Berlin, Brandenburg and Hamburg can look forward to royal splendor at the end of March - then King Charles III. and Queen Camilla come to Germany for a state visit. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender will welcome the royal couple to the capital on March 29 as part of their first trip abroad, the Office of the Federal President announced on Friday. The first stop on this trip will be France, where the 74-year-old monarch and his 75-year-old wife are expected in Paris and Bordeaux from March 26th.
"The visit will honor Britain's relationship with France and Germany and highlight our shared history, culture and values," Buckingham Palace said. "I appreciate this state visit all the more because the king decided to come to Germany before his coronation," said Steinmeier in a video message. "This early visit underscores the close and warm friendship between our countries and our citizens."
Welcome at the Brandenburg Gate
So that as many people as possible can see the royal couple, the greeting with military honors will not take place in the park of Bellevue Palace as usual, but at the Brandenburg Gate. According to the Office of the Federal President, there has never been a state guest received at Berlin's landmark. This is also seen as a sign of the special appreciation and close ties between Germany and Great Britain. In the evening, Steinmeier and Büdenbender will give a state banquet for their guests.
Steinmeier emphasized that it was also an important European gesture that King Charles had chosen Germany and France as the first destinations before his coronation. "I would like to say to him, but of course also to all Britons: We in Germany, we in Europe, want close and friendly relations with the United Kingdom even after Brexit."
"We want to look ahead," said the British ambassador in Berlin, Jill Gallard, in a press conference on Friday. "Our countries are facing major challenges that we must tackle together." The visit will focus on central themes such as the war in Ukraine, climate change, sustainability, renewable energies and "joying art and cultural exchange".
Also planned speech in the Bundestag
King Charles III will give a speech in the Bundestag on the second day of the visit (March 30) and will also meet with refugees from Ukraine in Berlin. In Brandenburg, he and the Federal President want to visit soldiers from a German-British military unit that specializes in building bridges.
A visit to the memorial of St. Nikolai Church, which was destroyed by Allied bombers 80 years ago, and a visit to the port are planned for Hamburg. Finally, the royal couple, the Federal President and his wife will take part in a large reception with guests from the Hanseatic city and the local British community.
Charles has been the British monarch since the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on September 8 of last year. His coronation is to take place at the beginning of May, and preparations are in full swing.
Steinmeier had already invited him to Germany in a telephone conversation last September. On the fringes of the funeral ceremonies in London, he repeated this invitation. Both know each other well and appreciate each other very much, as emphasized in Berlin. Steinmeier met Charles six times during his time as Federal President.
King Charles often and gladly in Germany
Ambassador Gallard said the king was very familiar with Germany. He has been here officially or privately 40 times since 1962 and has got to know all corners of the country. He has a "very close personal relationship" with Steinmeier. Elizabeth II also paid many visits to Germany, including five state visits.
Charles last visited Germany with his wife in autumn 2020. At that time, in the midst of the corona pandemic, he gave a moving speech at the central commemoration of the day of national mourning in the Bundestag, in which he evoked the deep partnership between Great Britain and Germany. "Together we are an indispensable force for good in the world," said the then Prince Charles - a sentence that today's King Charles could repeat verbatim in the Bundestag in view of the Ukraine war.