King Charles today became the first British monarch to address the Bundestag in Berlin – and did almost the entire historic speech in German – as his state visit went from strength to strength.
There were nods of approval and several rounds of applause from MPs as His Majesty spoke about the ‘friendship’ between ‘our nations’, and at times the royal looked emotional to be there.
Charles also spoke movingly about the Queen’s love for Germany and how he was moved by the tributes from its people after she died last September. He added: ‘This friendship meant so much to my beloved mother, the Queen.’
The King praised Germany for standing up for Ukraine after Russia’s invasion, saying it ‘threatens’ Europe’s security but that he was ‘encouraged’ by the ‘unity’ shown by Britain, Germany and other nations.
He also joked about the rivalry between the two countries played out on the football pitch, including the Lionesses’ recent defeat of Germany’s women at Euro 2022.
There was also an ovation as he spoke of the ability of the nations to laugh ‘both with each other and at each other’ and their shared love of sport, literature and music, referencing The Beatles and Kraftwerk.
He said: ‘In just a few weeks’ time, the astonishing music of Georg Friedrich Handel – who was born a German, and died British – will once again soar through Westminster Abbey at the Coronation, just as it has at every Coronation since that of my seven times great grandfather, King George II, in 1727′.
But there was no mention of Brexit, only Germany and Britain working together on net zero and renewable energy including wind farms, a personal passion for the King.
Britain’s King Charles addresses the members of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, and received laughter and rapturous applause as he spoke in German
King Charles and Camilla, Queen Consort sign the guest book as Bundestag President Baerbel Bas watches on this morning
King Charles III addresses members of the German Bundestag at the Reichstag Building
Speaking in both German and English, Charles, 74, said he was honoured to renew the bonds of friendship between the two countries as he spoke to dignitaries and German MPs.
He also paid a touching tribute to his mother, thanking Germany for the ‘deep sympathies’ offered by the German people after the Queen’s passing.
The King referred to his mother’s first visit to Germany in 1965, when the continent was still ‘scarred’ by war.
And he noted that, since he last spoke in the Bundestag, the scourge of war has returned to Europe.
He said: ‘The unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has inflicted the most unimaginable suffering on so many innocent people.
‘Countless lives have been destroyed, freedom and human dignity have been trampled in the most brutal way [and] the security of Europe has been threatened.’
But he added that the world has ‘not merely stood by’ and that ‘we can take heart from our unity’.
‘Germany and the United Kingdom have shown vital leadership,’ he said.
‘As Europe’s two largest donors to Ukraine, we have responded decisively. We have taken decisions that might previously have seemed unimaginable.’
In an impressive speech lasting more than 20 minutes, Charles heralded Britain’s close bond with our near neighbours, while impressively switching between German and English to tell several jokes drawing huge laughs from the packed chamber.
His Majesty said despite our historical division, our shared values had been cemented because ‘perhaps most importantly, for the last fifty years we have laughed together – both at each other, and with each other.’
The chamber of lawmakers and other dignitaries roared with laughter when Charles, comparing our mutual admiration of The Beatles and Kraftwerk as well as German comic Henning Wehn and Monty Python, said millions of Brits were known ‘to admire Berlin’s vibrant culture and nightlife’.
Charles shared jokes with the MPs, including about football and music
He added: ‘In Britain, Germany’s comedy ambassador, Henning Wehn, has given us an understanding of German quirks, as Monty Python brought our own here.
The King’s Speech
By Rebecca English, Royal Editor in Berlin
The 74-year-old monarch had the nation’s elected representatives in turns clapping loudly and rolling in the aisles as he highlighted the ‘long and remarkable story of our two countries’, with shared interests in everything from music to football and comedy, and highlighted the close co-operation over Ukraine.
Standing in the packed, modern chamber watched by his wife, the Queen Consort, he said: ‘It means a great deal to both my wife and myself that we have been invited to Germany on my first overseas tour as Sovereign, and it is a particular honour to be here with you where I wish to renew the pledge of friendship between our nations.
‘Today, it gives me particular pride to be with you once again, now as King, and to renew the special bond of friendship between our countries. This friendship meant so much to my beloved Mother, The late Queen, who often spoke of the fifteen official visits she made to Germany, including her five State Visits.
‘My Mother understood the immense achievement that reconciliation represented, and in returning to Germany time and again, she was determined to play her own part. It is, perhaps, for this reason that Her late Majesty won a particular place in the affection of the German people.
‘My family and I were so deeply touched by the reaction in Germany to my Mother’s death. The tributes offered in this chamber, the Union Flag projected onto the Brandenburg Gate, and the thousands of messages in condolence books across the country, offered a tremendous comfort in our time of grief. On behalf of my entire family, I can only offer our heartfelt thanks for the extraordinary kindness that the people of Germany showed to us.’
He added: ‘Since I last spoke in this building the scourge of war is back in Europe. The unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has inflicted the most unimaginable suffering on so many innocent people. Countless lives have been destroyed; freedom and human dignity have been trampled in the most brutal way. The security of Europe has been threatened, together with our democratic values.
‘The world has watched in horror – but we have not stood by. Even as we abhor the appalling scenes of destruction, we can take heart from our unity – in defence of Ukraine, of peace and freedom.
‘Germany and the United Kingdom have shown vital leadership. As Europe’s two largest donors to Ukraine, we have responded with taking decisions which might previously have seemed unimaginable. Germany’s decision to send such significant military support to Ukraine is remarkably courageous, important and appreciated.
‘Today, our pilots are flying side-by-side on joint operations over our Baltic allies. Here, in Germany, our armies have established a joint Amphibious Engineer Battalion, which I will visit later today. Germany is the only nation in the world with which the United Kingdom has such a joint unit, an extraordinary testament to the partnership we enjoy.’
Talking of comedy he added: ‘Like all old friends at moments, the warmth of our relationship allows a small smile at each other’s expense. ‘
‘It was particularly special last year that the England women’s football team – the Lionesses – could win the Euros against Germany last year. Beyond their sporting success, both teams have promoted gender equality in such an impressive way. In so doing, they inspired a generation – in Britain, Germany and far beyond, he remarked.
‘This is just one example of how our countries, together, can offer a compelling example to the world. There are, I am delighted to say, very many more. Faced with so many shared challenges, the United Kingdom and Germany are together providing leadership to secure our shared future. ‘
He concluded: ‘Heeding the lessons of the past is our sacred responsibility, but it can only be fully discharged through a commitment to our shared future. Together we must be vigilant against threats to our values and freedoms, and resolute in our determination to confront them. Together we must strive for the security, prosperity and wellbeing that our people deserve.
‘In the long and remarkable story of our two countries, there are many chapters yet unwritten. Let us fill these with the restless pursuit of a better tomorrow. The legacy of our past, and the great promise of our future, demand nothing less.’
‘Like all old friends at moments, the warmth of our relationship allows a small smile at each other’s expense.’
On arrival to the Bundestag, the only organ of state directly elected by the people of Germany, the King and Queen Consort were welcomed by the President of the German Bundestag, Ms. Bärbel Bas.
Charles and Camilla were shown the Bundestag’s Golden Book, signed by Her Late Majesty The Queen and the husband Prince Philip during a visit to Berlin on July 16, 2000.
The royals then signed a new volume of the guestbook to mark their own visit as King and Queen.
After being introduced by the Bundestag president, Charles told how the building hosting him signified ‘a demonstration of what binds our two countries’.
Partially burned down in 1933, before being heavily damaged in WWII British architect Norman Foster redesigned the Reichstag impressive domed glass cupola, intended to be a symbol for transparency and accountability.
Charles said: ‘There could be few better places to do so than in this building which, in its very stones, tells the history of the twentieth century.’
As Charles constantly switched between fluent German and English, one German journalist remarked how the King ‘spoke with great honour’, adding how he was impressed with the monarch’s language skills.
After paying tribute to the late Queen, Charles spoke in German to once against thank the German people for their reaction to her passing and the friendship shown during her 15 official visits to Germany.
He said: ‘My family and I were so deeply touched by the reaction in Germany to my Mother’s death.
‘The tributes offered in this chamber, the Union Flag projected onto the Brandenburg Gate, and the thousands of messages in condolence books across the country, offered a tremendous comfort in our time of grief.
‘On behalf of my entire family, I can only offer our heartfelt thanks for the extraordinary kindness that the people of Germany showed to us.’
Charles received further applause Charles as he heralded the Kindertransporte, which 85 years ago saved the lives of more than 10,000 Jewish children from Nazism.
In the final leg of the royal visit, Charles and Camilla will tomorrow travel to Hamburg which was heavily bombed by the British leading to mass casualties ion 1943.
Charles added: ‘Tomorrow, we will once again stand with the people of Germany in solemn remembrance.
‘In Hamburg, I will pay my respects at the memorial to the Kindertransporte, which, 85 years ago, saved the lives of more than 10,000 Jewish children from Nazism, and gave them safe passage to new lives in Britain.
‘I will also join you, Mr President, and First Mayor Tschentscher, in remembering those who perished in the Allied bombing of Hamburg in 1943.’
Finishing his speech before a standing ovation, Charles closed in German to say: ‘In the long and remarkable story of our two countries, there are many chapters yet unwritten.
‘Let us fill these with the restless pursuit of a better tomorrow. The legacy of our past, and the great promise of our future, demand nothing less.’
Earlier today The King had taken home some German cheese and his wife Camilla chomped on dairy delicacies and honey as the royal couple were greeted by more huge crowds in Berlin today.
On day two of his historic state visit, the British monarch was greeted warmly by Chancellor Olaf Scholz as he arrived at the Federal Chancellery building.
He and the Queen Consort Camilla then met up at the city’s Wittenbergplaztz Food Market.
The royal couple also spoke to a range of local business owners who discussed the history of the market and the produce.
Charles shared a number of big laughs with the crowds and traders, who were keen for the couple to try their sausages, cheese, honey and fresh fruit and vegetables.
The King and Queen Consort‘s state visit to Germany, the first of Charles’ reign, began on Wednesday with a ceremonial greeting at Berlin‘s iconic Brandenburg Gate.
The monarch was meant to be in France earlier in the week but it was called off by President Macron due to ongoing protests over his pension reforms.
During a speech at a state banquet staged in his honour on Wednesday evening, Charles pledged to ‘strengthen the connections’ between the UK and Germany as he paid tribute to the ‘enduring value’ of the two nations’ relationship.
Germany has welcomed more than a million Ukrainian refugees seeking sanctuary after Russia invaded their homeland and Charles will tour the Tegel Refugee Centre to meet some of the group.
Separately the Queen Consort will visit the Refugio House community centre, a meeting place for locals and new Berlin residents, including refugees.
King Charles III points and laughs as he visits a food market on Day two of his royal tour
Camilla waves and Charles is handed some juice at a stall this morning
Berlin’s Mayor Franziska Giffey, Britain’s King Charles and Camilla the Queen Consort visit a farmer’s market on Wittenbergplatz today
The Queen Consort gives a thumbs up during a visit to the Wittenbergplatz market where she grabbed some honey
An armed policeman scans the building surrounding the market
Britain’s Camilla, Queen Consort (L), and Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey (R), greet wellwishers
Camilla samples some honey
An armed police officer stands guard as Britain’s King Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort visit a farmer’s market
King Charles’ trip to Germany has been a massive hit.
On an impromptu walkabout, the monarch was affectionately offered a crown – a paper one – on the first official engagement of his State Visit to Germany yesterday.
He was undertaking a walkabout at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin when he came across a number of well-wishers who were wearing ‘Burger King’ crowns given away by the fast food giant.
One man took his off and tried to press it into the king’s hands, saying politely: ‘This is for you, if you want it.’
Charles smiled broadly and said: ‘I’m alright!’ He, of course, has a number of real ones at home. He also grinned and declined another crown from a woman who said: ‘I have a present for you’.
The King was also seen bending down to pick up a man’s cap before returning it back to him, with the grateful well-wisher thanking him and bowing.
Charles and Camilla – who posed for selfies with fans – were formally greeted at the Brandenburg Gate by Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier and wife Elke Budenbender before the national anthems were played.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomes Britain’s King Charles III at the chancellery in Berlin this morning
Charles skips from his royal car as he begins day two of his historic trip to Germany
Charles and Scholz speak at the Chancellery in Berlin
King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla are welcomed at the Brandenburg Gate by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Buedenbender
In a sign of the importance placed on the visit, the couple were given the first full ceremonial and military welcome at the landmark since the Second World War. Even Queen Elizabeth II, who also visited Berlin for her last ever State Visit abroad in 2015, wasn’t afforded that honour.
They had been due to fly in from Paris but the first part of their visit to France was cancelled at the 11th hour by President Macron amid scenes of huge civil unrest in his country. It will be re-arranged at a later date.
The King spoke for the first time this afternoon about cancelling the visit, telling a reporter it was ‘very sad’.
In Berlin, Queen Consort sported a colourful turquoise coat and dress by Bruce Oldfield and a jaunty hat by Philip Treacy.
And in a beautifully personal detail, she was sporting a brooch that belonged to Queen Elizabeth, given to the late monarch by Queen Mary on her confirmation in 1942.
The King’s foresight on climate change was hailed by President Steinmeier at a green energy reception held at Schloss Bellevue.
The monarch followed a translation of the President’s remarks in a booklet and smiled warmly as Mr Steinmeier repeated them in English.
He also thanked the King for making his first State Visit to Germany, saying: ‘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 monarch was told that this year work will begin on an undersea power cable between the Isle of Grain in Kent and Wilhelmshaven in Germany, with the President adding: ‘This first direct energy link highlights how closely Germany and the United Kingdom are working together to make our economies climate-neutral.
‘I regard this as an encouraging example – just as Your Majesty’s visit to Germany is encouraging.’