Gun salute at the airport, "God Save the King" at the Brandenburg Gate: The British King Charles III. and his wife Camilla begin their three-day state visit to Germany this afternoon.
It is the new king's first trip abroad, also intended as a new beginning three years after Brexit. For some citizens in Berlin, Brandenburg and Hamburg it is the chance to see the royals up close.
This should be possible when greeting state guests with military honors. The ceremonial with honor formation and national anthems is usual, but the place is a premiere: For the first time ever it takes place for a guest of state at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
If you want to experience Charles and Camilla there together with Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender, you have to be there hours in advance. The overall security effort is enormous. Today, 900 police officers and 20 sniffer dogs are said to be on duty in Berlin.
The visit is an important signal
Steinmeier has also planned a reception for the afternoon at Bellevue Palace with experts on the energy transition and sustainability - a topic that has been of particular interest to Charles for decades. In the evening, the Federal President gives a state banquet with around 130 guests, the men in tails, the women in long. According to reports, the king wants to hold part of his after-dinner speech in German.
Germany and Great Britain are close partners, the royals are traditionally popular here and experienced a wave of sympathy after the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September last year. Charles himself knows Germany well. He's been here around 40 times. The fact that he will now be in his new role as king before his coronation on May 6 is still an important signal.
Exactly six years ago, the British government officially announced its exit from the EU on March 29, 2017, and Brexit was completed on January 31, 2020. Now let the "turmoil of separation" behind and look forward together, according to the Office of the Federal President. There is talk of a "new chapter" in the relationship.
Protests: Trip to France postponed
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told Welt: "We share so many values and I am very, very pleased that this will be a very public opportunity for Britain to express, through His Majesty's visit, our real commitment to a long-lasting, meaningful friendship to demonstrate with Germany and the German people."
Charles' first trip abroad was supposed to be to France, but it was postponed because of protests against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reforms. So Berlin is the first stop. Until Friday, Steinmeier and Büdenbender will accompany their guests Charles and Camilla through a packed program that, according to the Office of the Federal President, represents the past, present and future of mutual relationships.
On Thursday, among other things, Charles will give a speech in the Bundestag and make a detour to a German-British battalion and an eco-village in Brandenburg. On Friday, the monarch and his wife will take the ICE to Hamburg with Steinmeier and Büdenbender. There they visit, among other things, the memorial "Children's transport - the last farewell" and the ruins of the Church of St. Nikolai, which was destroyed in World War II.