June 28, 2018 / 6:25 AM / in 2 months

Britain's Prince William visits Jerusalem tomb of honoured great-grandmother

* Princess Alice saved Jewish family during Holocaust

* William on final day of Holy Land visit

* Assured Palestinians they have not been forgotten

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM, June 28 (Reuters) - Britain’s Prince William made a pilgrimage on Thursday to the Jerusalem tomb of his great-grandmother, Princess Alice, who was honoured by Israel for sheltering Jews in Nazi-occupied Greece during the Holocaust.

William is on the final day of his tour of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, the first official visit by a senior member of the British royal family to the areas.

Princess Alice of Battenberg and Greece, who was Queen Elizabeth’s mother-in-law, is buried in a crypt in the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem’s walled Old City.

A devout Christian, she died in London in 1969 and had asked to be buried in Jerusalem, next to her aunt, who like Alice had become a nun and founded a convent.

In 1993, the princess was named as one of the “righteous among the nations”, the highest honour Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial bestows on non-Jews, for hiding three members of the Cohen family in her palace in Athens during World War Two.

Both William’s father, Prince Charles, and grandfather, Prince Philip, have visited her grave site near the Garden of Gethsemane, in an area Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Planting a tree at Yad Vashem in his mother’s honour in 1994, Prince Philip said: “I suspect that it never occurred to her that her action was in any way special.”

William met ancestors of the Cohen family at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence on Tuesday after visiting the memorial to the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

After paying tribute to Princess Alice, he was scheduled to visit the hilltop holy esplanade in Jerusalem housing al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock and Judaism’s Western Wall below.

The site in the Old City is revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount where Biblical temples once stood. Its future is at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The prince visited the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Wednesday, meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and touring a refugee camp, on a day which also took him to the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv.

In a speech in Jerusalem on Wednesday, he assured Palestinians “you have not been forgotten”.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014 and the divide between the two sides has widened in the years since amid bouts of violence. (Additional reporting by Stephen Farrell and Ali Sawafta; editing by John Stonestreet)

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