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Prince William Tours Roman Ruins in Jordan, Meets Refugees

Britain’s Prince William on Monday toured the ruins of the Roman city of Jerash, a major tourist attraction his wife visited as a child when she and her family lived in Jordan.

Along the route, William and Jordan’s Crown Prince Hussein stopped in front of an enlarged photo on an easel that showed the former Kate Middleton, her father and younger sister posing against the backdrop of the Jerash ruins. For almost three years in the 1980s, the family lived in Jordan where Michael Middleton worked for British Airways.

 

William then stood in the same spot where the photo was taken and said: “Need to come back with the family for this shot.” He pointed at his father-in-law in the photo, saying that “Michael’s looking very smart in his flip-flops.”

 

The visit to Jerash came on the second day of a five-day tour that also takes William to Israel and the Palestinian territories. It’s a high-profile foreign trip for William, second in line to the throne, and comes at a time of widening rifts between Israelis and Palestinians.

 

Later Monday, he’ll be the first British royal to visit the Holy Land in an official capacity. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict looms large, despite the ceremonial nature of the trip.

 

William, an avid soccer fan, arrived in Jordan on Sunday afternoon, at a time when the England-Panama World Cup game was under way. The Jordanian crown prince recorded it for him, and the two watched it later Sunday on a huge TV screen at Hussein’s residence. England thrashed Panama 6-1, advancing to the second round.

 

Before settling down to soccer, William spoke at a garden reception at the British Embassy, praising Britain’s historic ties with Jordan and the kingdom’s commitment to hosting Syrian and Palestinian refugees.

 

Over decades, Jordan has taken in waves of refugees, most recently those fleeing civil war in Syria. Jordan hosts about 660,000 registered Syrian refugees, but says the actual number of displaced Syrians in the kingdom is twice as high.

 

Jordanian government officials on Monday were quoted as saying that Jordan could not absorb more refugees. The comments came as Syrian government forces advanced in southern Syria, near Jordan’s border, leading to more displacement.

 

During the Jerash tour, William met with dozens of children attending a U.N.-sponsored education program, known as Makani, that serves Syrian refugees as well as Jordanian children from overburdened host communities.

 

The children greeted the two princes in the amphitheater of Jerash, where they showed him some of their art work, including paintings. One girl painted with her foot.

 

The ruins of Jerash are one of Jordan’s main tourist attractions.

 

In a speech Sunday, William said the Middletons have fond memories of their time in Jordan, and that Kate was sorry she couldn’t join him on the trip to the kingdom. Kate gave birth in April to the couple’s third child, Louis.

 

 

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