Leaked email reveals royal rebuff on Israel
‘No chance ever’ of Clarence House accepting invitation to visit Jerusalem Fear that Israel would want Charles ‘to help burnish its international image’
A LEAKED email exchange between two of Prince Charles’s closest aides exposes serious internal concerns about accepting an invitation to visit Israel.
Earlier this year, the Israeli embassy invited Sir Michael Peat, Prince Charles’s Principal Private Secretary, and Clive Alderton, Deputy Private Secretary, to Israel for a four-day visit as guests of the Knesset.
This was seen as a prelude to a possible official visit by the Prince, which would have been the first-ever state visit by a British royal to Israel.
Sir Michael — copying in Mr Alderton — initially 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,amonthlater, in an exchange of emails seen by the JC, Mr Alderton privately sought reassurance from his superior that the pair need never accept the invitation.
MrAlderton—whoseresponsibilities include foreign affairs and relations withethnicandfaithcommunities — 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.”
When contacted by the JC with evidence of the email exchange, a spokesman for the Prince of Wales sought 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 wouldbeundertakenattherecommendation 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.”
When asked about the implications of Mr Alderton’s comments, the outgoing Israeli ambassador, Zvi Heifetz, who issued the invitation, said: “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.”
He added: “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.”
A spokesman for the Israeli embassy also declined to comment on an internal email exchange, but emphasised its and Israel’s “very good relations with the royal family” as exemplified by Ms Itzik’s “fruitful and amicable discussion” with the Prince.
Sir Michael, 58, has worked for the Prince since 2002. In 2005, he became Principal Private Secretary to the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford, he joined the royal household in 1990, serving as Keeper of the Privy Purse and Treasurer to the Queen.
Mr Alderton, a former consul-general in Lille, is on secondment from the Foreign Office and was appointed as Deputy Private Secretary to the Prince and his wife last year. In February he accompanied them on a visit to Kuwait, where the Crown Prince received them.
No member of the British royal family has yet visited Israel in an official capacity. Prince Philip was there in 1994 to attend a Yad Vashem ceremony to honour his late mother, and Prince Charles attended the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Prince Edward visited Israel in September, but the royal household insisted that this was a private trip.
“Prince Charles is a great friend of the Jewish community,” commented Henry Grunwald, president of the Board of Deputies and chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council. “I am sure he will be deeply disturbed that some people might interpret these unfortunate emails as conveying any hostility to Israel at all. I hope that his advisers will be able to co-ordinate their diaries so as to enable them to visit Israel in the near future.”
Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “The tone of the email is deeply unfortunate.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
The Prince of Wales ( left) with his Private Secretary, Sir Michael Peat, referred to as “M” in the leaked email