Ambassador Hotovely
Ambassador HotovelyIsrael Embassy in London

The United Kingdom is experiencing a historic week after losing its longtime monarch, Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday. Israel National News spoke with Israel's ambassador to the kingdom, Tzipi Hotovely, about the nation's mourning, the ceremonies surrounding the event, the new king, and the nation's new prime minister.

"The national mourning period will continue until the end of the funeral, which is to take place a week from Monday. The funeral will begin at 11 in the morning and all of the world's leaders will come to London. It will be a historic event in which all of the world's leaders will come to part from Queen Elizabeth the Second who was a symbol and was seen by the British as their number-one diplomat. The one that greeted so many leaders throughout the years," says Hotovely.

Concerning what's currently going on in London she says: "The streets in London surrounding the royal palaces are full of people who are coming to express their mourning with letters and flowers, children are bringing toys like the famous British Paddington Bear. There is a heavy stream of visitors. On Friday, when King Charles the Third first arrived at Buckingham Palace, 100 thousand people gathered on the streets. You couldn't get there. It was a packed event, filled with flowers and goodbye letters."

The ambassador says that the unmediated meeting and handshakes between the new king and the masses in front of the palace are not a deviation from the ceremonial rules. "Part of the royal household's goals is to be connected with the British public. In most nations, the royal households are collapsing or are not existent, and in Britain, the royal household has held on to its position for all of these years because the was a thin line between those who were far from the public eye and those who were in it at every moment. The Queen participated in numerous public ceremonies until her health got worse."

The ambassador says that every day until the funeral, the diplomatic staff will attend a different event surrounding the monarch's death. On Monday, the staff will sign the book of condolences in the Foreign Office, later on, they will place a wreath at Buckingham palace, and after that, there will be a reception for the foreign missions. "This whole time were are in contact with the team that represents the president who had a personal connection to the queen," Hotovely explains, mentioning the meeting between the current president's father, President Haim Herzog, and the late monarch. During the meeting, he told her that his family descends from King David and that her family also descends from King David.

"We at the embassy see the funeral as a diplomatic event. President Biden will be there, and top leaders from Europe and all the world over will be there. All planned events with mass gatherings were canceled. We were told to cancel events. There's a very orderly protocol for when the 'London Bridge is Down' plan, the death of the monarch, is put into effect."

On the connection that the protocol draws between events that are separated from each other by decades, Hotovely says that "Britain very much respects tradition and the word 'protocol' means the rules of the ceremony, which are very clear here, they are very respected. Mabey that's the secret behind the power of British royalty. People in Israel ask why the British are so excited about it, why people say that they loved the queen so much; someone in my community said that he feels as if he lost his grandmother. The first reason is the connection with the generation that lived through World War Two. It was the time of Churchill's, London's, and the whole kingdom's heroic stand through the German Blitz. These are burnt into their collective memory. The queen is described as a bridge to Britain's finest hour. The second thing is that the queen was clean of politics. They liked that there was an apolitical force that would unite everyone."

This love didn't diminish because of the scandals and gossip surrounding the royals, including the Princess Diana scandal. "The love for the queen reached from one end of the kingdom to the other. I never met anyone, even someone who disliked the royal household, who didn't like the queen. Her magic was that she was able to touch the hearts of everyone in the kingdom, serving as a unifying force. Before I left Israel to begin my position I told myself that there was a good chance that I'll be the last ambassador to see the queen. I hoped that I wouldn't be, but unfortunately during my tenure, it happened, and the era of Queen Elizabeth the Second has ended.

During the two years that I've been here the excitement surrounding the queen's platinum jubilee celebrations and the love for everything the queen says stood out, there's a feeling that she speaks like the nation's comforting mother. People feel orphaned. Many people don't remember Britain without a queen," says Hotovely adding that "when they sang 'G-d Save the King' on Friday, people had trouble getting the words out of their mouths. It seemed strange, they always had a queen."

On Charles's chance of following in his mother's tremendous footsteps, Hotovely says: "It will be a very different period, first of all, because of his age. She was the youngest monarch to sit on the throne and he is the oldest. This is a very different time for Britain's standing in the world and therefore it will be a different reign, but it's still too early to eulogize the British throne. The British wish to depend on this establishment, they wish to see the monarchy as a remnant of their former greatness."

We also asked Hotovely's opinion on the new prime minister, Liz Truss. The ambassador says that Truss is "a good friend of Israel, and not just as a cliche. She has visited Israel, a accompanied her on her first visit and she wants to strengthen ties with Israel. The fact that for the first time there's a prime minister who said in her election campaign that she will seriously consider moving the embassy to Jerusalem, shows that the connection between the two nations is getting stronger. She is also very tough on the Iran issue, which makes Israel happy to see that Britain is on our side."