UK ambassador: Relationship with Israel 'moving even closer'

Batya Levinthal

i24NEWS International Affairs Correspondent

2 min read
(L-R) UK Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan, then UK foreign secretary (and current Prime Minister) Liz Truss, Israel's Foreign Minister (and current Prime Minister) Yair Lapid and Israeli Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely in London, UK, November 29, 2021.
Stefan Rousseau/Pool via AP(L-R) UK Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan, then UK foreign secretary (and current Prime Minister) Liz Truss, Israel's Foreign Minister (and current Prime Minister) Yair Lapid and Israeli Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely in London, UK, November 29, 2021.

Neil Wigan discusses the Queen's relationship with the Jewish state in an interview with i24NEWS

British Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan said that the relationship between the UK and Israel is "moving even closer" in an interview with i24NEWS shortly before departing for Queen Elizabeth II's funeral in London.

Speaking to international affairs correspondent Batya Levinthal, he cited free trade agreement talks launched with the government of Israel as an example of the strong ties between the two countries.

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"We really hope to push the official relationship along as well as the people to people relationship, which the royal family is clearly a really big part," Wigan said.

Wigan, who was appointed as ambassador to Israel in June 2019, also discussed the Queen's relationship to Israel from his residence in Ramat Gan outside of Tel Aviv where British nationals and Israeli dignitaries came to pay their respects.

Levinthal asked Wigan about his personal encounters with the Queen, her funeral, the unofficial royal boycott of the Jewish state, how the Israeli public views the British monarchy and the future of ties between the royal family and Israel. 

"I was very lucky. I met the Queen a few times both in private and in public and she was lovely. She had a fantastic sense of humor but also an amazing amount of experience. She visited 120 countries and became Queen when Israel was only 5 years old, which just shows her depth of experience. Her political knowledge was really impressive," Wigan said.

Asked why the Queen never visited Israel, he assured that there was never a ban on her traveling to the Jewish state, noting recent trips by the royal family -- including Prince William in 2018 and Charles two years ago. 

"There are really warm relations between Israel and the royal family," he declared.

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