UK & World News
Prince Charles Visits Syrian Refugee Camp
The Prince of Wales' timing could not have been better, or his message more clear. Jordan is coping - but only just.
The tiny desert kingdom risks being overwhelmed by the strain of handling close to half a million Syrian refugees.
And it is rapidly becoming a covert pipeline for military supplies to Syrian rebels while hosting secret teams of western military advisers training their commanders.
So Jordan is adding to its vulnerability by taking sides against the government of its powerful neighbour.
Prince Charles asked Naim Sabr, a father-of-four from Deraa, why and how he had come to be living as a refugee in this small camp on the edge of the border town of Ramtha.
Mr Sabr began his answer. Then his eyes filled with tears.
He told the prince of how he'd been a poet and had written verses which attacked the regime of Bashar al Assad, and had been detained and tortured.
"I was crying because I felt so hopeless. In Syria children are being killed, we are being tortured and we can do nothing - nothing," he told Sky News after the prince had left.
That the future monarch of the United Kingdom came to a location within range of Syrian artillery to listen to the stories of the refugees, reinforces the already deep personal, political and military ties between Britain and Jordan.
To drive that home Prince Charles issued an appeal for help on behalf of his hosts.
"The great thing to have come out of this is just how unbelievably generous the Jordanian people have been - they have been truly remarkable ? there's something like 430,000 refugees here," he said.
"But they worry terribly that by the end of the year there may be one million - two million or three million people coming in.
"Of course it's putting more and more strain on the water supply, the food, the whole thing, and hospital services because of course the refugees, as you can imagine, need a lot of hospital and medical attention.
"So clearly the Jordanians need more assistance and help from outside to be able to cope with this immense challenge," he added
The Duchess of Cornwall agreed.
"I found it just a humbling experience seeing all those children, some of them without parents, who have lost their parents and who have obviously been adopted by others - I found it quite heart breaking," she said.
So far the £1bn UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) appeal for funding for Syria's refugees has been met. But this does not account for the huge budgetary strains that the Jordanian economy endures coping with the 300,000 refugees that are not housed in camps paid for by foreign donors.
"We are a resource-poor nation. We can't go on like this," said a senior Jordanian government official, as an aside to Sky News.
The contagion of Syria's civil war threatens the stability of Jordan, of Lebanon, and of the tenuous peace that prevails between Israel and her northern neighbours.
David Cameron has been hinting that he may abandon a European Union arms embargo which precludes arming Syria's rebels when the embargo is reviewed in May.
Whitehall sources say that the Prime Minister is not convinced that arming Syrian rebels is probably the best way of ending the prolonged conflict - and of securing influence over non-Islamist groups who are dominated by extremist ideology.
So far muscular support has been largely secret and limited.
If it grows, so Jordan's importance will grow with it - and in a region where alliances between families count above all else, the connection between the Windsors and the Hashemite rulers of Jordan will be critical.