Prince Charles' aides try to thwart Israel visit
Jewish Chronicle reports British royal's associates told Israeli ambassador invitation to visit Jewish state 'hugely appreciated', but expressed somewhat different opinion in leaked email exchange: 'Acceptance would make it hard to avoid the many ways in which Israel would want HRH to help burnish its international image'
The affair began at the beginning of July, when Knesset Chairman Dalia Itzik visited London and met with the British royal. Itzik and Prince Charles exchanged jokes and discussed politics and environmental issues.
At the end of the meeting, the Israeli official invited the Prince of Wales to visit the Jewish state for its 60th anniversary celebrations.
Following the meeting, the Jewish Chronicle reported Friday, Israeli Ambassador to Britain Zvi Heifetz invited Sir Michael Peat, Prince Charles’s principal private secretary, and Clive Alderton, deputy private secretary, to Israel as a prelude to a possible official visit by the prince.
In August, Sir Michael — copying in Alderton — expressed enthusiasm for the idea, replying in an email to the embassy, “The invitation is hugely appreciated and Clive and I would love to come.”
However, a private email exchange a month later between the two aides to the prince revealed a completely different picture.
In the exchange of emails seen by the JC, Alderton privately sought reassurance from his superior that the pair need never accept the invitation.
Alderton — whose responsibilities include foreign affairs and relations with ethnic and faith communities and who has accompanied Prince Charles and his wife on a visit to Kuwait in February— complained to Sir Michael in an email of being “pursued” by the ambassador, and asked: “Safe to assume there is no chance of this visit ever actually happening?
“Acceptance would make it hard to avoid the many ways in which Israel would want HRH (Prince Charles) to help burnish its international image. In which case, let’s agree a way to lower his expectations.”
'Very good relations'When contacted by the JC with evidence of the email exchange, a spokesman for the Prince of Wales tried to play down its significance.
“This is simply an internal email about a possible visit by Clarence House officials to Israel,” he told the JC. “Any potential visit by the Prince of Wales would be undertaken at the recommendation of the government.
"The Prince is continuing his regular engagement with the Jewish community in the UK and abroad. Next week, for example, he is attending a World Jewish Relief dinner in London, and further events are planned before the end of the year.”
Outgoing Israeli Ambassador Zvi Heifetz, who issued the invitation, also expressed his regret over the email exchange, but told the JC, “We have very good relations with His Royal Highness Prince Charles, who lately received our acting president, Dalia Itzik. We hope to see him one day in Israel.
“I have no comment to make about what was said by his deputy private secretary in the email that you quote. If true, I am sorry to hear it," he added.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband is expected to arrive in Israel on Saturday and may be asked to explain the palace's attitude.