King Charles vows to ‘strengthen’ British-German ties


King Charles III

King Charles III praised the relationship between Germany and Britain in a state banquet speech in Berlin on Wednesday night, after being feted with military honours.

The honours took place at the Brandenburg Gate on his first foreign trip as a monarch.

“The relationship between Germany and the United Kingdom matters greatly to me and I am more convinced than ever of its enduring value to us all,” Charles said.

He added that his decision to visit Germany so soon after becoming king underscored the significance.

“I can only assure you, that throughout the time that is granted to me as king, I will do all I can to strengthen the connections between us,” Charles said.

German President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who hosted the white-tie dinner at his official residence, Bellevue Palace, also emphasised the strength of Anglo-German relations in his after-dinner speech.

Charles said he and his wife Camilla were “deeply touched” by the warm welcome in Germany.

He also thanked Germans for the profoundly touching messages of support and affection following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, last September.

The king expressed his appreciation for Germany for taking in more than a million refugees from Ukraine which “so powerfully demonstrates the generosity of spirit of the German people.”

He is due to visit an arrival centre for Ukrainian refugees at Berlin’s former Tegel airport on Thursday.

Charles, who visited Germany about 40 times before becoming king, gave his dinner speech in a mix of German and English.

Steinmeier gifted Charles a photograph of his first visit to Germany in 1962.

The black-and-white snapshot is blown up in large format at the age of 13 arriving with his father, Prince Philip, at Frankfurt Airport.

There were 130 or so guests present at the formal dinner, which featured a menu of carp and watercress.

This is followed by a broth of beef, pasture-raised chicken and tree mushrooms, and finally prunes, East Frisian black tea and shortcrust cookies.

Among those attending were former chancellor Angela Merkel, past German presidents Horst Köhler and Joachim Gauck, and celebrities such as star architect David Chipperfield and the frontman of German punk band Die Tote Hosen.

Merkel was seen sitting next to the king during the dinner.

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Charles and Queen Consort Camilla arrived to a 21-gun salute at Berlin’s airport on Wednesday afternoon for their three-day state visit to Germany.

The king was then taken to the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Berlin.

He was the first state guest to ever be greeted with military honours at the Berlin landmark that has become a symbol of Germany and Europe’s Cold War division and reunification.

A military band played “God Save The King” as Charles and Camilla looked on under a cold grey sky.

The king then inspected the troops before the couple headed to the edge of the square to meet several hundred excited onlookers who had turned out.

Steinmeier later noted that the king’s visit to Berlin comes exactly six years after then-British prime minister Theresa May submitted Britain’s request to leave the European Union in 2017.

“Today, six years to the day after Britain began the process of leaving the European Union, we are opening a new chapter in our relationship.

“Together, as friends and partners, we are now looking forward,” Steinmeier said.

The German president also praised Charles’ long interest in environmental causes, including climate protection and organic farming.

Charles is due on Thursday to address lawmakers in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, and meet Ukrainian refugees who fled the Russian invasion and are now staying in Berlin.

On Friday, Charles is scheduled to travel to Hamburg on a Deutsche Bahn high-speed train.

His first stop upon arrival is a monument commemorating the Kindertransport the effort to get Jewish children out of Nazi Germany and bring them to Britain during the Holocaust.

Charles then plans to lay a wreath at the ruins of St Nikolai.

The church, largely destroyed in the Allied bombing raids during World War II, is now Hamburg’s central memorial to the victims of the Nazi regime.

Charles had planned to visit France before coming to Germany.

But that leg of his journey was postponed due to the widespread social unrest triggered by President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform.


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