‘Our community could not have a greater friend than King Charles’

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‘Our community could not have a greater friend than King Charles’

Sir Lloyd Dorfman will attend the coronation of a man whose Prince's Trust he helped turn global, writes Ben Kentish.

King Charles III during a visit to the JW3 Jewish community centre in London as the Jewish community prepared to celebrate Chanukah. Picture date: Friday December 16, 2022.
King Charles III during a visit to the JW3 Jewish community centre in London as the Jewish community prepared to celebrate Chanukah. Picture date: Friday December 16, 2022.

On Saturday, Sir Lloyd Dorfman will join more than 2,000 world leaders, royals and other dignitaries at Westminster Abbey to watch a man he has known for over 20 years be crowned King.

The businessman, who founded world-leading currency exchange platform Travelex in 1976, first met our now King in 2002, when he was asked to help fundraise for the Prince’s Trust – the youth charity founded by Charles in 1976 with £7,500 of his Navy severance pay. Sir Lloyd soon joined the board, later becoming chair, and the start of a long association with the future King was born.


The Prince’s Trust is a venture that, Sir Lloyd believes, reveals a lot about Charles’ character. “He’s always been a philanthropic pioneer,” he says. “He was talking about climate change and organic food and a lot of other things that are very much in the forefront of people’s minds today, a long time before they became fashionable. All those years he was Prince of Wales, he wanted to use his position to change lives and to make the world a better place.”

When Charles wanted to make the charity global, it was to Sir Lloyd that he turned. “He said to me, ‘Lloyd, you’re good at building things – could you really concentrate on building me Prince’s Trust international?’” he recalls.

Since then, the two men’s paths have crossed in multiple guises, from the Royal Opera House, where King Charles is the patron and Sir Lloyd chairs the board of trustees, to St Paul’s Cathedral, where Sir Lloyd recently helped plan and construct a memorial to the victims of Covid-19.

This latest endeavour culminated in a memorial concert at the cathedral, at which Sir Lloyd was asked to speak. Struggling to find the right words to comfort the bereaved families in attendance, he alighted on the ones that Jews have long used in such circumstances – he wished them long life. It is not a phrase one imagines has been oft uttered from the pulpit of St Paul’s.

Of all the charitable causes they have worked on together, it is the King’s interfaith work and his relationship with the Jewish community that Sir Lloyd speaks most passionately about.

Last December, just three months after taking the throne, Charles spent a morning visiting both CST and JW3 – visits that Sir Lloyd was instrumental in bringing about.

 “He’d become concerned, back when he was Prince of Wales, with the increase in hate crime,” Sir Lloyd recalls. “He was very intrigued to know more about CST’s work and wanted to come and see the organisation for himself. He’d also become aware of JW3 and the incredible vision and generosity that Vivien Duffield, who he’d known for many years, had put into founding it. The whole thing came together and we had an incredible morning.”

At JW3, the new King was videoed dancing joyfully with a group of Holocaust survivors – a moment Sir Lloyd recalls with fondness.

“It was a very spontaneous thing,” he says. “There was a bit of music, and I suddenly looked round and there he was dancing with them. He was brilliant. He has huge admiration and huge affection for Holocaust survivors. It was heartfelt on his part and a moment of magic for them.”

It was also an example of what Sir Lloyd describes as Charles’ “abundant personal qualities”. He says: “I’ve witnessed countless instances of his kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness. He is gifted at putting people at ease and has an elephantine memory, with an exceptional ability to remember people he has met before. He also has an enormous and infectious sense of humour.”

Sir Lloyd found the King’s visit to CST similarly powerful, after many decades of the community being forced to fight antisemitism virtually alone.

“Bearing in mind the origins of Jewish defence, symbolically the monarch coming to visit the headquarters of Jewish defence was a historic and poignant moment. It’s difficult to overestimate the impact that his visit had on everybody that day. For the individual organisations it was terrific but for the whole community, for him to take that sort of interest, especially now that he is King, was quite special.”

Asked about the long-standing relationship between Charles and the community, Sir Lloyd recalls a reception the then Prince of Wales hosted for the Jewish community days before the 2019 general election. The prospect of Jeremy Corbyn entering Downing Street was at the forefront of many people’s minds.

“It was a time when people were feeling more insecure and unsettled than they had for a long time,” he says. “At very short notice, he organised a reception for about 500 people at Buckingham Palace and made an incredible speech that was very reassuring and heartening to the community. Over many decades he’s been very supportive, very interested. I don’t think the Jewish community could have a greater friend than King Charles.”

Sir Lloyd says his invitation to the coronation is “a huge honour”. But being part of history involves important practical considerations too. “We’ve been told that the toilet facilities aren’t very plentiful,” he says. “So I’m thinking about it like Kol Nidre going into Yom Kippur: not drinking anything at all.”

  • Ben Kentish is a presenter on LBC
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