Prince Charles is known for his keen understanding and study of the various religions that are practised not only in Britain but abroad. He is recongnised for fostering a dialogue between the West and Islam. In a speech titled “Unity in Faith” at Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt in March 2006, The Prince of Wales said: “We may have a human weakness to criticize and to compete with each other. But what we have in common, as people of faith, calls us beyond this towards mutual respect and understanding.”
“In the season of Advent, when Christians look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ and the season of peace and goodwill to all men, The Prince of Wales wants to draw attention to the importance of harmony and understanding between people of all faiths,” noted Clarence House.
On 17th December 2013 The Prince of Wales and HRH Prince Ghazi of Jordan will visit the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage and the Syrian Orthodox Church in Acton.
Charles has visited both Coptic and Orthodox centres of worship both home and abroad over the years. Meeting with members of both communities, he has voiced concern about the challenges that exist for Christians in Middle Eastern countries as well as get together with those who live in the UK, to discuss said challenges in his own country.
Both Princes will meet with representatives of the Christian faith from Turkey, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt during a reception held at Clarence House. Members from other faiths will also be invited and in attendance.
HRH Prince Ghazi of Jordan is the Chief Advisor for Religious and Cultural Affairs and Personal Envoy to H.M. The King of Jordan. For many years he has campaigned to foster a dialogue of Interfaith in the Middle East. In 2010 he suggested the World Interfaith Harmony Week to the UN General Assembly, in his proposal Prince Ghazi said: “The misuse or abuse of religions can thus be a cause of world strife, whereas religions should be a great foundation for facilitating world peace. The remedy for this problem can only come from the world’s religions themselves. Religions must be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
World Interfaith Harmony Week is now is celebrated the first week of February. “Its purpose is the promotion of interfaith harmony between religious and spiritual congregations the world over,” according to Clarence House.
Clarence House has issued the following information for the three engagements that the Princes will be attending:
Engagement 1: The Prince of Wales and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan will visit the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage. On arrival Their Royal Highnesses will be welcomed by The Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, The Countess of Verulam, The Lord Bishop of London, The Right Reverent and Right Honourable Richard Chartres and the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, Bishop Angaelos. The Prince of Wales and Prince Ghazi will attend a brief service, meet young people who volunteer for the church’s homeless ministry, attend a brief meeting to hear about the persecuted Church in the Middle East and join a reception for congregation members.
Engagement 2: The Prince of Wales and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, will visit the Syriac (Syrian) Orthodox Church, St Thomas Cathedral, Acton, London. On arrival The Prince of Wales and Prince Ghazi will be welcomed by the Deputy Lieutenant for the London Borough of Ealing, Mr. Robert Leader; the Archbishop of the Syrian Church in the United Kingdom, Archbishop Athanasius and the Parish Priest, Father Aphrem Ozan. Their Royal Highnesses will meet guests representing the Syrian Orthodox community in the United Kingdom to hear about their experiences and the experiences of their relatives in the Middle-East. Their Royal Highnesses will then attend a short service led by Archbishop Athanasius.
Engagement 3: The Prince of Wales and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan will attend an Advent reception in Clarence House to celebrate Christian Communities from the Middle East. Guests will include the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby; the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis; Baroness Berridge, elected Chair of the new All Party Group on International Religious Freedom and Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Faith and Communities.
As reported by Royal Central last month, for the past 20 years, Charles has been the patron of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. In 1993, his speech ‘Islam and the West‘ was printed throughout the Middle Eastern newspapers and was met with great fanfare. Farham Nizami, Centre director has known Charles for 20 years. “He makes all British citizens feel they are part of the grand historical narrative, I don’t think there is another major figure in the western world who has as high a standing as he has in the Muslim world. I would describe him as a friend of Muslims,” commented Nizami to The Telegraph.