The Duchess of Cornwall has emotionally shared childhood memories of reading Anne Frank “when I was the same age as her”, on the 75th anniversary of the publication of the teenager’s iconic diary.
Addressing an Anne Frank Trust UK lunch ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, the Duchess said the diarist’s “life and her death continue inspire worldwide movement of anti prejudice education”.
Recalling her “exceptional gift for words”, she recognised her ability to offer “comfort, meaning and hope”, while detailing her life hiding from Nazi persecution in occupied Amsterdam.
“Like many others, I first read this diary when I was the same age as her”, she said, before recalling the “solemn privilege” of visiting Auschwitz for the 75th anniversary of its liberation in January 2020. Anne perished at Bergen-Belsen after her family was betrayed and they were captured in 1944.
The Duchess reflected on having the “pleasure” to have met some of the “thousands of pupils the Trust reaches every year, in schools across the country.
“Their understanding of the past and their dedication to a better future are a testament of all of you”, she said, which works “to speak out against prejudice of any kind.
“But Anne’s story is, of course, one in six million; six million stories that need to be told, heard and remembered to honour those lives that were lost and to force us to understand the consequences extreme hatred.
Sharing the message of survivor Marian Turski to “never be bystanders” against prejudice, the Duchess recalled her visit to Auschwitz in January 2020, to mark the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation.
“Ladies and gentlemen, let us not be bystanders to injustice or prejudice. After all, surely our personal values are measured by the things we are prepared to ignore.”
— Anne Frank Trust (@AnneFrankTrust) January 20, 2022
Before addressing the central London event, which was presented by BBC broadcaster Jo Coburn, she was presented with an inscribed copy of Anne Frank’s Diary, and watched a presentation by 15 young people from three schools across the country, sharing Anne Frank’s message against discrimination.
She took part in a candle-lighting ceremony alongside Eva Schloss, step-sister of Anne Frank and Honorary President of the Anne Frank Trust UK and Annabel Schild, daughter of Kindertransportee Rolf Schild. Also participating was former cricketer-turned racism whistle blower Azeem Rafiq, who met Jewish community leaders last year after apologising for antisemitism messages, Katie Amess, daughter of the murdered MP Sir David Amess and Michelle Parker, survivor of a mass shooting in Plymouth.
Speaking after the Duchess was Dame Joanna Lumley, actress, activist and campaigner. In a speech tinged with both comedy and a serious message against discrimination, she said she’d always be remembered as Absolutely Fabulous character, “the repellent, Patsy Stone.”
“It is by connecting across differences that we thwart those who try to use those differences to divide us… this is the age of young people we need in order to build a world free from hatred.
A truly wonderful speech from Dame Joanna Lumley pic.twitter.com/sCgMtUbvcB
— Anne Frank Trust (@AnneFrankTrust) January 20, 2022
The Anne Frank Trust, she jokingly said “did wonder if they could invite me to come here and address you all as Patsy”. It was “not appropriate in this context, but actually not so alien either. Like most of you here, and like her royal highness, I read Anne Frank’s diary when I was about the same age as Anne, about 14 and I loved it.
“And a big part of what I loved about it was and completely brilliant sense of humour.
“It’s not at all, a heavy, serious tone, written by a saintly angel. Anne is frequently naughty. She regularly gets into arguments and causes trouble with her family and with the others in hiding with her. And she’s marvellously candid about her own failings.
“She’s a terrific comic writer. She’s very witty in her characterisation of herself and others. And she uses lots of her diary to record the fun they had in the secret annex.
“Perhaps Anne’s greatest writer talent is her gift for intimacy, the way she puts us right into her feelings.
“Ultimately, what the humour in the book does is make us care passionately about these likeable, decent people hiding in an attic in Amsterdam. And this is how it brings home to a so powerfully, yjust how much the Nazis destroyed.
“Here are all the amusing, silly, touching details that make up ordinary, sociable human life. Here are the opportunities for future happiness.
She also praised the work of the Trust, saying after the hostage-taking in Texas on Saturday “we know that antisemitism continues to be a horribly active force in our world. And we know that the only way to overcome that force is for Jewish and non Jewish people to stand together. It is by connecting across our differences, that we can thought those who try to make our differences to turn our differences into hatred.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.