At 11:00 a.m. on Friday, January 24, 2020, His Royal Highness Prince Charles the Prince of Wales visited the Basilica of the Nativity, accompanied by a delegation including His Excellency Mr. Philip Hall, the British Consul General of Her Royal Highness Elizabeth, Queen of England and the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem Souheil Dawani.
Upon His arrival at the courtyard of the Basilica, His Royal Highness the Prince was welcomed by the representatives of the Hegoumens of Bethlehem, Archimandrite Polykarpos, on behalf of the Orthodox and was led to the Gate of the Basilica. There the Prince was welcomed by the Hegoumens of Bethlehem; the Orthodox Patriarchal Representative Archbishop Theophylaktos of Jordan, the Franciscan and the Armenian Hegoumens, who led the Prince inside the Basilica.
In the middle of the Basilica the first to greet the Prince was Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, followed by the Custos of the Holy Land Reverend Francesco Patton and the representative of the Armenian Patriarch, Archbishop Sevan.
From there, Patriarch Theophilos led the Prince at the Catholicon, before the Ikonostasion, and standing by the Main Gate, extended to him a symbolic gift being the star of the Nativity made of pearls and addressed His Royal Highness.
From this point and through St. Nikolaos’ chapel, the Patriarch of Jerusalem guided the Prince to St. George’s chapel, which is adjacent to the Basilica on the southeast side. There the Patriarchal Representative of Bethlehem, Archbishop Theophylaktos of Jordan read the Gospel narrative of the Nativity of Christ in Greek, as per the custom on each Christmas Eve according to the Gregorian calendar by the Anglican Church, the Prince read the narrative of the Beatitudes according to chapter 5 of St. Mathew’s Gospel, and each of the Heads of the Christian Churches, without litourgical vestments, read a prayer according to the printed schedule.
Once this ceremony was finished, led by Patriarch Theophilos, the Prince went down St. George’s chapel through the stairs of the Altar to St. Nikolaos’ chapel. From there the Prince went down into the Cave and therein, by the star and the manger, He was addressed by the Custos of the Holy Land the Reverend Father Francesco Patton.
Thereafter, the Prince went up through the north gate of the Cave to the chapel which is used by the Armenians, and was received by the Armenian His Eminence Sevan. From this chapel, the Prince marched through the courtyard of St. Catherine of the Franciscans, where a group photograph of the visit was taken.
Finally, His Royal Highness offered a reception hosted by the British Consul General to Jerusalem His Excellency Mr. Hall, at the Casa Nova the adjacent Guest House of the Fransciscans.
Source: Patriarchate of Jerusalem