Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office
For immediate use
6 December 2023
Majesty King Charles III visits The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre UK,
ten years after his first historic visit on 17 December 2013
His Majesty King Charles III attended an Advent Service and Christmas Reception at The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Hertfordshire on 5 December 2023 which was attended by over six hundred guests from the House of Lords and House of Commons, the Diplomatic Corps, the Foreign Commonwealth Office, humanitarian, and advocacy organisations, as well as ecumenical and interreligious guests, and members of the Coptic Orthodox clergy and community in the United Kingdom.
His Majesty attended a Coptic Orthodox prayer service in the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George, after which he met volunteers from the Church's youth, advocacy and benevolent ministries, who presented the various services offered by the church that align with His Majesty’s Coronation pledge ‘to serve’. The King was then greeted by members of the Coptic Orthodox Church community, and signed a visitors book before unveiling a plaque to mark the occasion of his visit.
His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos presented to His Majesty a fragment of stone from the Coptic Orthodox Altar within the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, speaking of its unparalleled significance in Christian history and the enduring legacy of the Christian Faith and the universal message of hope and resurrection that it offers, from the place of the Resurrection.
His Majesty then addressed the congregation and spoke of his joy at returning to the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral after ten years and meeting people who had been there at the previous visit in 2013. He concluded by wishing everyone a blessed Christmas.
Commenting on the visit, Archbishop Angaelos said:
“It was a true joy to welcome His Majesty back to our Centre and Cathedral during his Coronation Year. The response which we received from our community to attend a midweek morning service was overwhelming, and the genuine love and enthusiasm expressed was heartening. Seeing His Majesty move among the people and engage with them with such warmth and sincerity speaks to his commitment to being the servant King. He touched and left a lasting impression on the hearts of so many individuals and families within our community.
As part of the visit, we were conscious to present some of the major ministries of the Church related to youth, homelessness, social welfare and advocacy in order to demonstrate the breadth of engagement that we have, and this was further represented in the number of our ecumenical, interreligious and official guests who joined us on the day. We were also delighted that His Majesty planted a tree with us, something that speaks to the importance of environmental stewardship as faith communities.
We are very thankful to His Majesty for his visit, his time and genuine sincerity and warmth, and we pray a blessing upon him, the Nation and the Commonwealth and the world during this Advent period, which is a period of hope amidst many global challenges that are affecting so many at this time.”
The King was invited to plant a plum tree on the grounds of The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre, before farewelling guests.
His Majesty King Charles III (formerly The Prince of Wales) first visited The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre a decade ago, to attend a Christmas service and to witness the increasing engagement of the Coptic Orthodox community, an indigenous Egyptian Christian community, now very much at home in the United Kingdom. The King’s visit in 2013, was the first of a series of annual Advent visits to diverse Christian communities carried out by His Majesty.
All photographs are credited to The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre UK
Royal Visit to The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in 2013, see here
On 5th December 2018 His Majesty spoke at a historic service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the contribution of Christians in the Middle East. Archbishop Angaelos and the Coptic Orthodox Choir in the United Kingdom took part in this historic service. Read more here.
His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, the 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, met The King at Clarence House on 17 May 2017 during his first pastoral visit to the United Kingdom. Read more here.
In November 2021, The King also met His Holiness Pope Tawadros II in Egypt.
In March 1995 His Majesty met with His Holiness the late Pope Shenouda III, the 117th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, in Egypt.
More on The Coptic Orthodox Church
Coptic Orthodox Christians make up approximately 15% of the population of Egypt, numbering around 15 million. An indigenous community, they are now the largest presence of Christians in the entire Middle East due to widespread immigration and displacement.
There are approximately 40,000 Coptic Orthodox Christians in the UK.