King meets faith leaders at Lambeth Palace Library amid conflict in Middle East

Justin Welby said the visit reflected Charles’s ‘longstanding commitment to supporting all faiths in the UK’.

Sam Hall
Thursday 16 November 2023 17:54 GMT

The King met faith leaders from across the country at Lambeth Palace Library on Thursday afternoon, amid ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis and Aliya Azam from the Al Khoei Foundation were among the attendees at the reception in London to mark Inter Faith Week which was attended by more than 30 faith leaders and community representatives.

Lambeth Palace said it provided an opportunity for faith leaders to talk to the King about what their communities are “experiencing in the light of global conflicts” and how these conflicts “affect community relations in this country”.

Mr Welby said the visit reflected Charles’s “longstanding commitment to supporting all faiths in the UK”.

Mr Welby said: “It was a great honour to welcome King Charles to Lambeth Palace Library today. These are challenging times for faith communities in the UK, particularly with the ongoing war in the Middle East.

“Today’s visit by The King was a wonderful encouragement to remain united in partnership and friendship – as many people of faith are doing across the country.”

The monarch was shown valuable religious artefacts at the library including an English translation of the Koran from 1734 and a nearly 500-year-old Talmud.

As he left, Charles thanked the library’s staff, saying: “Well done for all the marvellous things you do.”

He then joked: “I hope opening the blinds hasn’t caused too much damage – it would be all my fault.”

Charles, dressed in a blue check suit with a pink pocket square, also met researchers from the Church Commissioners’ Project Spire which is investigating links between the Church of England’s endowment fund and transatlantic chattel slavery.

The items the monarch viewed included a Bible from 1808 for the conversion of slaves which excludes 90% of the Old Testament and many references to freedom.

Before departing, Mr Welby showed Charles a Coronation Bible and the King signed the library’s visitors’ book.

The visit was Charles’s first to Lambeth Palace Library since his accession, and the first time the monarch has been to Lambeth Palace since Queen Elizabeth II visited in 2012 to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

Lambeth Palace Library is home to the historic library of the Archbishops of Canterbury and the archives of the Church of England – it was founded in 1610 by Archbishop Richard Bancroft and is one of England’s oldest public libraries.

Inter Faith Week, which begins on Remembrance Sunday, aims to strengthen interfaith relations at all levels and to increase awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK.

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