King and Queen receive ceremonial welcome in Berlin for first state visit of new reign
The King and Queen Consort have arrived in Berlin for their first state visit of the new reign after their RAF Voyager was escorted into the country by German Typhoons.
The couple were greeted at Berlin-Brandenburg airport with a 21-gun salute and a flypast.
They then travelled to Berlin's Brandenburg Gate - a national symbol of peace and unity - where they were welcomed by Germany's president Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife, Elke Budenbender.
The King and president inspected a guard of honour, before they all conducted a brief walkabout, meeting wellwishers who had gathered in central Berlin to welcome the couple.
They will later attend a glittering white tie state banquet at which the King is likely to practice his German in a speech.
Guests will dine on pickled carp with Erfurt flower cress, beef broth, free-range chicken with mushrooms, and a spinach tartlet with root vegetables, according to local reports.
It will be followed by a prunes with East Frisian black tea and sand biscuits, accompanied by liqueur wine from the Ahr.
The King's German cousin Prince Philipp zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg is expected to attend, as is his second cousin Bernhard, Margrave of Baden, and his wife Stephanie.
The grand ceremonial welcome marked the beginning of a tour that was thrown into chaos last week when the French leg had to be postponed due to civil unrest over President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms.
The German authorities will deploy up to 1,100 police officers to secure the royal visit, which forms part of the Government’s wider strategy to cement ties with Europe post-Brexit.
Upon arrival in Berlin, Charles and Camilla paused at the top of the steps of the RAF Voyager to receive the 21-gun salute as two military jets carried out the flypast.
A guard of honour lined the red carpet as the couple were introduced to various dignitaries, including Dörte Dinger, the state secretary, Till Knorn, the chief of German protocol at the foreign ministry, and Jill Gallard, British Ambassador to Germany.
Later on Wednesday, the Queen Consort will meet a children’s choir, members of activity groups for the elderly and some individuals who were involved in the couple’s last visit to Berlin in November 2020.
The royals will then visit Schloss Bellevue, the President’s official residence, and attend a meeting with President Steinmeier, who they last saw at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in September.
They will sign the Golden Book, before the King joins a sustainability reception to highlight both countries’ efforts and investment in the transition towards green energy.
The fountain pen the King will use to sign the guest book has been “repeatedly checked” for reliability, following the clear frustration displayed by the monarch over a malfunctioning pen at the Accession Council last September.
“Our pen has never failed,” Kai Baldow, head of protocol in the president’s office, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
President Steinmeier will make a brief public address, before he and Charles mingle with guests including energy ministers, CEOs, experts and academics.
The monarch will also be briefed on a UK-Germany hydrogen partnership, before planting a tree as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, in memory of his late mother.
Germany has a target to be climate neutral by 2045 - brought forward from 2050 in 2021 - and is investing heavily in clean energy.
The final engagement of the day will see Their Majesties attend a white tie state banquet at Schloss Bellevue, where the King will make a toast and deliver a brief speech to 120 guests.
Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, will not be there, a decision said to have been made to keep the peace in his fractious ruling coalition, allowing each of the three parties to take a lead at different royal events.
His predecessor, Angela Merkel, and her husband are due to attend.
Charles is known to speak German without an accent, taking after his father who was fluent in the language and whose sisters married German royalty.
It is thought likely that the King will refer to his German ancestry in his speech, having previously described how he “cherishes” his family’s German ties and its affinity with the European nation’s culture and traditions.
His cousins include Bernhard, the Margrave of Baden, who is the grandson of the late Duke of Edinburgh’s sister Theodora, and Prince Philipp of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, who is the grandson of Philip's elder sister Princess Margarita.
On Thursday, the King will become the first British monarch to address the Bundestag, and will speak in both English and German.
He will also visit a reception centre for Ukrainian war refugees at the former Tegel airport on the outskirts of Berlin, followed by the Komische Oper opera house.
Separately, the King will watch a joint German-British engineer battalion, the first combined military unit between the two countries in more than two centuries, lay a B pontoon bridge over the Oder-Havel canal north of Berlin.
The visit forms part of the Government’s wider strategy to build relations with Europe and has been designed to highlight the UK and Germany’s “shared histories, culture and values”.
It will also demonstrate the many ways the two nations are working together on issues such as climate change, the response to the conflict in Ukraine and trade and investment opportunities.
Buckingham Palace sources said there would also be opportunities to “reflect on the sacrifices and challenges of our shared past, out of which has come an enduring legacy of cooperation and reconciliation”.