UK

King pledges to ‘strengthen connections’ between UK and Germany in state banquet speech

The King and Queen Consort are in Germany – the first state visit since the start of the new monarch’s reign.

The couple arrived at Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport at about 1pm UK time, and are currently at the Brandenburg Gate, the first time the landmark has been used to welcome any visiting head of state.

Day one of their three-day tour in one of the EU’s leading nations, will also include a state dinner with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The King took time to greet individuals who were waiting at the gate, speaking to a group of young girls who had recently visited London and a schoolchild who he asked: “No school today?”

The King will head to the Presidential Palace, where he will learn what Germany is doing to support Ukraine, and address the German Parliament, speaking in both English and German.

It is rumoured that some of the King’s German cousins have been invited to attend the event. One of these relatives include Prince Donatus of Hesse, who dined with the late Queen when she visited Frankfurt during a 2015 state visit with the Duke of Edinburgh.

The royal couple were due to travel to Germany from France for a state visit until French President Emmanuel Macron asked the government to postpone their trip, following a night of violent protests.

As the ministerial plane Voyager approached the airport, it was escorted by two Typhoon jets, a mark of respect to the King.

They were then greeted by a 21-gun salute and a fly-past of two fighter jets after pausing at the top of the plane’s steps. At the bottom the royals were greeted by a line of dignitaries including the British Ambassador to Germany, Jill Gallard, and the State Secretary Dorte Dinger.

A visit full of firsts for a head of state

Touching down in Berlin there was little doubt this is a significant visit.

A 21-gun salute and flypast greeted the King and Queen Consort as they stepped off the plane.

And then at the Brandenburg Gate a full ceremonial welcome.

No other head of state has been given this honour.

The monument, once a place of German division, is now a symbol of unity.

Which very much represents the diplomatic message underpinning the trip.

This is the King’s 29th official visit to Germany, but the first State Visit of his reign.

The fact a close European neighbour was chosen says a lot.

It is a chance to put aside the turbulent frictions of Brexit, and renew relationships.

An opportunity to focus on common Anglo-German interests, such as the war in Ukraine and the climate crisis, both issues close to the King.

Of course, the State Visit wasn’t supposed to start in Berlin, but political protests in France mean Germany is now playing host.

The country is pulling out the stops during the three day visit. The King and Queen Consort are guests of honour at a white tie State Banquet.

And another first for the King, when he addresses the German Parliament, something no other British monarch has done.

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In a joint statement posted to Twitter, the King and Queen Consort said it was a “great joy” to be able to develop the “longstanding friendship” between the two nations.

“Ahead of our first state visit to Germany, we are very much looking forward to meeting all of those who make this country so special,” the statement read.

The leave will Berlin and travel to Hamburg on Thursday.

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