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12 October 2023

Charles holds talks with Chief Rabbi at Palace over ‘horrors’ in Israel

12 October 2023

The King has held talks with the Chief Rabbi at Buckingham Palace to discuss the horrors of events in Israel and how to support interfaith harmony in Britain in distressing and difficult times.

Charles welcomed Sir Ephraim Mirvis for a private audience in the London royal residence on Thursday afternoon as the Israel-Hamas conflict continued to gather pace.

The King personally expressed his deep care and concern for the Jewish community in the UK who are suffering grief, fear and anguish.

Their conversation is said to have covered the horrors of recent events in Israel, ways to support interfaith harmony in Britain in distressing and dangerous times, and the continued hope that a path to peace can be found internationally.

Following the meeting, Sir Ephraim said the King’s words offer strength to the Jewish community “at this dark time”.

In a statement, he said: “At a time when Jews around the world are grieving following the unspeakable evil perpetrated against loved ones in Israel, I want to thank His Majesty King Charles III for expressing in person his deep concern, and his support for the Jewish community. His words of comfort and solidarity give us strength at this dark time.”

It comes a day after Charles’ condemnation of Hamas’ “barbaric acts of terrorism” in Israel attacks at the weekend, with the Palace saying the King is being actively updated on developments.

The King also spoke to Israeli President Isaac Herzog by telephone on Wednesday, offering his thoughts and prayers to all those suffering.

At least 100 people – reservists and active duty soldiers in the Israel Defence Forces – are believed to have travelled from the UK to Israel to serve in the Israeli military as it mounts a retaliatory campaign against Hamas.

Concerns remain high for the safety of British citizens in the region as the war, ignited by a bloody and wide-ranging Hamas attack on Israel at the weekend, has already claimed at least 2,600 lives.

The Government has organised flights to fly British nationals out of Israel, with the first flight set to leave Tel Aviv on Thursday.

Charles, head of the Church of England, greeted the Chief Rabbi in the King’s Audience Room at the Palace.

The pair were pictured looking solemn as they stood side by side, and with the King gesturing as he welcomed Sir Ephraim to the meeting amid difficult times.

The pair have met previously through Charles’ work as the Prince of Wales on interfaith tolerance, and Sir Ephraim took part in the King’s coronation in May, greeting him in unison with faith leaders at the end of the service.

Sir Ephraim is the 11th Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth since the office was introduced in 1704.

He is traditionally seen as the figurehead of British Jews, but is only officially representative of the United Synagogue, the biggest wing of orthodox Judaism in the UK.

He was installed in September 2013 during a ceremony attended by Charles when he was Prince of Wales, the first time a member of the royal family was present.

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