King Charles wins hearts in Germany with ‘very well-received’ visit
King Charles has left a positive impression among Germans after his three-day visit to the country, his first trip abroad since the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II last September.
Observers in both London and Berlin said the visit sent a strong message to strengthen ties between the two countries following Britain’s exit from the European Union.
German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed Charles and Queen Consort Camilla at the Brandenburg Gate with military honours on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Charles became the first monarch to address the German parliament, the Bundestag, where he stressed the long-standing close ties between both countries.
“This friendship meant so much to my beloved mother, the late Queen, who often spoke about the official 15 visits she often made to Germany,” he said.
The visit comes as the two sides are trying to rebuild relations after Brexit.
According to Jens Zimmermann, a lawmaker from Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats, Charles’ speech in the German parliament, which was delivered partially in German sent a “clear message.”
“The speech in the Bundestag was very well-received,” Mr Zimmermann was quoted as saying to the Associated Press.
“It was much more political than you might have expected. It was very connecting — I think that was very good.”
In his speech, Charles praised both London and Berlin for providing aid to Ukraine as the Russian invasion of the country continues in its 13th month.
The speech comes as Germany has faced pressure from Western countries for not doing enough to help Ukraine.
Mr Zimmermann said Charles thanking Germans for taking in so many Ukrainians seeking shelter from the war might also be seen as a roundabout criticism of the British government’s recent anti-refugee policies.
Michael Kruse, a lawmaker with the pro-business Free Democrats, said the two countries continue to have many common economic interests.
“The channel has widened due to Brexit,” he said.
“That’s why the visit by Britain’s head of state was all the more important.”
The focus of Charles’ trip to Germany came after his initial plan to visit France first was put off following anti-government protests in the country.
Charles and Camilla also laid a wreath at the remains of St Nikolai church to commemorate the more than 30,000 people, mostly German civilians, who were killed in Operation Gomorrah, the Allied bombing of Hamburg in July 1943.
The King’s visit concluded on Friday with a boat trip and a farewell reception involving musical performances, including by a Beatles cover band and a sea shanty group.
Observers in London said that the visit has helped in renewing diplomatic ties between the two countries.
“I think as coronavirus has faded, we’ve been reminded of the value of face-to-face meetings,” Bronwen Maddox, chief executive of the Chatham House think tank, was quoted as saying.
“And it just does add something to relationships, particularly between heads of state, who are very insulated,” she said.
“I think it has been received very well.”
Additional reporting by agencies
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