The royal family has been talked about a lot in the news lately, but this time the focus isn’t on Prince Harry. Prince William is currently undergoing a historical trip to Israel. While royal family members have visited the country in the past, they’ve never undergone an official trip until now. This trip is important politically, but as a tattoo shop we only have one question- is William going to follow in his ancestor’s footsteps and get a tattoo while he’s there?
As we mentioned, Prince William isn’t the first member of the British royal family to go to Israel. At least three of William’s ancestors have gotten inked after traveling to Jerusalem. They received the tattoos after making pilgrimages to the Holy City.
Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, who later went on to become King Edward VII, (he was the oldest son of Queen Victoria if you need a little refresher on the royal family tree), began the tradition in 1862. Later, two of his children, Prince Albert Victor and Prince George (who later became King George V) made the same trip. They also both received tattoos.
Most members of the British royal family refrain from getting tattoos. Otherwise, Prince Harry would probably be covered. However, in this instance, the Queen might forgive it. After all, it’s become common for people that go on a Christian pilgrimage to Jerusalem to get tattoos marking the journey.
Christian pilgrimage tattoos actually date all the way back to the early 7th century. Islam was beginning to spread into Egypt, which at the time was mainly a Coptic Christian society. After the Muslims conquered Egypt, they forced many of the Christians to convert to Islam. Some resisted and received crosses across their inner right wrist to mark them as Christians.
Over time, the Coptic Christians adopted this practice. They began the tradition of tattooing themselves with the crosses, and for many centuries Coptic Churches would only grant entry to those that could prove their Christian identity with this ink. These days, a tattoo is seen as a must for many Christian pilgrims that visit the Holy City.
So now you’re probably wondering what design the past royals received on their visit? There aren’t any pictures, but reportedly the tattoo depicted the Jerusalem cross and the three crowns of Israel. King Edward VII’s sons got the same the same design, and they also got some sweet dragon tattoos on a visit to Japan.
No one really knows who tattooed the British royalty back in the day, but it’s said to be the Razzouk family. They are Coptic Christians that specialize in tattoos, who came to Jerusalem in 11750 from Egypt. The Razzouk’s still have a tattoo shop today, and have been tattooing pilgrims for the past 700 years!
They use a special technique, utilizing hand-carved stamps that have been passed down through the family for generations. A lot of these stamps have now found their ways into collectors or new tattoos artists, but the family still has a few originals ones. In fact, Wassim Razzouk who is still tattooing today still has what he believes is the original stamp that William’s ancestors were tattooed with.
As cool as it would be to see the British royalty picking up the tradition of getting tattooed again, chances are it won’t happen. Prince William’s trip so far has mainly been about addressing the Israel-Palestine issue. However, there’s still hope! If you want a tattoo worthy of a royalty though, contact us to book an appointment!