William toasts Queen and joins Crown Prince of Jordan to watch England vs Panama

PA

The Duke of Cambridge began his historic trip to the Middle East by bonding with the Crown Prince of Jordan as they watched England’s World Cup match against Panama.

Crown Prince Hussein recorded the game for the pair to view later as William arrived in Jordan just as the second half between manager Gareth Southgate’s team and Panama began.

The duke, who is president of the FA and a keen Aston Villa fan, spent the remainder of the day avoiding the scoreline and swore the travelling media not to tell him.

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It was reminiscent of the famous episode from the 70s sitcom Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? where the characters Bob and Terry try to stay clear of any reference to an England vs Bulgaria game before they can watch the evening highlights.

After he revealed he would be watching the England vs Panama match at the end of the day the duke told the media travelling with him: "On pain of death, please don't tell me the score."

William's five-day visit to the Middle East is hugely symbolic, and will also see him visit Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories - the first time a member of the monarchy has visited on behalf of the Government.

The Duke of Cambridge attends the Queen's birthday party in Jordan
The Duke of Cambridge attends the Queen's birthday party in Jordan

The Israelis and Palestinians have been locked in a decades-long conflict that in essence is a dispute over land.

The Palestinians believe they have been subject to Israeli military occupation with many forced into exile and those who remained enduring an uneasy co-existence with the Jewish state.

While with hostile nations around it in the region, Israelis will say they have had to fight for survival.

William was keen to travel to the region and his presence in Ramallah will be interpreted as an acknowledgement of the plight of Palestinians, while in Jerusalem he will be showing solidarity with the Israelis.

The duke is likely to avoid commenting publicly about the political situation wherever he travels as his thoughts could be seized upon by the other side.

In a speech to notable figures from Jordanian life he highlighted the work their country has played in the region supporting its neighbours when in need, especially the hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians who make up a large proportion of the kingdom's population.

At a @UKinJordan reception to celebrate The Queen's Birthday, The Duke chats with Cpt. Alia Twal, a First Officer for Royal Jordanian. pic.twitter.com/3gsRNx2x1D

-- Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) June 24, 2018

William, speaking during a garden party marking the Queen's birthday, said: "I greatly admire the resilience you in Jordan have shown in the face of the many security and humanitarian challenges that have confronted you as a result of conflicts in this region.

"The way in which you opened your doors to hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, not to mention your longstanding commitments to Palestinian refugees, is remarkable."

He told the guests at the residence of Britain's ambassador to Jordan: "You should be enormously proud of what you have done. In so many ways, Jordan as an open and stable society is a beacon of hope for many other people in the Middle East."

Earlier, the football theme had continued when William was presented with a wooden shield decorated with the crest of his beloved Aston Villa during a visit to the FabLab, a technology lab in the Jordanian capital of Amman.

The duke even pressed a button to start a laser cutter which produced the design, but before it sprang into action he spotted the Villa crest on the machine and said: "That's familiar. Very good. You have done your research.”

The centre was established by the Crown Prince's foundation, and Hussein showcased the work his organisation is doing to equip young people with technology.

William later had dinner with his host the Crown Prince at his home, where the duke also stayed, and the pair watched England thrash Panama 6-1.

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