updated 11/16/2007 1:22:25 PM ET 2007-11-16T18:22:25

Prince Charles' office rejected an invitation for his top aides to visit Israel because of concerns the trip would be used to bolster the country's international image, a newspaper reported Friday.

The London-based Jewish Chronicle said it had seen e-mails exchanged earlier this year between the prince's private secretary, Sir Michael Peat, and deputy private secretary Clive Alderton discussing an invitation for the pair to visit Israel as guests of the country's parliament, the Knesset.

The trip was intended to lay the groundwork for a possible visit by Charles, heir to the British throne.

The newspaper reported that Peat initially replied to Israel's ambassador to Britain at that time, Zvi Heifetz, that "the invitation is hugely appreciated and Clive and I would love to come."

But it reported that in a later message to Peat, Alderton wrote: "Safe to assume there is no chance of this visit ever actually happening?

"Acceptance would make it hard to avoid the many ways in which Israel would want (Charles) to help burnish its international image. In which case, let's agree a way to lower his expectations."

Israel's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report.

Charles' office, Clarence House, did not deny the e-mail exchange was genuine, but said it was "simply an internal e-mail about a possible visit by Clarence House officials to Israel."

"Any potential visit by (Prince Charles) the Prince of Wales would be undertaken at the recommendation of the government," a spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity in keeping with palace policy.

No British royal has ever paid a state visit to Israel, although Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem in 1994.

He attended a ceremony honoring his mother, Princess Alice of Greece, for saving Greek Jews during World War II.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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