Charles: Hatred still lurks in the human heart 75 years after Auschwitz

The Prince of Wales will warn that “hatred and intolerance still lurk in the human heart” when he joins world leaders at an event marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Charles has flown to Israel for the commemoration and in a speech will say that “language is used which turns disagreement into dehumanisation” and society must remain “resolute in resisting words and acts of violence”.

He will deliver his address at the World Holocaust Forum being staged at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem, where guests are expected to include US Vice President Mike Pence, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The prince has been invited to the major event by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and he will meet the statesman as he begins his two-day visit to the Holy Land.

Charles will say in his speech: “The lessons of the Holocaust are searingly relevant to this day. Seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, hatred and intolerance still lurk in the human heart, still tell new lies, adopt new disguises, and still seek new victims.

“All too often, language is used which turns disagreement into dehumanisation. Words are used as badges of shame to mark others as enemies, to brand those who are different as somehow deviant.

“All too often, virtue seems to be sought through verbal violence. All too often, real violence ensues, and acts of unspeakable cruelty are still perpetrated around the world against people for reasons of their religion, their race or their beliefs.

“Knowing, as we do, the darkness to which such behaviour leads, we must be vigilant in discerning these ever-changing threats; we must be fearless in confronting falsehoods and resolute in resisting words and acts of violence. And we must never rest in seeking to create mutual understanding and respect.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has invited Charles to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the prince will tour Bethlehem and sit down for talks with Mr Abbas.

Scott Furssedonn-Wood, Charles’s deputy private secretary, said of the World Holocaust Forum: “The prince is honoured to be among the small number of international leaders who have been invited to address the event and have the opportunity on behalf of the United Kingdom to honour the memory of all those who were lost in the Holocaust.”

Charles’s visit has added significance as the Queen has never made an official visit to Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories during her 67-year reign.

The ministerial jet Voyager is believed to be undergoing scheduled maintenance and the prince has travelled to the Middle East by chartered plane.

Mr Furssedonn-Wood said: “We always look at a range of options, we take a number of factors into account when we decide how to travel, we weigh up things like cost of course with environmental impact as you’d expect, but also efficiency of time, size of delegation and crucially safety and security.”

He highlighted a number of recent trips, including Charles’s official visits to Japan and India, when he flew on commercial airlines, but for this tour, he said, scheduled flights could not satisfy all of their considerations.

During his first day in the Holy Land, the prince will also meet Holocaust survivors and be joined by the UK’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis.

While in the Middle East, Charles is also likely to pay his respects at the resting place of his grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, in Jerusalem’s Church of St Mary Magdalene.

She was honoured by the Jewish people for hiding and saving the lives of Jews in Nazi-occupied Athens during the Second World War.

The Duke of Cambridge with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in 2018
The Duke of Cambridge with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in 2018

The prince’s visit – his first official tour of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories – follows a similar visit made by his son, the Duke of Cambridge, who visited Israel and the Palestinian areas in 2018.

Charles has made previous trips to Israel, travelling to Jerusalem to attend the funerals of President Shimon Peres in 2016 and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.