TEL AVIV: Britain’s Prince William strolled along a trendy Tel Aviv boulevard with Israeli Eurovision song contest winner Netta Barzilai on Wednesday to the delight of cheering onlookers.
But there was no “chicken-dance”, Barzilai’s signature move performed as part of her women’s empowerment hit “I’m Not Your Toy” during the 2018 song-fest.
William, second in line to the throne, is on the first official visit by a British royal to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
He later travelled to the occupied West Bank and met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Muqata, the headquarters of the Palestinian government in Ramallah, where William was given a red carpet welcome that included an honour guard and a band. The prince and Abbas made no immediate comments to reporters.
In downtown Tel Aviv, William walked with the purple-braided singer along Rothschild Boulevard. The tree-lined avenue at the heart of the city’s financial districts contains shops, restaurants and galleries.
The day before he had focused in his first engagements on honouring the memory of victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
William and Barzilai chatted at a kiosk, described as one of the first refreshment stands in Tel Aviv. They were served “Gazoz”, a retro Israeli soft drink made from flavoured syrup and fizzy water.
“We love William,” a clutch of female tourists, standing among a cheering crowd held back by barriers, shouted at the 36-year-old prince. He smiled in response.
On Tuesday, William, wearing a button-down shirt and long trousers, walked along the Tel Aviv shore as beachgoers snapped photographs.
After meeting Barzilai, he chatted with environmental activists at a rooftop reception at Beit Ha’ir, a Tel Aviv museum, where he poked fun at his choice of attire for the beach visit a day earlier.
“Yesterday, it was a little bit tricky: I turned up like this on the beach. I was like, really?”
Asked if he should have opted for swimwear, William said: “No. I wouldn’t. You see, there’s too many cameras around. But another time I might have done. I’ll get beach-ready for Israel the next time.”
In the West Bank, territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, the prince is scheduled to meet Palestinian youngsters after seeing Abbas. William met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
Unlike William, Netanyahu did perform the chicken dance when he met Barzilai in May. The video, which the prime minister posted on his social media pages, went viral.
William’s trip, which ends on Thursday with a visit to holy sites, is at the behest of the British government. Until now it had been British policy not to make an official royal visit until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was resolved.
British officials have given no detailed explanation for the change in policy, other than saying that the time was right for the visit, during which William hoped to shine a spotlight on the young generation of Israelis and Palestinians and their hopes for the future.