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In 1990, when Princess Margaret was attending a special service at the Maidenhead synagogue, she was astonished to hear a prayer for the good health and wise counsel of the Queen. When told that the prayer was not a one-off but recited every Sabbath in every synagogue in Britain, she remarked: "How lovely, they don't do that for us in church; I'll tell my sister."
The sentiments of the Jewish prayer for the Monarch and the Royal Family, can be traced as far back as the prophet Jeremiah’s advice to the exiled Jews in Babylonia over 2,500 years ago: "Seek the peace of the city in which you live … for in its peace is your peace" (Jeremiah 29:7). A formalised prayer dates back to at least the 14th century and its recitation gradually became a custom among communities across the diaspora. The prayer is an opportunity to proclaim loyalty to adopted homes, as well as a plea for rulers to treat Jewish communities kindly. Recited in Hebrew, the name of the ruler is always read in the local language, as is evident from the prayer on display.
Prayer for King George IV and the Royal Family, Cheltenham, 1826
Bearing a British Royal coat of arms, the prayer was
produced for the small congregation of Cheltenham
only three years after its formation in 1823.