King’s inaugural state visit boosted by Germany’s warm welcome
Completing a major milestone for the first time can be daunting even for a King but the inaugural state visit of Charles’s reign appears to have been a success.
It did not begin in auspicious circumstances, with the first leg to France postponed after days of protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension age reforms culminated in violent scenes from Paris to Bordeaux.
Charles and the Queen Consort were due to visit the city synonymous with the French wine industry but images of the town hall doors ablaze were symbolic of the anger felt against Mr Macron.
Outwardly the German state visit looked similar to other major tours carried out by Charles – lengthy motorcades, police on every corner, an entourage swelled by local officials, posies and gifts presented.
These previous trips were state visits in all but name, with Charles well versed at representing the Queen, who had not ventured on a long-haul overseas tour for many years.
But the change is subtle – no longer the Prince of Wales but now the head of state, with every step and handshake, he represents the nation.
The warmth of the welcome from Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier must have been appreciated, from an escort of fighter jets for Charles’s ministerial plane to staging the official greeting in the shadow of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate – a first for any visiting head of state.
The change in Charles’s position likely provided Germany the opportunity to welcome an old friend with greater appreciation.
The German public held his mother the late Queen in great affection but Charles and the Queen Consort were left amazed by the large crowds who turned out to see them emerge on to the balcony of Hamburg City Hall.
The feeling was mutual, with Camilla saying when asked about the trip during a visit to a Hamburg school: “I like Germany, it’s very nice, this is my fourth visit here, I like it very much.”
As the three-day tour drew to a close, the King and his wife were still animated, seemingly buoyed by the response from the public.
And as they headed out of German airspace, keeping them company was a Typhoon jet with a saluting pilot at the controls.