AMMAN (Reuters) - Prince William visited ancient Roman ruins in Jordan where his wife Kate was photographed as a child on Monday, as part of a whirlwind tour in the run-up to the first British royal trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
The second-in-line to the British throne paused at the spot where Kate was snapped with her father Michael and sister Pippa in the 1980s, and laughed as he inspected a giant blow-up of the photo at the Jerash archaeological site.
His hosts in the Jordanian royal family set out to highlight other personal and political links between the kingdoms - as well as glancing references to Britain’s lingering colonial influence, still a highly divisive issue in the unstable region.
The visit comes 70 years after British forces withdrew from the Holy Land leaving behind the divisions that remain to this day.
Monday’s Jordan tour focused on more recent ventures, particularly the Jordan and Western-backed fight against Islamic State militants.
Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein took William on a tour of an elite army base where he watched a training exercise by the Quick Reaction Force, a counter-terrorism unit supported by British military trainers.
In a vocational college in Amman, the prince talked to Jordanians, including some of Palestinian descent whose forebears were among hundreds of thousands who fled or were expelled when Israel was created, becoming refugees.
William arrived in Jordan on Sunday and met a guard of honour dressed in the Bedouin-style garb of the old Jordanian army set up and commanded by Britain in the 1920s.
Later that evening, William himself citing the First World War-era Arab revolt, which ended centuries of Ottoman rule and paved the way for British imperialism.
The revolt is best known in Britain for the exploits of T.E. Lawrence, but it also led Jordan’s Hashemite dynasty to power.
“From the great Arab revolt of 1917 to the battle against Daesh today, our armed forces and security organisations have stood, and will continue to stand, side-by-side against shared threats and in defence of shared values,” William said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
Britain’s colonial “mandate” government, marked by competing promises to Arabs, Jews and colonial rivals, ended with the region’s partition into Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan.
William read a letter from his grandmother Queen Elizabeth, who visited in 1984, saying she was delighted that 34 years later her grandson would be able to experience the heartfelt welcome she had received in Jordan.
During a reception at the British embassy, William said his wife had loved living in the country and “was very sorry she could not come so soon after the birth of our son Louis”.
Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Andrew Heavens