Prince Charles has said the lessons of the Holocaust are in danger of being forgotten, in remarks which commentators have linked to Donald Trump’s ban on Syrian refugees entering the US.
The heir to the British throne was speaking at the World Jewish Relief charity’s annual dinner in London’s Guildhall last night, three days after Trump signed an executive order indefinitely banning Syrian refugees and suspending entry for people from seven Muslim countries.
Charles told the guests: “In my own life, I have always tried to reach across the boundaries of faith and community; to extend a helping hand wherever one might be needed.”
He did not refer to Trump by name but said it was “vital to learn lessons from the horrors of the past”.
The charity’s work was particularly needed “at a time when the horrific lessons of the last war seem to be in increasing danger of being forgotten”, he continued.
Charles spoke of his pride in being a patron of the charity because it sets an example of “true compassion and true friendship”.
He recalled the “indescribable persecution” suffered by Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott, who faced the horrors of the Buchenwald concentration camp but went on to captain Britain’s weightlifting team at the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games.
Charles has previously made similar comments about the lessons of the Holocaust, and is thought to have drafted his speech before the announcement of the executive order.
However, his support for inter-faith relations is a signal that he is likely to view Trump’s actions with dismay.
Another of his key themes, climate change, is also under fire from the new US administration.
Charles’ comments came amid a furore over British prime minister Theresa May’s invitation to Trump to make a state visit to the UK.
More than 1.6m people have signed a petition to withdraw the invitation. Lord Ricketts, a top diplomat who has been Britain’s ambassador to France, national security adviser and head of the Foreign Office, suggested saving the Queen embarrassment by delaying Trump’s visit for three years.
Charles would be expected to take part in hosting Trump and his entourage.
At the dinner, Ephraim Mirvis, chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, was explicit in his condemnation of Trump’s “totally unacceptable” executive order.
“There are so many millions of refugees are receiving no hope from countries closing their borders to them – and not much hope from the United States of America of all countries.
“President Trump has signed an executive order that seeks to discriminate based totally on religion or nationality,” he said.
“We as Jews, perhaps more than any others, know what it’s like to be the victims of discrimination.
“In the Jewish religion, when it comes to acts of kindness and benevolence, we recognise no borders. Wherever he or she might be, they are counted as what we call mishpacha – part of our global family.”
Clarence House insisted Charles was merely repeating his long-held views against religious persecution and was not aiming at Trump.
A royal source said: “The topics raised in the prince’s speech are very familiar ones for the prince. He has raised these issues over many years and is not seeking to directly link them to anybody who is currently the focus of attention.”
The World Jewish Relief charity was founded in 1933 to support people fleeing persecution in Nazi Europe.
It created the Kindertransport, which brought thousands of Jewish refugee children to Britain from Germany between 1938-40.
It now supports vulnerable people in 18 countries through activities including disaster relief, employment skills and providing older people with food, medicine and companionship.