Making references to Shakespeare, Turner’s paintings of the Rhine, and the “pioneer of tourism” Thomas Cook, he added: “More recent generations may think as readily of the Beatles or Kraftwerk, as they do of Brahms or Byron, but the web of cultural connections is as strong as ever.
“In just a few weeks’ time, the astonishing music of George 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.”
The biggest laugh, however, was reserved for a reference to a 1963 British comedy called Dinner for One, his second public mention of the film within 24 hours.
The sketch, which is hugely popular in Germany and shown on television every New Year, depicts a butler who gets increasingly intoxicated as he helps his employer celebrate her 90th birthday by acting out the parts of her late friends, dutifully downing their glasses of sherry, wine, champagne and port.
It does not “give a very accurate impression of modern Britain”, the King insisted, but “it is, I know, an integral part of a German Happy New Year”.