William prays during visit to Jerusalem's Western Wall


The Duke of Cambridge prayed at the most sacred site in Judaism when he visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.

With a kippah skull cap on his head, William placed a written prayer on a folded piece of paper into one of the cracks in the wall, held his right hand against the ancient stones and spent around a minute in quiet contemplation with his eyes shut.

The visit came on the last day of William's historic five-day tour of the Middle East and the duke ended his stay by touring iconic religious sites revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem's old city.

He was escorted around the Western Wall holy site by Britain's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitch.

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A large crowd of Jewish worshippers watched William as he prayed and one man shouted "We love you".

The Western Wall is the most sacred site accessible to Jews as it is the only remaining part of the Temple, held to be uniquely holy in Judaism.

The site of the Temple Mount now houses the Dome of the Rock mosque, the cause of violent disputes. For religious reasons, Jews are forbidden to go there in case they tread on the site of the Holy of Holies, thought to be located under the Dome of the Rock.

King Herod built the Western Wall in 20BC during an expansion of the Second Temple. When the Romans destroyed the temple in 70AD, the retaining wall survived.

Duke of Cambridge
Duke of Cambridge

For hundreds of years, Jews came to pray in the small area of the wall that could be seen, posting folded pieces of paper containing prayers in cracks in the ancient stones.

It became known by Europeans as the Wailing Wall, a translation of the Arabic el-Mabka, which means place of weeping.

That description came from the Jewish practice of mourning the destruction of the temple and praying for its rebuilding at the site of the Western Wall.

In 1967, following the Six Day War, Israelis dug below the ground of the wall, exposing two more levels of the wall. They also cleared the area around the wall to create the Western Wall Plaza for visitors to see it more easily.