British Prince William praised Sunday's "historic ties and friendship" with Jordan and the Kingdom's commitment to Syrian and Palestinian refugees as he embarked on a historic five-day tour that also included Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Although he is described as apolitical, it is a high-profile visit for William, 36, the second on the throne. He meets with young scientists, refugees and political leaders in a turbulent region that has controlled Britain between the two world wars.
In Jordan, the prince was married to Crown Prince Hussein, 23, a member of the Hashemite dynasty that helped Britain install Transjordan nearly a century ago. The pair capped Sunday Sunday with an England World Cup match against Panama, which the heir to the Jordanian throne had previously recorded, the Press Association said. William is president of the British Football Association and an enthusiastic supporter of the football club Aston Villa.
After Williams arrived on Sunday afternoon, the two princes visited a technology lab for digital production, which was supported by the Kronprinz Foundation. Students from Hussein University of Technology presented some of their projects, including a multi-axis robotic arm and a color robot. William received a wooden shield with the arms of Aston Villa.
At a reception later Sunday on the occasion of his grandmother's birthday, Queen Elizabeth II, he praised Jordan's resilience, which had taken refugee waves over the decades.
"The way in which you have opened your doors to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, not to mention your long-term commitment to Palestinian refugees, is remarkable," he said.
He said his wife Kate was "very sorry" that she could not join him so soon after her son Louis's April birth.
He found that she spent almost three years as a child in Jordan when her father worked for British Airways in Amman.
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William said that her family is very "reminiscent of staying in Jordan" and that the positive experience is not unique.
"The exchange between our two countries is real and deep," he said. "Work, study, tourism and family relationships Our historical bonds and friendship take place in the lives of thousands of people who regard both countries as their homeland."
In two days in the kingdom, the prince will also visit a vocational school with links to British Middlesex University, meet Syrian refugee children and visit the Roman ruins of the archaeological site of Jerash.
On Monday night, the prince will travel to Jerusalem for the very first official visit of a member of the royal family to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
He will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank, at a time when the divide between the two sides is widening.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict usually threatens to grow, even on largely solemn visits, and William must carefully maneuver to avoid missteps.
Last week, an Israeli cabinet minister complained about referring the royal journey to Jerusalem as part of the "Occupied Palestinian Territories" and called it a distortion of reality.
Israel conquered East Jerusalem in 1967 from the Jordanian Middle East War and annexed it to a movement that was not internationally recognized. Israel views the eastern sector, which houses holy places for Jews, Christians and Muslims, as an inseparable part of its capital. The Palestinians are seeking East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state that they hope will include the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Hanan Ashrawi, a high-ranking Palestinian Liberation Organization official, said she welcomed Williams's visit to the West Bank as an opportunity to see firsthand the Palestinian reality under Israeli occupation. "This visit is the first of its kind and represents an opportunity to enhance relations between Prince William and the Palestinian people at all levels," she said.
William visits a region where three decades of British rule between the two world wars has helped to build some of the fault lines of today's Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Britain's withdrawal from the region after the Second World War finally led to the founding of Israel and Jordan.
Jordan's ruling Hashemite dynasty has strong ties with Britain.
The late King Hussein's second marriage was a British citizen, Antoinette Gardiner, who bore the title of Princess Muna and was the mother of the current monarch, King Abdullah II., War. Hussein, Abdullah and Crown Prince Hussein participated in the British military academy Sandhurst, as did Wilhelm.