14 December 2009
The eminent historian Andrew Roberts has said that the British government had a de facto ban in place on state visits by Queen Elizabeth II to Israel. "The true reason of course, is that the FO [Foreign Office] has a ban on official royal visits to Israel, which is even more powerful for its being unwritten and unacknowledged. As an act of delegitimization of Israel, this effective boycott is quite as serious as other similar acts, such as the academic boycott, and is the direct fault of the FO Arabists. It is, therefore, no coincidence that although the queen has made over 250 official overseas visits to 129 different countries during her reign, neither she nor one single member of the British royal family has ever been to Israel on an official visit,” Roberts told a gala dinner in London.
The historian’s work includes biographies of former British prime ministers Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain, as well as Hitler and Roosevelt. Roberts said that Britain had been at best "a fair-weather friend" to Israel, and even though Queen Elizabeth’s mother-in-law, Princess Alice of Greece, had been recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations for sheltering a Jewish family in her Athens home during the Holocaust, and is buried on the Mount of Olives, Prince Philip had not been allowed to visit his mother’s grave until 1994 – "and then only on a private visit."
"Perhaps her majesty hasn't been on the throne long enough, at 57 years, for the Foreign Office to get round to allowing her to visit one of the only democracies in the Middle East. At least she could be certain of a warm welcome in Israel, unlike in Morocco, where she was kept waiting by the king for three hours in 90-degree heat, or at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Uganda the time before last, where they hadn't even finished building her hotel,” Roberts remarked.
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