Charles, 71, spoke at Buckingham Palace late Thursday of his pride in the Duke of Edinburgh, 98, who had been sent to a school in Germany for a short time when the Nazis were on the rise.
The royal spoke at the reception for members of the Jewish community in the U.K. about how Philip “helped an older schoolboy who had been identified as a Jew and badly mistreated by other boys. His act of compassion is a source of great pride and inspiration to me.”
Philip attended the German boarding school Schule Schloss Salem in 1933 when he was 12 years old. By that time, the Nazis were in control of German society and Philip’s contemporaries have spoken of how Hitler Youth uniforms and military drills were present at the school.
Can’t get enough of PEOPLE‘s Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!
After a semester there, he graduated from the junior school to the main Salem school. “He was, of course, too young to have much opinion about Nazi politics, but he was evidently amused by their ridiculous strutting, and we are told he laughed whenever he saw the Nazi goosestep,” writes Philip Eade in Young Prince Philip.
The headteacher at the Salem school was Kurt Hahn, a German Jewish man who fled to the U.K., just as Philip was heading to Germany. Hahn would go on to set up the boarding school Gordonstoun in Scotland in 1934, which Philip attended soon afterwards. He later sent his son Charles there.
Highlighting the “precious” links between the monarchy and “our Jewish community,” Charles also spoke about the better known stories of Philip’s mother Princess Alice of Greece, whose life is immortalized in the third season of Netflix’s The Crown. Princess Alice was known to have helped a Jewish family flee from Greece.
“I am immensely proud that my dear grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, is buried in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives,” Charles said. “She is counted one of the Righteous among the Nations for her actions in 1943 when, in Nazi-occupied Athens, she saved a Jewish family by taking them into her home and hiding them. My grandmother was a formidable lady.”
And he recounted an amusing story of her response when the family wondered how they would come to visit her grave when she had told them how she hoped to be buried in Jerusalem.
Charles added, “We all wondered how on Earth we were going to be able to visit her grave. She answered: ‘That’s perfectly alright, there’s a very good bus service from Athens!’ ”
Charles attended the pre-Chanukah party on Thursday as he celebrated “the contribution of our Jewish community to the health, wealth and happiness of the United Kingdom.” The royal has done much to foster cooperation and understanding between faiths during his public life. He calls Britain a “community of communities” and pointed out to his guests on Thursday that he has recently traveled to the Vatican for the Canonization of St. John Henry Newman to celebrate the contribution Catholics make to the country, while in India recently he visited the Bangla Sahib Gurdwara to celebrate the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
He added, “This time of year, which is so special to Christians and Jews alike, offered an ideal opportunity to arrange this evening’s celebration – because the importance of Unity through Diversity sits at the very heart of our values as a society. It defines what – and who – we are as a country.”