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

·4-min read

The King has pledged to "strengthen the connections" between the UK and Germany at a state banquet in Berlin.

The state dinner took place at Schloss Bellevue, the official residence of the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is hosting the event.

In the first state banquet speech of his reign, Charles paid tribute to the "enduring value" of the two countries' relationship and stressed he was "utterly convinced" the bond between them "will grow ever stronger".

His Majesty addressed guests in both English and German praising the two countries' shared values of "promoting global health, net zero and protecting our shared democratic values".

He paid tribute to Germany's "extraordinary generosity" in hosting over a million Ukrainian refugees.

The King even got a laugh at the white-tie event when he referenced a British comedy sketch called "Dinner For One" which is hugely popular in Germany.

In it an elderly aristocrat dines alone while her waiter gets progressively more drunk as he consumes alcohol poured for her non-existent guests.

It has become a tradition to watch the 18 minute sketch on New Year's Eve in Germany.

President Steinmeier in his speech noted that Britain began the process of leaving the EU on 29 March 2017.

"For me personally, this was a sad day," he said. "Today, exactly six years later, we open a new chapter."

Mr Steinmeier paid tribute to Charles' mother Elizabeth, stressing how much she had done to foster German-British ties.

"Your family stands for continuity, for stability, particularly in times of change," he said, noting that Charles, too, had visited Germany more than 40 times as a prince.

Former chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also attended the event, taking place in the Tiergarten district of the German capital.

The Queen Consort was wearing a tiara and bracelet that belonged to her mother-in-law Queen Elizabeth for the event.

It was rumoured that some of the King's German cousins were invited to the event, including Prince Donatus of Hesse, who dined with the late Queen when she visited Frankfurt during a 2015 state visit with the Duke of Edinburgh.

Others tipped to attend included Prince Baden Bernhard, who attended Prince Philip's funeral in 2021, and his father Prince Ludwig of Baden.

Earlier President Steinmeier praised the King's green "convictions" and thanked him for choosing to visit Germany for his first state visit as monarch.

In a speech he said: "I am grateful that King Charles III began to champion healthy nutrition, sustainability and climate action very early on. We are all benefiting today from Your Majesty's convictions."

He added: "This visit, Your Majesty's very first trip abroad as the new King, is a tremendous personal gesture - and for that I would like to express my heartfelt thanks.

"I am looking forward to the coming days and to the many opportunities we will have to exchange views."

The couple began their trip by arriving at Berlin's Brandenburg Airport at about 1pm UK time, and visited the Brandenburg Gate, the first time the landmark has been used to welcome any visiting head of state.

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

During the visit, the King will head to the Presidential Palace, where he will learn what Germany is doing to highlight causes such as sustainability, hear about the support Germany are providing to Ukraine, and address the German parliament, speaking in both English and German.

The royal couple were due to travel to Germany from France for a state visit but French President Emmanuel Macron asked for the trip to be postponed following a night of violent protests after his pension reforms.

Fly-past of fighter jets as King and Queen Consort say trip is 'great joy'

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.

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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.

They will leave Berlin and travel to Hamburg on Friday.