March 30 – Charles III of Great Britain will address the German parliament on Thursday, becoming the first monarch to do so, on the occasion of his inaugural state visit as king.
Germany marks Charles’ first trip abroad since he ascended the throne, seen as a “strong gesture” to build ties with the continent after Brexit.
Arriving for their three-day trip on Wednesday, he and Queen Consort Camilla were greeted with military honors at the Brandenburg Gate, the first time the iconic site has lent itself as a backdrop for such a ceremony.
Speaking at a state banquet hosted by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Charles hailed the “enduring value” of the UK’s relations with Germany.
The two countries’ joint support for Ukraine in its battle against Russia’s unprovoked aggression epitomized their commitment to “protect and promote shared democratic values,” it added.
After the ceremonial pomp that marked Wednesday’s arrival, Charles will make key political commitments on the second day of his trip.
He will start the day with talks with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, before addressing the Bundestag.
– Reconciliation –
Thursday will not be the first time that Charles has found himself standing at the lectern of the German lower house.
In November 2020, the then crown prince addressed German lawmakers on the occasion of Remembrance Day in a highly symbolic gesture marking the post-war reconciliation between the two countries.
“We have you and your family to thank for the reconciliation work, the deep friendship between our two people,” host Steinmeier said.
Charles’s mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, had been a symbol of rapprochement after two devastating world wars in which countries found themselves on opposite sides.
It was World War I that led the British royal family to drop their German name, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, for Windsor.
Charles, who is fluent in German in a nod to his blood ties to the country, is expected to deliver his speech to the Bundestag partly in the language of the hosts.
Following the engagement, Charles will meet with Ukrainian refugees before traveling to the neighboring state of Brandenburg, where he will speak to a German-British battalion.
A tour of an organic farm is also on the agenda with environmental themes, which Charles championed long before he became Britain’s sovereign, featured throughout his three-day programme.
Among his first engagements on Wednesday was a reception on sustainability, where he met Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Finance Minister Robert Habeck, both from the Green party.
On Friday, in the port city of Hamburg, he will tour a renewable energy project.
Charles, who has visited Germany 40 times, has always made sustainable agriculture a part of his visits to the country.
The monarch’s decades-long commitment to organic farming has been furthered in part by German professor Hardy Vogtmann, a leading voice in organic farming who became an adviser to Charles in the 1980s.
During a visit to Germany in 1997, Vogtmann arranged for Charles to take a tour of various eco-projects in the western state of Hesse, culminating in Charles jokingly being gifted a bag of compost.
On another occasion in 2013, the Welt newspaper said that Charles was “clearly in his element” chatting with organic farmers and stroking a piglet in a field in Langenburg, north of Stuttgart.
In 2019, Camilla joined her husband on a tour of an organic farm in Glonn, near Munich, where Charles gamely held a rooster in his arms.
The British monarch was initially supposed to travel to France before heading to Germany, but the trip was postponed following violent protests over pension reform.