Royals: Charles and Camilla eagerly awaited in Germany
Charles and Camilla eagerly awaited in Germany
King Charles III and Queen Camilla are expected to pay a state visit to Germany. It is the new British king’s first trip abroad. The anticipation is great at Bellevue Palace.
State visits are nothing unusual in Berlin – but this one will be special. This is already apparent before König Charles III. and Queen Camilla are coming to Germany this Wednesday. Your hosts, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender, attach great importance to the visit. From Steinmeier’s point of view, it is about nothing less than “opening a new chapter in Anglo-German relations,” as the Federal President’s Office puts it.
Charles is considered a very good connoisseur of Germany, where he has been around 40 times. For the first time, however, he comes in his new role as king – and that before his coronation on May 6th. “This early visit underscores the close and warm friendship between our countries and our citizens,” said Steinmeier in a video message when the trip was announced at the beginning of March. It will also be Charles’ first trip abroad since becoming king in September. The fact that France, which was originally planned as the first stop, was canceled at short notice due to the wave of protests there, makes the visit in Germany even more important from the perspective of the hosts.
Only very few get 21 shot salute
Even the reception at the airport will be unusual: a guest rarely gets a 21-shot salute. A premiere will be the greeting with military honors immediately after the trip to the capital. Not in front of the castle as usual Bellevue or behind it in the park, but at Berlin’s landmark, the Brandenburg Gate. No guest of state has ever been welcomed there.
But the ceremonial will be as usual: the staff band of the armed forces will play both national anthems, guest and host will pace the lined-up guard battalion of honor. Citizens and visitors to the city will have a good opportunity to catch a glimpse of the royal guests.
The program of state visit will reflect the past, present and future of the mutual relationship, it says in Bellevue Palace. The first program item is aimed at the future: Charles will take part in a reception at Bellevue Palace on the topic of energy transition and sustainability, to which stakeholders from politics, research, business and civil society are invited.
Things get festive later in the evening when Steinmeier and Büdenbender receive around 130 guests at the state banquet in Bellevue Palace. You will be served a four course meal which is kept secret in advance. There was so much to learn: chef Jan-Göran Barth shared the love for regional and seasonal cuisine with the king. And on the plates there will definitely be one or two products from the Brandenburg ecological village of Brodowin, which Charles wants to visit on Thursday afternoon. According to reports, the king wants to hold part of his after-dinner speech in German.
Speech in the Bundestag on Thursday
This also applies to the speech in the German Bundestag on Thursday. Around noon, between debates about housing refugees and about the German army’s deployment in South Sudan, Charles III. speak to MPs. The plenary hall in the Reichstag is well known to him. In November 2020, he gave a moving speech here at the central commemoration of the Day of Mourning, in which he evoked the deep partnership between Great Britain and Germany. “We will always be friends, partners and allies,” he said at the time.
This thought is also reflected in the whole visit now. The mood between Great Britain and the European Union – and thus also with Germany – was at times considerably clouded over by Brexit. But with this visit, the “tangles of separation” fade into the background and we look forward together again, according to Bellevue Palace.
Joint aid to Ukraine is cited as proof of this. Steinmeier repeatedly points out that Germany and Great Britain are the biggest military supporters of the country attacked by Russia in Europe. They also work closely together to protect their neighbors. Steinmeier in Estonia has just looked at the joint surveillance of the airspace over the Baltic States by German and British Eurofighters.
On Thursday, together with King Charles, he will visit soldiers of the German-British Engineer Bridge Battalion 130 in Finowfurt north of Berlin. In terms of security policy in particular, they are closer together than ever since Brexit, according to the Office of the Federal President.
If this program point stands for the present of relationships, then on the third day a look into the – dark – past follows. On Friday, guests and hosts will initially travel to Hamburg with a regular ICE train operated by Deutsche Bahn. First point of visit there: the memorial “Children’s transport – the last farewell”. The bronze sculpture at Hamburg Dammtor station commemorates the transport of German children classified as Jewish to Great Britain during the Nazi era.
Then Charles wants to lay a wreath at the ruins of St. Nikolai. The church, which was largely destroyed in the Allied bombing raids during World War II, is today Hamburg’s central memorial for the victims of the Nazi regime.
Up close and personal in Hamburg
The people of Hamburg will also have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the British royal couple. Charles and Camilla want to sign the Hanseatic city’s golden book in the town hall. There should be an opportunity to meet them at the Rathausmarkt. The subsequent harbor tour will also deal with the topic of sustainable business. A reception hosted by the British Embassy completes the program.
Host Steinmeier will accompany Charles every three days – anything but usual for state visits. And a sign of the “sympathy and personal affection” between the two heads of state, which was previously discussed at Bellevue Palace.