Prince WIlliam has arrived in Jordan to be met by Crown Prince Hussein for his historic tour of the Middle East.
Though billed as non-political, the visit is a high-profile one for the 36-year-old heir to the British throne.
William was welcomed in Jordan by 23-year-old Crown Prince Hussein, a member of the Hashemite dynasty that Britain helped install in then-Transjordan almost a century ago.
William was greeted by an honour guard after his plane landed at a small airport on the outskirts of the capital of Amman.
In two days in the kingdom, he will meet Syrian refugee children as well as visiting a technology outreach group for young Jordanians and tour a vocational training college with links to Britain’s Middlesex University.
The Prince leaves for Israel on Tuesday (AEST), where he’ll meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah at a time of a widening rift between the two sides.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict typically looms large, even during largely ceremonious visits, and William will have to manoeuvre carefully to avoid missteps.
Last week, an Israeli cabinet minister complained about the royal itinerary’s reference to Jerusalem as part of the “Occupied Palestinian Territories”, calling it a distortion of reality.
Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed it in a move not internationally recognised. Israel considers the eastern sector, home to sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, as an inseparable part of its capital.
Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state they hope will also include the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said she welcomes William’s visit to the West Bank as a chance to see Palestinian reality under Israeli occupation first hand.
“This visit is the first of its kind and represents an opportunity to enhance relations between Prince William and the Palestinian people on all the levels,” she said.
William is visiting a region where three decades of British rule between the two world wars helped establish some of the fault lines of today’s Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Britain’s withdrawal from the region after World War II led to the eventual establishment of Israel and Jordan.