Prince Charles and Camilla greeted by Jordan's King Abdullah and Queen Rania in Amman

Bedouin guards greet them upon their arrival at Amman's Queen Alia International Airport

Day 2: Read the latest from Prince Charles and Camilla's visit to Jordan here

Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, met Jordan's king and queen on Tuesday at the Jordanian Royal Family's Al Husseiniya Palace, the first overseas tour by a British royal since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Jordan is a former British protectorate with close ties to the United States and the West. The country is struggling to cope with the effects of environmental degradation, an issue of concern to Prince Charles, who sponsors at least one charity in the kingdom.

Photos released by the Royal Court in Amman showed the couple in front of a row of Jordanian and British flags at the Al Husseiniya Palace, where King Abdullah conducts most of his official business, on the outskirts of the Jordanian capital.

"How hugely we all admire Jordan and your Majesty’s efforts on looking after so many refugees coming from all around the area," the Prince of Wales said.

"Jordan is so unbelievably hospitable."

Jordan has 650,000 registered Syrian refugees and more than two million Palestinians. Most of the Palestinian refugees have Jordanian citizenship.

The two men were in suits while Queen Rania wore a solid cream dress and Camilla was in dressed in mosaic blue.

“It is always very special indeed to come back to Jordan – I’m sorry this time it is 19 months late,” the prince said, referring to the coronavirus.

“The fact that we can come back is hugely encouraging."

Speaking about Jordan’s water shortage, the king said there had only been “a little bit of rain” in the country.

He said the situation could be worse next year “unless things change”.

“We are tremendously delighted to welcome you back,” King Abdullah said, pointing out his own father’s good relationship with Prince Charles.

Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, King Abdullah's cousin and adviser, received the couple at Queen Alia International Airport.

Prince Charles and Camilla descended from the plane and walked past a guard of honour by Jordanian soldiers carrying rifle bayonets and wearing olive Bedouin military uniform.

They will have dinner with the king and queen on Tuesday. Prince Charles will give a speech on Wednesday at the Jordan Museum in Amman on the occasion of the country's centenary.

Jordan was established as the British Protectorate of Transjordan 100 years ago, with Emir Abdullah, the king's great grandfather, as its first Hashemite monarch.

They will visit the purported site of Jesus's baptism on the Jordan River. Jordanian authorities hope to turn the site into a major tourist attraction by building hotels in the area.

The couple will also visit the Roman city of Ghadara in northern Jordan and meet officials from charities linked to Prince Charles.

The royal couple will spend two days in Jordan before travelling to Egypt on Thursday morning.

The tour went ahead even as the royal family deals with Queen Elizabeth II's health concerns.

Last week, Prince Charles took part in the UN's climate change conference, Cop26. Climate change is expected to be one of the main themes of the current visit.

Illegal digging of ground wells is depleting aquifers in Jordan, which is among the driest countries in the world. The country's main Azraq oasis west of Amman dried up decades ago because its water was diverted, mainly for agriculture.

Other issues expected to be discussed include interfaith dialogue, female empowerment and efforts to preserve cultural heritage.

The prince oversees Turquoise Mountain, a charity active in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Myanmar. It is helping to preserve carpentry and other crafts in the region, such as fine stonework, relying significantly on refugees from Syria to pass on their knowledge.

Prince Charles's connections helped secure a spacious white stone villa in Amman as the organisation's headquarters in Jordan. It belonged to Sheikh Nasser Al Sabah, a late senior member of the Kuwaiti royal family, who was a patron of the arts and a friend of Prince Charles.

Before he died last year, Sheikh Al Sabah lent the villa to Turquoise Mountain to use as a training centre.

Chris Fitzgerald, deputy private secretary of the Prince of Wales, said before the visit that the tour comes "at a significant moment in the UK's relationship" with Jordan and Egypt.

Royal visits to the Middle East - in pictures

Updated: November 17th 2021, 11:05 AM
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