Kate loved living in Jordan as young child, William says

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The following day, William is expected to visit Jerusalem's Old City, the Mount of Olives and the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in the Garden of Gethsemane, where his great-grandmother, Princess Alice - Prince Philip's mother - is buried.

The historic trip, which coincides with the 70th anniversary of Israel's founding, comes at a time of heightened tensions in the region.

The aide added "the non-political nature of His Royal Highness's role - in common with all royal visits overseas - allows the spotlight to be brought to bear on the people of the region: their cultures, their young people, their aspirations, and their experiences".

Though billed as non-political, it's a high-profile visit for William, 36, second in line to the throne. Britain's withdrawal from the region after World War II led to the eventual establishment of Israel and Jordan.

In the evening, Prince William will give a speech at a party thrown in honour of Queen Elizabeth's birthday at the British Ambassador's house, before departing for a private dinner with the Crown Prince Hussein at Beit al Urden, the King's private residence, where the Duke will be staying overnight.

After touching down at Marka Airport in Jordan, he was greeted by Crown Prince Al-Hussein bin Abdullah.

In Jordan, he was welcomed Sunday by 23-year-old Crown Prince Hussein, a member of the Hashemite dynasty Britain helped install in then-Transjordan a century ago.

He noted that she had spent nearly three years as a child in Jordan, when her father worked in Amman for British Airways.

The Duke also made reference to his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, who remained at home with their three children, saying her happy childhood memories perfectly reflected Britain's ties to Jordan.

On the five-day tour, the duke will also visit Ramallah in the West Bank, where he will focus on issues facing refugee communities and meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

This trip is coming at a time of unprecedented trade and cooperation between Israel and the United Kingdom, even as significant political differences between London and Jerusalem persist, witnessed by Kensington Palace's announcement last week that William's visit to the Mount of Olives will be part of his visit to the "Occupied Palestinian Territories". Hussein, Abdullah and Crown Prince Hussein all attended Sandhurst, the British military academy, as did William. A Middleton family photo shows Kate, her younger sister Pippa and her father in the ruins of Jerash, the ancient Roman city William was due to visit on Monday.

Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin condemned the royal itinerary characterization of east Jerusalem as "occupied", calling the reference a "distortion" that can not "change reality".

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organization, 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.

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