Prince William has made a pilgrimage to his great-grandmother’s tomb on the final day of his historic tour in the Middle East.
The Duke of Cambridge paid his respects to Princess Alice, who is famed for saving a Jewish family from the Holocaust.
She was formally recognised by the State of Israel for her bravery in harbouring a Jewish mother and some of her children from the Nazis.
At the entrance to the church, William took bread and salt, which is in keeping with Russian Orthodox tradition.
At the tomb, the duke laid flowers which had been picked from the garden of Philip Hall, Britain’s Consul General in Jerusalem.
Father Roman, head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem, recited a prayer “for the reposal of Princess Alice’s soul”, which the duke bowed his head to.
After the visit to the tomb, Father Roman said: “He said he found it profoundly moving. He was certainly moved to learn more about his family history and pay his respects to his great-grandmother in such a holy place.
“Because this is the personal part of his visit, this is his family. Everything else on this trip has been so official and public, this was half an hour of totally personal peace.
“We also shared a little joke. When I was showing him the family tree with the Russian links, I told the prince that I’d read somewhere that someone once asked Prince Philip if he had ever been to Russia, and that he had said ‘they murdered half my bloody family, so maybe I’ll go, maybe not’.
“The prince laughed and said ‘he would say that’.”
His personal visit came after the duke visited the Western Wall, and followed the centuries old tradition of placing a written prayer in a crack in the wall.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who joined the duke at the holy site, said: “Today we experienced a moment of history which will live long in the memory of Jews around the world.
“The Western Wall stands at the epicentre of our faith. To see the future monarch come to pay his respects was a remarkable gesture of friendship and a sign of the duke’s regard for the sanctity of Jerusalem.”
William’s great-grandmother was married to Prince Andrew of Greece, and died in 1969.
She was first buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, but her remains were moved in 1988 to fulfil her wishes of being interred at the Church of St Mary Magdelene, on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.
She is close to her aunt Elizabeth, the grand duchess of Russia.
Princess Alice was declared Righteous Among the Nations by Israel for protecting Mrs Cohen and her family during the Holocaust.
Earlier this week, William called her story “a matter of great pride for my whole family”.