Israel’s President Isaac Herzog meets Prince Charles in London

Had Britain’s 95-year-old monarch Queen Elizabeth been in better health, the visit to the UK this week by President Isaac Herzog might have been a state visit rather than just an official visit or a working visit.

The queen, after absenting herself from several engagements she traditionally attends, did make her first public appearance last week after her role had previously been filled by other royals, especially on Remembrance Day. On Wednesday of last week, she was pictured at Windsor Castle with General Sir Nick Carter, Britain’s chief of defense, and she made a point on Sunday of attending the christenings of two of her great-grandchildren.

However, when it came to receiving visiting heads of state, it was not the queen, but Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, who received Herzog on Monday morning.

The Prince of Wales welcomed Herzog at his residence Highgrove House, in Gloucestershire with a warm handshake.

As had been anticipated in advance, the two discussed the urgency of taking action in the face of global warming and climate change. The prince is a very keen environmentalist, a factor noted by Herzog who thanked him for his personal leadership over many years, in matters of environmental concern.

 Britian's Prince Charles attends the annual National Service of Remembrance in Whitehall, London, Britain, November 14, 2021.  (credit: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE/POOL) Britian’s Prince Charles attends the annual National Service of Remembrance in Whitehall, London, Britain, November 14, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE/POOL)

Herzog also emphasized that the environment is one of the core issues of his presidency, and conveyed Israel’s commitment to reaching zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Relating to Israel’s technological innovations, Herzog said that Israel has much to contribute to global efforts in the attempt to conquer the negative effects of climate change and to advance innovative green technologies.

In stressing the importance that Israel attaches to relations with the UK, Herzog related to his own personal affinity to Britain as the son of a Belfast-born World War Two army major who participated in the Normandy landings and the liberation of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp.

Herzog also mentioned that he was the direct descendant of rabbis on both sides of his father’s family, who had served communities across Britain.

Prince Charles had been in Israel in January 2020 to participate in the Fifth World Holocaust Forum that coincided with the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp. Herzog thanked him for his participation, and for his ongoing important work in promoting Holocaust education.

The two also discussed regional issues, and the existential threats that Israel still faces.

Before taking his leave, Herzog presented the prince with a gift that was both personal and public – a Hebrew University of Jerusalem Compassion and Perseverance Nursing Scholarship at Hadassah Hebrew University Henrietta Szold School of Nursing in memory of the prince’s paternal grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, who sheltered a Jewish family in Greece during the Holocaust, and who has been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous among the Nations.

The princess is buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, and Prince Charles visited her grave last year.

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