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Prince William thought ‘long and hard’ about Gaza statement but it shouldn’t be taken as a call for a ceasefire, sources say – as it emerges the Foreign Office were aware of his intervention which was welcomed by No10


Prince William last night called for an end to the fighting in Gaza in an unprecedented royal intervention.

In an extraordinary – and symbolically significant – statement the future king said the ‘terrible human cost’ of the conflict had seen ‘too many killed’.

‘I, like so many others, want to see an end to the fighting as soon as possible,’ said William, 41. He also highlighted the desperate need for more humanitarian support for the civilians of Gaza and, notably, called on Hamas to release its remaining Israeli hostages.

His carefully-chosen words are the strongest yet by a senior royal in response to Israel‘s devastating military action in Gaza following the sickening terror attacks of October 7.

They came ahead of a visit by the Prince of Wales to the British Red Cross in London to discuss the spiralling humanitarian crisis in Gaza and beyond.

Prince William last night called for an end to the fighting in Gaza in an unprecedented royal intervention

Prince William last night called for an end to the fighting in Gaza in an unprecedented royal intervention

In an extraordinary ¿ and symbolically significant ¿ statement the future king said the 'terrible human cost' of the conflict had seen 'too many killed'

In an extraordinary – and symbolically significant – statement the future king said the ‘terrible human cost’ of the conflict had seen ‘too many killed’

So far, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry, almost 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza and a further 1.7million displaced. Pictured: Palestinians search for bodies and survivors (Feburary 20)

So far, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry, almost 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza and a further 1.7million displaced. Pictured: Palestinians search for bodies and survivors (Feburary 20)

His statement was issued with the knowledge of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and welcomed by Downing Street, which said his ‘measured’ call for an end to the fighting was in line with the Government’s position.

Royal aides emphasised that it was the ‘extent of the human suffering that is on display which had led him to make the statement he has today’.

They would not confirm whether it had the backing of the King. But father and son did meet in Norfolk at the weekend, where Charles is recuperating from cancer treatment.

However, the statement also puts the heir to the throne at risk of accusations of meddling.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has resisted calls to halt his military action, making clear that he will not stop until Hamas, which is classed as a terror organisation by the UK Government, is destroyed and Gaza is demilitarised.

He is now planning to invade the city of Rafah, a move which the United States has condemned.

And today sees a contentious, and highly emotive, debate in Parliament over the conflict.

Last night some Tory MPs criticised William, with suggestions that he risked undermining ‘the underlying principle of our constitutional monarchy’.

Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams said today's intervention was evidence that William was following elements of his father Charles' 'outspoken' approach to issues of the day. Pictured: The King attends this Sunday's service

Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams said today’s intervention was evidence that William was following elements of his father Charles’ ‘outspoken’ approach to issues of the day. Pictured: The King attends this Sunday’s service

Israel’s government spokesman Eylon Levy issued a more diplomatic response to the Prince’s intervention, saying: ‘Israelis of course want to see an end to the fighting as soon as possible, and that will be possible once the 134 hostages are released, and once the Hamas terror army threatening to repeat the 7 October atrocities is dismantled.

‘We appreciate the Prince of Wales’ call for Hamas to free the hostages. We also recall with gratitude his statement from 11 October condemning Hamas’s terror attacks and reaffirming Israel’s right of self-defence against them.’

Sources close to the heir to the throne acknowledged that the issues surrounding the crisis are highly politicised. But they stressed that having undertaken a well-received visit to both Israel and the West Bank in 2018, William had been following events closely.

Veteran diplomat who is advising heir to the throne 

Senior diplomat David Hunt accompanied the Prince of Wales on a visit to the headquarters of the British Red Cross yesterday.

Mr Hunt joined Prince William’s team last summer as a special adviser on foreign affairs from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The married father-of-two has more than 20 years of international experience.

He joined the Foreign Office in 2001 from the private sector. His experience includes a three-year stint as the ambassador to Lithuania and he was the consul general to the Kurdistan region of Iraq for over a year, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Prior to these roles, Mr Hunt was the consul general in Washington and worked for two years as a deputy director at the Foreign Office.

They said he had thought ‘long and hard’ about whether to say anything, but felt the overwhelming humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region required him to speak out.

So far, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry, almost 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza and a further 1.7million displaced, out of a population of two million. Hamas murdered almost 1,200 Israeli and foreign nationals on October 7, and took almost 250 hostages.

Royal aides insisted that William’s words should not be taken as a call for an immediate ceasefire or a comment on the issue of a ‘two state’ solution, but as an instinctive reaction to monumental loss of life both as a human being and ‘as a father’.

Many royal insiders see the statement as an example of William’s distinct vision for the monarchy and his desire to speak his mind on the issues that matter. Sources close to the prince have long told the Mail that he believes the institution ‘needs to better explain its own thinking, particularly in terms of its place in the world’.

The Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis shared William’s statement online and wrote: ‘Since his visit to the region in 2018, the Prince of Wales has shown a deep concern for the well-being of all those affected by the conflict in the Middle East and his words of compassion today, which I welcome, are yet further evidence of this’

However, Tory peer Stewart Jackson described the Prince’s intervention as ‘ill-timed and ill-judged’.

Conservative MP Andrew Percy, vice-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on anti-Semitism, said: ‘The underlying principle of our constitutional monarchy is that members of the Royal Family do not engage in contentious political issues of the day on which there are divergent and strongly held beliefs in this country.’

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said on X, formerly Twitter: ‘I’m not sure that our future King should be doing this. He should stick to the Baftas.’

William’s visit to the Red Cross was one of two engagements – the other to a synagogue next week – designed to recognise ‘human suffering’ from all sides as a result of the current conflict.

The Prince of Wales listened today to Pascal Hundt, senior crisis manager with the International Committee of the Red Cross, dialling in from Gaza

The Prince of Wales listened today to Pascal Hundt, senior crisis manager with the International Committee of the Red Cross, dialling in from Gaza

'Their Royal Highnesses hold all the victims, their families and their friends in their hearts and minds,' a spokesperson previously said on behalf of William and Kate, pictured

‘Their Royal Highnesses hold all the victims, their families and their friends in their hearts and minds,’ a spokesperson previously said on behalf of William and Kate, pictured

During the visit William spoke via video link to Pascal Hundt, senior crisis manager with the International Committee of the Red Cross, who is currently in Gaza. As he left the building there were two cries of ‘free Palestine’ from an otherwise enthusiastic crowd.

No 10 was informed in advance of the prince’s statement, and the Prime Minister is said to have told colleagues that the points made by William reflected his own views.

A Whitehall source said the prince’s comments would add momentum to the search for peace. ‘Whenever the Royals speak, people listen,’ the source said.

What William said… and what he meant 

What he said: ‘I remain deeply concerned about the terrible human cost of the conflict in the Middle East since the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7. Too many have been killed.’

What it means: Prince William reminds us that he and his wife have already voiced their ‘profound distress’ at the ‘horrors inflicted by Hamas’s terrorist attack’ last year. The new statement makes the simple humanitarian case that the cost of the conflict to civilians on both sides has been too high.

What he said: ‘I, like so many others, want to see an end to the fighting as soon as possible. There is a desperate need for increased humanitarian support to Gaza. It’s critical that aid gets in and hostages are released.’

What it means: The prince calls for an end to the fighting ‘as soon as possible’ but pointedly stops short of calling for the immediate ceasefire demanded by the Left, which critics warn could allow Hamas to re-arm. In a balanced statement he underlines the ‘desperate need’ to relieve human suffering in Gaza while also calling on Hamas to release the remaining hostages.

What he said: ‘Sometimes it is only when faced with the sheer scale of human suffering that the importance of permanent peace is brought home.’

What it means: Again, the prince makes the humanitarian case that the enormity of the crisis demands that the world makes a renewed effort to find a lasting solution to the decades-old Middle East crisis. He makes no explicit reference to the idea of a two-state solution, which is now opposed by Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but stresses the importance of a ‘permanent peace’, which suggests a long-term settlement between Israel and the Palestinian territories.

What he said: ‘Even in the darkest hour, we must not succumb to the counsel of despair. I continue to cling to the hope that a brighter future can be found and I refuse to give up on that.’

What it means: The prince appears to have thought long and hard about whether to intervene in such strong terms. But, possibly because of his own experience as the first royal to visit Israel and the West Bank in 2018, and because the hour is so dark, he has decided the potential benefits outweigh the risk of being accused of overstepping his constitutional role.



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