When Philip Arthur George, the first child of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, was born, on November 14, 1948, his mother hired Rabbi Jacob Snowman, a well-known London physician and mohel in December 1948 to circumcise her son. Snowman circumcised other members of the British nobility and Royal Family, and the princess was reportedly highly satisfied with the Rabbi’s work. The royal family tradition of hiring Jewish mohels to circumcise their sons goes back to Queen Victoria. However, it was reported that this fine tradition was interrupted in 1982 after the birth of Prince William, because his mother Diana, the Princess of Wales, did not approve.
Rabbi Snowman’s brother, Emanuel Snowman, married into the Wartski family of jewelers and for generations provided the royals with jewelry, including the Welsh gold wedding bands for Charles and the former Camilla Parker-Bowles, and the bands worn by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and the former Kate Middleton.
Prince Charles became King Charles III the moment his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, passed away on Thursday, September 8. There will be a coronation in a few weeks, but its purpose will only be to ratify his rule – he already has the title and Camilla is already Queen Camilla, which the late Queen specified in her Accession Day message of February 5, 2022.
Meanwhile, the uncircumcised Prince William does not automatically become the Prince of Wales, and it will be up to the new king to give him the title.
King Charles III’s grandmother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, who lived in Greece was one of the Righteous Among the Nations. In 1943, the German Army occupied Athens and rounded up the small group of Greek Jews that hadn’t been deported to Auschwitz yet. The princess hid the Jewish widow Rachel Cohen and two of her five children, who were hiding from the Gestapo.
Prince Charles, who visited her tomb in Jerusalem in January 2020, said she was a source of “immense pride” for him and the royal family.
The visit to his grandmother’s tomb was part of Prince Charles’s official visit to Israel, to join many other world leaders at the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Prince Charles’ office issued a statement saying January’s trip “will be the first time that the prince has undertaken a program of engagements in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”
Prince Charles also visited Israel for Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral in 1995, and Shimon Peres’s in 2016.
On December 6, 2019, Prince Charles delivered a speech he titled, The special and precious connection between Jewish community and the Crown, at a reception in Buckingham Palace. He said, among other things: “In every walk of life, in every field of endeavor, our nation could have had no more generous citizens, and no more faithful friends.”
He also said:
“The connection between the Crown and our Jewish Community is something special and precious. I say this from a particular and personal perspective because I have grown up being deeply touched by the fact that British synagogues have, for centuries, remembered my Family in your weekly prayers. And as you remember my Family, so we too remember and celebrate you.”
“Benjamin Disraeli, of course, the great Prime Minister, although baptized as a child, never denied his Jewish heritage, describing himself to my great-great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, as: ‘The blank page between the Old and the New Testaments!’ When taunted by a Member of Parliament, he answered: ‘Yes, I am a Jew, but when the ancestors of The Right Honorable Gentleman were living as savages on an unknown island, mine were priests in the Temple of Solomon!’”
On April 28 this year, Prince Charles visited the headquarters of the World Jewish Relief agency in Golders Green, London, and praised its charity work in Ukraine, saying: “What a difference has been made.” The prince told one refugee from Odessa that was praying for the end of the war, and she described him as “a righteous gentile.”
Good job, Rabbi Snowman!