Charles and Camilla visit Coventry Cathedral during City of Culture celebrations

Camilla and Charles
Camilla and Charles (PA Archive)
13:36pm, Tue 25 May 2021
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The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have been visiting Coventry as part of celebrations marking its status as 2021 UK City of Culture.

Charles and Camilla toured the city’s cathedral on Tuesday, observing a service of thanksgiving which included the litany of reconciliation – recited every weekday at the site as an act of solidarity and wartime remembrance.

The original cathedral was bombed by the Luftwaffe during an air raid on the city on November 14 1940, which killed 600 people.

The ruins have remained as a monument to peace, while a new cathedral was built next door and consecrated in 1962.

That consecration, attended by the Queen, took place 59 years ago to the day.

Coventry Cathedral (PA Archive)

During Tuesday’s service, the prince sat in the chair the Queen used during her visit nearly six decades ago.

Charles – visiting the cathedral for the first time – and Camilla were met by the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Rev Dr Christopher Cocksworth, and the Dean of Coventry, the Very Rev John Witcombe.

They viewed the Altar of Rubble, built from the bombed-out remains of the original cathedral, including two fire-blackened roof beams forming a cross.

The royal couple were also shown the 1977 Reconciliation Statue, which shows a couple embracing across barbed wire, and toured the new cathedral.

Speaking during the thanksgiving service, the bishop said: “The consecration of Coventry Cathedral, 59 years ago, took place in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen, and it is a deep joy, Your Royal Highnesses, that you have graced us today with your presence.

“Throughout decades of public service, His Royal Highness has been dedicated to the nurturing of understanding between peoples, to building peace in the world and to the restoration of hope among those who might despair.

“Time does not allow me to pay proper tribute to those efforts to improve community relationships, deepen inter-faith understanding and raise the aspirations and life chances of young people.

“But, if I may, I would like to draw attention to the way – in the Balkans, in Northern Ireland, in the Holy Land and elsewhere – His Royal Highness has spoken poignantly about the futility of vengeance, the need for enemies to build bridges that reach out to each other so that they may become friends and the power of forgiveness.

“These principles lie at the heart of the ministry of Coventry Cathedral.”

The service took place before the building’s font, which is carved from a stone brought from Bethlehem.

As Charles and Camilla left the cathedral there were cheers from a crowd who had gathered outside.

The City of Culture showcase, taking in a broad spectrum of mediums, including theatre, music and street performances, had its official launch delayed because of Covid-19.

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