The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall shared a poignant moment after following in the footsteps of Jesus and visiting the site in the Middle East where it is said he was baptised.
Charles and Camilla stood in silent contemplation by waters from the River Jordan – famously used to baptise royal babies – before dipping their fingers in a small pool.
Earlier, the prince paid tribute to the enduring ties between the UK and Jordan, saying the “relationship has mattered even more and matters a great deal within the UK”.
The future King and his wife began their tour of the country by visiting its ruling monarch King Abdullah II and his wife Queen Rania, and praised Jordan’s efforts in welcoming millions of refugees from the region over the decades.
When Abdullah highlighted the recent Cop26 UN climate change conference in Glasgow the prince attended, Charles reiterated calls for action from world leaders.
At the Unesco world heritage site on the border with Israel, Charles and Camilla carefully walked down a flight of stone steps to a pool of water where John the Baptist baptised Jesus.
Located on the east bank of the Jordan River, it attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims a year and is a place of reverence for Christians.
Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, the King’s senior adviser for religious and cultural affairs – who has taken a great interest in the project, stood watching as did Rustom Mkhjian, director general of the baptism site.
Mr Mkhjian said later about Charles: “My last words to him were ‘Your Royal Highness, welcome to the lowest site discovered on earth that is closest to heaven’.
“I was so excited to be able to show him the importance of the site but also explain that we have preserved it the way Jesus and John did.
“One of the last visitors to be allowed down to the baptism site was his Holiness Pope Francis. It is a great honour.
“The significance to them touching is that they are actually touching a water table described by pilgrims in the 6th century, worn down by hundreds of thousands of feet over the centuries.”
The couple also visited the nearby site of Elijah’s Hill, where John the Baptist lived for about 20 years in a cave, and where Jesus is believed to have visited him.
From the ruins the couple could see Jericho and Jerusalem stretching out into the distance.
The prince later took part in an interfaith meeting about religious tolerance and the environment with faith leaders and appealed to them to help in the fight against climate change.
He told then: “You are the people, who are the leaders of your communities, you are the people to remind your flocks of living in harmony with nature. There is hope. There are ways we can change.
“I pray with all my heart that the Churches and Faiths will lead the way with those in private enterprise and the public sectors. Now is the time to translate people’s awareness into real action on the ground.”
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