The visit will mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp

By Simon Perry
January 06, 2020 12:30 PM
Credit: Christopher Jackson/Getty Images

Prince Charles is set to make one of the key addresses at the Holocaust memorial in Israel as the world marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

In what aides at his office on Monday called the “highest level British visit there has ever been to Israel or the Occupied Territories,” Charles, 71, is one of a small number of international dignitaries invited to speak at the gathering at the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem on January 23. Although he has visited for funerals, he has never been to Israel for an official visit.

He will also spend some time with British Holocaust survivors at the events at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. He is looking “forward to meeting a number of British Holocaust survivors . . . a remarkable group of people with whom his royal highness has long valued his relationship,” Charles’s deputy private secretary Scott Furssedonn-Wood said at a briefing at Clarence House.

Prince Charles, who is Patron of The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, speaks to Auschwitz survivor Ivor Perl during a reception at St. James’ Palace in London in 2017.
| Credit: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images

He is honored to “have the opportunity on behalf of the United Kingdom honor the memory of all those who were lost in the Holocaust and to reaffirm his determination that hatred, extremism and intolerance must never prevail,” Furssedonn-Wood added of the visit to Israel. Charles will also lay a wreath on behalf of the United Kingdom.

He also hopes to be able to make a poignant trip to a special site for his family — the resting place of his paternal grandmother Princess Alice. Although his officials “are still looking at details of the program, he certainly hopes to be able to do that,” one says. He last did so in 2016 when he as in the country for the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Charles at the final resting place of his paternal grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece.
| Credit: Source: Clarence House Twitter

The day after the Holocaust memorials, Charles will head to Bethlehem, where he will meet with President Mahmoud Abbas at his official residence. With religious tolerance and interfaith understanding and respect a key theme of the short tour, he also hopes to visit the Church of the Nativity.

Amid heightened security concerns following the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, the palace said that the plans for the trip are being constantly reviewed but the trip was going ahead. “We always keep our plans under review,” one source added. “We are monitoring the situation closely.”

Meanwhile, Charles’s wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will represent the U.K. at the official anniversary ceremony held at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau camp on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In 2018, Prince William made the first official visit by a member of the British Royal Family to Israel. During his visit, William paid his respects to the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust during a somber visit to Yad Vashem.

Prince William attends a ceremony at the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem in 2018.
| Credit: Ariel Schalit/AP/REX/Shutterstock

“Terrifying. [I’m] trying to comprehend the scale,” he said as he viewed a powerful display of the victims’ shoes, Haaretz reported. He wore a traditional kippah on his head to show his respect as he laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.