Prince lifts the lid on museum's revamp

By Jessica Elgot, December 16, 2010
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Prince Charles has a whiff of the chicken soup in the Camden museum’s recreation of the Jewish immigrant home

Prince Charles has a whiff of the chicken soup in the Camden museum’s recreation of the Jewish immigrant home

Prince Charles paid tribute to the "enormous contribution" of British Jewry at the "royal opening" of the Jewish Museum in Camden on Tuesday.

The prince – a patron of the museum since 2008 – was impressed by its £10 million refurbishment, which was completed in March.

Unveiling a plaque, he said: "Having come here three years ago with my wife, it's been a great joy to return to see what you've managed to do. It is a wonderful way of discovering just what an enormous contribution the Jewish community has made to this country and the fact that the contribution is still made in such a remarkable, effective and constructive way is something that deserves enormous celebration as well as immense gratitude."

There was heightened security at the venue following the attack on the royal car last week by student protesters. On arrival, he was greeted by Year 6 pupils from the local Richard Cobden School singing Hebrew songs. The prince congratulated the 30 children on having learnt the words to Shalom Chaverim.

He toured the museum with director Rickie Burman, who introduced him to staff and guest speakers. Artefacts he viewed included the medieval mikveh. Author Simon Sebag Montefiore pointed out a petition from his great-great uncle Moses Montefiore and explained the story of his legacy.

Historian Simon Schama showed the prince the "Jew Bill" of 1753 which allowed foreign-born Jews to be naturalised as British subjects. It provoked a huge public outcry and was repealed the following year. Naturalisation was eventually permitted in 1835.

He also spent time at the Holocaust exhibition, telling the story of survivor Leon Greenman, who died in 2008 - and who the prince had met in 2006.

Introduced to survivors Vera Schaufeld and Mala Tribich, he talked to them about their stories. "He was really interested in what we had to say and kept asking questions," Ms Tribich said. "He told me I must write my story down for posterity."

At a reception, Prince Charles greeted prominent supporters of the museum including Dame Gail Ronson and the BBC's Alan Yentob.

    Last updated: 2:29pm, December 17 2010