on the Kindertransport to Britain in 1938.
Bewildered and homesick, he was fostered by a Jewish family in Swansea, the Foners.
Henry had already lost his mother at a young age and from the moment they parted, his father wrote him an almost daily postcard in German.
On Henry’s seventh birthday Mr Lichwitz telephoned him from Berlin but as his son had already forgotten his native language they began to converse in English.
Henry’s ‘adopted’ parents kept every postcard and letter he was ever sent from his family and gave them to him on his wedding day.
They which have since been compiled into a book, Postcards to a Little Boy.
Mr Lichwitz, whose courage and foresight to part himself from his only child saved his life, was deported to Auschwitz on December 9, 1942 and was murdered a week later.
William lays a wreath during a ceremony commemorating the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust
William and Avner Shalev speak to a girls’ choir at the remembrance museum during the ceremony in Jerusalem today
The memorial has recognised William’s great-grandmother, Princess Alice, for her role in rescuing Jews during the Holocaust
William arrived last night for what is the first-ever official visit by a member of the British royal family to the region
Speaking before today’s service of remembrance, Mr Foner said: ‘I found myself on a train when I was six from Berlin to Britain.
‘People took those children from the goodness of their hearts. I missed my family, obviously, so they sent me a postcard each day, mostly my father.
‘The people who adopted me, they never pretended to be my parents, they never tried to replace them. They said ‘Henry, when the war finishes we will see what happened to your family.
‘So I called them uncle and aunt and we changed my name from Heinrich to Henry and Lichwitz became Foner, because it wasn’t a good idea to have such a German sounding name. I became Henry Foner and I stayed that way, because they were my family. ‘
Of the postcards he received, Mr Foner recalled: ‘My father wrote ‘how are you, hope you are being a good boy’…..all the things you write to a six year old kid. Write more, always write more!
Yad Vashem, whose Hebrew name literally means a monument and a name, is dedicated to preserving the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and of the many Gentiles who aided them.
It is situated on the western slope of Mount Herzi, overlooking the city of Jerusalem.
William, who is making a five-day visit to the Middle East, received a short tour of the museum before meeting with two Holocaust survivors of the Kindertransport who shared their personal experiences with him.
The Duke of Cambridge visits the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Jerusalem this morning
The Duke of Cambridge (second left) and Lord Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi in the UK (second right), arrive at the memorial
William, who is making a five-day visit to the Middle East, will receive a short tour of the museum in Jerusalem
The black books in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Jerusalem
In the Hall of Names, described by the museum as a virtual cemetery for those whose resting place is unknown, the names and personal details of millions of victims have been recorded on Pages of Testimony, symbolic tombstones.
There is also an exhibition about the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp with artefacts collected to describe in detail how people were systematically murdered by the Nazis.
The museum attempts to tells the story of the Holocaust through individual stories and ultimately the story of a single person.
‘Those postcards stopped when the war started. But they kept those postcards and gave the, to me when got married. I had a photobook made for my children of them.
‘My father was taken hostage by the Germans and ended up in Auschwitz. I found out after the war when my grandmother, who spoke English, wrote to me.’
Mr Foner said he felt ‘excited’ to meet Prince William as he wanted the chance to express his gratitude to Britain for saving his life.
He said: ‘I was a soldier in the British army, I did service, so did he. I’m really very, very grateful to Britain. They saved my life, it’s as simple as that.
The Hall of Remembrance at what is Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust,
Prince William made the deeply moving visit to Jerusalem’s holocaust museum on his first full day of engagements in Israel
Prince William (centre) and chairman of Yad Vashem Avner Shalev (second right) enter the memorial museum
The duke will be joined by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis during his visit to the museum, when he will leave a floral tribute
‘I guess it’s sort of a fairy story in a way. A little refugee kid is sent to a country where he knows nobody, luckily he is sent to a nice family who look after him and his family write to him every day.
‘And then one day he gets to the chance meet the prince to say thank you. I think it’s like a fairy story. ‘
The Duke will later travel to the residence of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu where he will be welcomed to Israel by the politician and his wife before meeting the country’s President Reuven Rivlin at his residence.
Later William will visit the city of Jaffa where he will meet young people involved in the work of two organisations focused on co-existence through football between the youngsters of different religious and ethnic communities – the Equaliser and the Peres Center for Peace.
He will attend a football event hosted by the two charities and will have a chance to spend time with children and teenagers involved in several of their projects, including one focused on empowering young girls.
In the evening the duke will give a speech at a reception at the residence of Britains Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey before returning to Jerusalem.
The duke arrived in Israel yesterday from Jordan, the first stop in his five-day visit to the Middle East, where he had made a pilgrimage to the spot in a Roman ruined city where his wife posed for a picture when just a little girl.
William spoke about how Kate ‘loved’ living in Jordan as a youngster, when he arrived in the country.
He was able to see for himself the beautifully preserved first century Roman city of Jerash where the duchess, father Michael and sister Pippa visited in the 1980s and posed as a trio for a picture.
The £4,300-a-night Jerusalem hotel where Prince William will enjoy hummus and falafel then tea and scones behind rocket-proof glass during historic trip as the first British royal to visit Israel in 70 years
British officials had put off the possibility of a royal tour to the region because of instability and violence.
His home for the next three nights will be a £2,500-a-night-suite on the top floor – either the Jerusalem Suite, the Royal Suite or the Presidential Suite – with stunning views of the Old City.
William will be staying in a £2,500-a-night-suite on the top floor of the the historic King David Hotel in Jerusalem
William will be staying in either the Jerusalem Suite, the Royal Suite or the Presidential Suite of the hotel
The hotel has provided 50 rooms for the delegation of the Duke who is staying in a top-floor suite
Staff at the hotel in Jerusalem have been briefed in advance of how to behave when they serve the prince
Unlike President Trump, who took over 1,100 rooms across Jerusalem when he visited last year – including the entire King David – William and his entourage, including embassy officials, have booked a mere 50.
But staff at the hotel, where rooms can cost up to £4,300 a night, have been briefed in advance of how to behave when they serve the prince – and the rider list is high.
According to Sheldon Ritz, director of operations at the hotel, the British embassy have told his team not to initiate a conversation with the prince or even offer to shake his hand.
He told the Jewish News: ‘I’ll be the one going up with him in the elevator, taking him to his suite and explaining how everything works, because it’s pretty high-tech, so I’ll be with him for about ten minutes, but they said I shouldn’t initiate any conversation.
The King David Hotel in Jerusalem has stunning views of the Old City – from behind rocket and bullet proof glass.
The King David Hotel has welcomed world leaders, royalty and famous faces from across the globe
The British embassy have told the hotel’s team not to initiate a conversation with the prince or even offer to shake his hand
The King David Hotel was previously the headquarters of the British Mandatory authorities of Palestine
‘These are the kind of things I have to remember.
‘It’s a little funny, the idea of asking Israelis not to initiate conversation, but I’m from South Africa originally, part of the Commonwealth, so I should be OK to hold my tongue and not speak unless spoken to!
‘I was invited to the British Embassy a few weeks ago for training for people who were going to be in contact with the Prince, so we could learn the protocol.
‘So for instance the first time you meet him you say ‘Welcome Your Royal Highness,’ then after that you call him ‘Sir.’
‘We were told you shouldn’t put your hand out to welcome him – you have to let him initiate the handshake.
‘It’s not often that we have royalty in Israel because we’re not a monarchy, and the visit is very historic as you know, so we’re all very excited.
Rocket-proof glass, freshly made scones and the finest tea shipped from England will be among the facilities on offer
The hotel’s director of operations revealed some of the preparations that go on behind the scenes for high-profile guests
William will be joining a host of national figures who have stayed at the hotel including Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin
The King David Hotel, pictured in 1930. In 1946 it was bombed by Zionist militants disguised as workmen and waiters
‘He’s so well-liked, it’s unbelievable. He’s staying here for three nights, which is quite a long time, and we feel very honoured that the whole time he’s in the region he’s staying with us.’
He added: ‘The media attention has been huge, just like when Trump came in May, but for the Prince we haven’t needed to bring in extra staff because it’s a different operation – the Prince’s delegation is taking only around 50 rooms, whereas Trump’s took 1,100 rooms, with all 230 rooms at the King David plus rooms in another 19 hotels.
‘We’re all very excited. I mean who doesn’t know Prince William?’
He also said security was ‘very tight’, explaining: ‘Everyone who comes in gets screened, the hotel itself is set off the street, and the Prince will look out on to amazing views of the Old City from behind rocket-proof and bullet-proof glass.’
Mr Ritz said they had been told that when William goes around the world he likes to try the local delicacies and they had some Middle Eastern food ‘hummus, falafel, shawarma, typical Israeli stuff’ ready for him – but also a proper English high tea.
‘We cater to people from all over the world….so we’re going to bring him some very good tea from England, the best we can buy, and we won’t forget the milk!
The Duke of Cambridge arrives at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport at 4.16pm yesterday
He was welcomed by minor dignitaries but will meet with the Israeli President and Prime Minister in the coming days
Prince William walks a red carpet framed by British and Israeli flags at Israel Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv yesterday
The Duke of Cambridge tries his hand at a mixing desk during a visit to Al Quds College in Amman, Jordan, yesterday
Young Jordanians and Syrian refugees at the collage are enrolled in the media school, training in film and music production
William on a mixing desk at Al Quds College yesterday, where students are training in a partnership with Middlesex University
‘Also, on his arrival, we’re going to make some scones, with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
‘We heard that there’s a big debate in England about whether you put the cream or the jam on first, so we’ll leave them to the side and let the Prince decide! ‘
In 1946 the King David Hotel , which was then the headquarters of the British Mandatory authorities of Palestine, was bombed by Zionist militants disguised as workmen and waiters, killing 91 people.
William has become the first member of the British royal family to officially visit the Jewish state in its 70-year history.
The future king arrived at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport at 4.16pm yesterday, walking onto a red carpet framed by British and Israeli flags
William, 36, was welcomed by a small line-up of minor dignitaries but will meet with the Israeli President and Prime Minister, as well as the Palestinian President, in the coming days.
A diplomatic source told the Mail they felt it was time to ‘get one under their belt’ and pave the way for further visits to the region. They also hope it will highlight the fact the the peace process is far from resolved.