Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall stroll around ruins in Jordan’s ancient city of Gadara


After a busy first day of their official mini tour of the Middle East – including a lavish dinner at Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman yesterday evening, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived in Umm Qais, the site of the ancient city of Gadara, on Wednesday morning.   

The second day of their visit, delayed by almost two years due to the Covid pandemic, saw the couple make a 75-mile hop north of the Jordanian capital to the town of Umm Qais. 

The Prince and Camilla were accompanied on the early morning walking tour by Jordanian Princess Dana Firas, 51, who is a global advocate for the ancient site’s ongoing preservation – and a significant additional entourage. 

As they wandered the main dusty avenue through the archaeological ruins, Charles and Camilla learned about the site’s rich tapestry of history including Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim influences.

Keeping cool in the desert sun, the Prince of Wales opted for a light, camel-hued suit with a striped tie and pale blue shirt and a comfy-looking pair of beige shoes, while Camilla wore a sage-coloured floral dress – with low-heeled court shoes for the early morning visit.  

Day two! Prince Charles, 73, and Camilla, 74, arrived in Umm Qais, the site of the ancient city of Gadara, this morning for a walking tour around the historic ruins, which lies two hours’ drive north of the Jordanian capital of Amman, where the couple enjoyed an extravagant dinner at Al Husseiniya Palace on Tuesday evening

Charles breaks into a smile as the couple pose for photos on the main avenue of the historic site, which features in the bible

Charles breaks into a smile as the couple pose for photos on the main avenue of the historic site, which features in the bible

As they wandered the main dusty path through the ruins, Charles and Camilla learned about the site's rich tapestry of history including Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim influences.

As they wandered the main dusty path through the ruins, Charles and Camilla learned about the site’s rich tapestry of history including Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine and Early Muslim influences.

Jordanian Princess Dana Firas, 51, who is a global advocate for the ancient site's ongoing preservation, played tour guide to Charles and Camilla at the site which featured as Gadara in the bible, and is now known as Umm Qais

Jordanian Princess Dana Firas, 51, who is a global advocate for the ancient site’s ongoing preservation, played tour guide to Charles and Camilla at the site which featured as Gadara in the bible, and is now known as Umm Qais

Best foot forward! A significant entourage accompanied the couple as they climbed the steps of the historic ampitheatre in the Middle Eastern ancient metropolis, which lies 74 miles north of the Jordanian capital

Best foot forward! A significant entourage accompanied the couple as they climbed the steps of the historic ampitheatre in the Middle Eastern ancient metropolis, which lies 74 miles north of the Jordanian capital

Camilla strides on: The wife of the future king appeared to negotiate the steep stone steps at the site's amphitheatre with ease

Camilla strides on: The wife of the future king appeared to negotiate the steep stone steps at the site’s amphitheatre with ease

During the visit, Charles stopped to plant a tree to symbolise the UK-Jordanian partnership and in celebration of the centenary anniversary for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

During the visit, Charles stopped to plant a tree to symbolise the UK-Jordanian partnership and in celebration of the centenary anniversary for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

The royals were accompanied on the visit by Princess Dana Firas, a global advocate for heritage protection and preservation

The royals were accompanied on the visit by Princess Dana Firas, a global advocate for heritage protection and preservation

Looking dapper! Charles opted for a camel-hued suit while Camilla wore a sage-coloured ditzy floral dress - with both choosing comfortable shoes for the early morning walking tour

Looking dapper! Charles opted for a camel-hued suit while Camilla wore a sage-coloured ditzy floral dress – with both choosing comfortable shoes for the early morning walking tour

The heir to the British throne and the Duchess of Cornwall have received the warmest of welcomes from the Middle Eastern country, long seen as an ally to both the royal family and the Government

The heir to the British throne and the Duchess of Cornwall have received the warmest of welcomes from the Middle Eastern country, long seen as an ally to both the royal family and the Government

During the walkabout, Charles stopped to plant a tree to symbolise the UK-Jordanian partnership and in celebration of the centenary anniversary for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. 

The ancient site, now known as Umm Qais, appears in the bible as Gadara, south-east of the Sea of Galilee and remains one of Jordan’s biggest tourist attractions. 

The couple showed off their fitness too, appearing to negotiate the steep stone steps at the site’s amphitheatre with apparent ease.  

The British royals have received a warm welcome so far in the Middle Eastern country, which is seen as a strong ally for the Government – Camilla and Charles will head to Egypt later in the week.

Yesterday Charles and Camilla enjoyed a packed schedule on their first official day in Jordan including visiting the Al Husseiniya Palace, where they were hosted by King Abdullah II and Queen Rania.

On Tuesday afternoon, they flew by helicopter to one of the most important religious sites in Jordan and were given the great honour of walking down to the riverbed where it is believed Jesus Christ was baptised. 

And last night, Charles and Camilla were back at Al Husseiniya Palace, this time in their finery, to attend a dinner hosted by the king and queen.

Quite a view: The British royals looked to enjoying their second day, stopping to take in the spectacular views across Umm Qais

Quite a view: The British royals looked to enjoying their second day, stopping to take in the spectacular views across Umm Qais

Both Charles and Camilla donned their sunglasses for the visit to the arid site of Umm Qais

It was an early start for the couple after they dined at Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman with their royal hosts on Tuesday evening

It was an early start for the couple after they dined at Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman with their royal hosts on Tuesday evening

Camilla and Queen Rania pictured on Tuesday evening, after a packed day's schedule that saw the British royals spend time with King Abdullah II and the queen at Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman and visit various charity projects and the holy waters of the River Jordan - before returning to the palace for a lavish dinner

Camilla and Queen Rania pictured on Tuesday evening, after a packed day’s schedule that saw the British royals spend time with King Abdullah II and the queen at Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman and visit various charity projects and the holy waters of the River Jordan – before returning to the palace for a lavish dinner

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall today dipped their fingers in water from the holy River Jordan which is used to baptise royal babies

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall today dipped their fingers in water from the holy River Jordan which is used to baptise royal babies

Then they bent down and each dipped their fingers in (pictured) before walking carefully back up the path to sign a visitor's book

 Then they bent down and each dipped their fingers in (pictured) before walking carefully back up the path to sign a visitor’s book

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are welcomed by King Abdullah II, Queen Rania Al-Abdullah and Crown Prince Hussein at the Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan, on the first day of their tour of the Middle East

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are welcomed by King Abdullah II, Queen Rania Al-Abdullah and Crown Prince Hussein at the Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan, on the first day of their tour of the Middle East

It’s thought that the heir-to-the-throne took ‘five or six dozen bottles’ of Holy water taken from the River Jordan back to the UK for royal baptisms – which could include that of Lilibet, the grand-daughter he has never met.

The UNESCO world heritage site, situated in the Jordan Valley, north of the Dead Sea and on the border with Israel, welcomes pilgrims from across the world and has been authenticated by all major Christian Church leaders as one of the three holiest sites of Christianity, along with Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

During their visit, the prince and his wife walked gingerly down some well-worn steps and a steep, pebbly path to the water, where they stood for a few moments in quiet reflection. 

Then they bent down and each dipped their fingers in, Charles first followed by Camilla, before walking carefully back up the path to sign a visitor’s book.

On their arrival earlier, the couple had first stopped at nearby 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.

Elijah’s Hill is believed to be where Elijah ascended to heaven in the 9th century BC, with views of the wilderness stretching out across to the River Jordan.

The Bible states that Elijah would return before the coming of Jesus, so when John the Baptist began baptising people there it caused a huge stir in the surrounding villages.

They were met by HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, the King’s Senior Adviser for Religious and Cultural Affairs, who has taken a great interest in the project, and The Director General of the Baptism Site, Rustom Mkhjian.

Queen Rania looked stylish in a cream kaftan dress bedazzled with gems on the sleeves and the belt

Queen Rania looked stylish in a cream kaftan dress bedazzled with gems on the sleeves and the belt 

The elegant Queen of Jordan, who was sporting a glamourous look, led the Duchess of Conrwall inside the palace

The elegant Queen of Jordan, who was sporting a glamourous look, led the Duchess of Conrwall inside the palace

The Duchess of Cornwall wore a very elegant cream floor-length dress with long sleeves, which she paired with a silver clutch

The Duchess of Cornwall wore a very elegant cream floor-length dress with long sleeves, which she paired with a silver clutch

The Prince of Wales looked sharp in a black suit, crisp white shirt and a pink tie and pocket square, as he was greeted by King Abdullah II ahead of a dinner

The Prince of Wales looked sharp in a black suit, crisp white shirt and a pink tie and pocket square, as he was greeted by King Abdullah II ahead of a dinner

Camilla beamed as she made her way to the glamourous dinner. She held her dress, revealing a pair of golden heels

Camilla beamed as she made her way to the glamourous dinner. She held her dress, revealing a pair of golden heels 

The Jordanian people have taken great pride in the careful excavation of the area, leaving much of the site as it would have been in the time of Christ.

The royal visitors were given a guided tour of the area and were even offered the opportunity to sit in John the Baptist’s cave for a few moments quietly together.

The prince seemed particularly moved to be visiting a site, where so many famed prophets and pilgrims are said to have passed through.

Pre-Covid-19, it welcomed more than 200,000 visitors per year and the expectation is that this number will again be reached over the next one-two years.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were all smiles as they arrived at the Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were all smiles as they arrived at the Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan

Queen Rania and Camilla later visited the Queen Rania Family and Children Centre in Amman

Queen Rania and Camilla later visited the Queen Rania Family and Children Centre in Amman

The prince and his wife walked gingerly down some well-worn steps and a steep, pebbly path to the water, where they stood for a few moments in quiet reflection (pictured)

The prince and his wife walked gingerly down some well-worn steps and a steep, pebbly path to the water, where they stood for a few moments in quiet reflection (pictured)

Charles and Camilla flew by helicopter to one of the most important religious sites in Jordan and were given the great honour of walking down to the riverbed where it is believed Jesus Christ was baptised (pictured)

Charles and Camilla flew by helicopter to one of the most important religious sites in Jordan and were given the great honour of walking down to the riverbed where it is believed Jesus Christ was baptised (pictured)

They were then taken down to the Baptism site by golf buggy, before travelling back up on the same electric vehicles and flying back to the capital Amman for a glamorous royal dinner.

Speaking afterwards Mr Mkhjian said of the visit: ‘It was great. Their Royal Highness were asking so many questions. 

‘We have discovered so much more than when the prince last visited and he was ever so pleased to see how we have preserved this. 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.

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visiting the baptism site of al-Maghtas, where Jesus is believed by Christians to have been baptised by John the Baptist, on the Jordan river

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visiting the baptism site of al-Maghtas, where Jesus is believed by Christians to have been baptised by John the Baptist, on the Jordan river

The royal couple (pictured) held hands as they walked down the steps and towards the riverbed

The royal couple (pictured) held hands as they walked down the steps and towards the riverbed 

Prince Charles, who donned a smart grey suit, bent down and dipped his fingers in the holy river Jordan

Prince Charles, who donned a smart grey suit, bent down and dipped his fingers in the holy river Jordan

Camilla then followed, before the royal couple paused and took a moment to reflect

Camilla then followed, before the royal couple paused and took a moment to reflect

The Duchess of Cornwall was seen bending down and dipping her fingers in water from the holy River Jordan which is used to baptise royal babies

The Duchess of Cornwall was seen bending down and dipping her fingers in water from the holy River Jordan which is used to baptise royal babies

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall leave the site where Christians believe Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist, on the Jordan River

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall leave the site where Christians believe Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist, on the Jordan River

‘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.’

After their moment at the Baptism site, the prince took part in an interfaith meeting about religious tolerance and the environment.

He told them: ‘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 wed 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.’

He told them that the different Faiths needed to do for the environment what they had done for interfaith relations.

In return the religious gathered asked him to convey their prayers to the Queen.

The Prince of Wales signs the guest book as his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, looks on (pictured)

The Prince of Wales signs the guest book as his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, looks on (pictured)

The royal visitors were given a guided tour of the area and were even offered the opportpictured)

The royal visitors were given a guided tour of the area (pictured) and were even offered the opportunity to sit in John the Baptist’s cave for a few moments quietly together

Prince Charles signed the guest book as he and Camilla visited the baptism site of al-Maghtas

Prince Charles signed the guest book as he and Camilla visited the baptism site of al-Maghtas

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