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King at memorial for wartime air raids on Germany

02-04-2023

BERLIN: The UK and Germany should fill the next chapters of their relationship “with the restless pursuit of a better tomorrow”, King Charles has said.

His speech, in both English and German, was the first by a British monarch to the German parliament and was met with a standing ovation.

There was also laughter in the Bundestag when the King touched upon the Lionesses’ victory at the Euros.

The King is on the second day of his first overseas trip as monarch.

He used the occasion to thank the people of Germany for their “extraordinary kindness” when his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, died last September and said his family was “deeply touched”.

He also praised the “vital leadership” shown by Germany and the UK in helping Ukraine.

His three-day tour of Germany with Camilla, the Queen Consort, began on Wednesday.

It was meant to be the second stop on the trip, but a planned visit to France was cancelled after unrest in several cities over pension reforms.

The King received loud applause at the German Bundestag on Thursday morning for his historic speech, which was mostly delivered in German and referred warmly to his own family ties with the country.

He celebrated the “special bond” between the UK and Germany, and said he hoped to “renew the pledge of friendship between our nations”.

Talking of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the King said: “Since I last spoke in this building, the scourge of war is back in Europe”.

It has left freedom and human dignity “trampled in the most brutal way”, he told the chamber.

He said Europe’s security had been threatened, but praised how the UK and Germany had “responded decisively” and shown “vital leadership”.

The King was pitching his speech to the home crowd, but he seemed relaxed and appeared to be enjoying making his own mark in this first overseas trip as head of state.

He also made some cultural references about electronic pop band Kraftwerk, Monty Python and the Beatles during his speech, which were met with laughter. Whether the King really did have Kraftwerk albums or it was a speechwriter hitting Google it will never be known.

The King noted that the first Shakespeare association was established not in England, but in Weimar, and the music of George Frideric Handel would be playing at his coronation in May.

“The web of cultural connections is as strong as ever,” he said, adding that over the last 50 years “we have laughed together – both at each other and with each other”.

The King also talked humorously about the clashes between both countries on the football pitch, specifically highlighting the Lionesses’ recent win against Germany in the Euros last summer.

The speech ended with a nod to the future of German-British relations. He said: “Heeding the lessons of the past is our sacred responsibility.

“In the long and remarkable story of our countries, there are many chapters not yet written. Let us fill these with the restless pursuit of a better tomorrow.”

It was also well received that the King touched on the sensitive issue of remembering those Germans killed in allied air raids during the Second World War. He really did mention the war, but in a way that reflected a more grown-up relationship between the countries. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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