King Charles III has spoken of the “enduring value” of the relationship between the United Kingdom and Germany during his first state visit abroad since ascending the throne last year.
Charles and Camilla, the Queen consort, received a 21-gun salute after landing at Berlin’s government airport in the early afternoon on Wednesday, as two military jets performed a flyover. The initial leg of the trip to France was delayed.
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Steinmeier and his wife Elke Budenbender met the British royals at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and then accompanied and hosted them at a white-tie dinner at Schloss Bellevue, the German president’s official residence.
On Thursday, the king is scheduled to give a speech to the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament. He will also meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz, talk to Ukrainian refugees, and meet UK and German military personnel working on joint projects. In the afternoon, he will visit an organic farm outside Berlin.
Charles, 74, who ascended the throne after the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in September, is set to be crowned on May 6. He had initially planned to first visit France but the first leg of his trip was cancelled due to the large-scale protests over planned pension changes there.
The visit to EU powerhouses France and Germany was designed to underscore UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s efforts to rebuild relations with the bloc after the UK’s exit as well as their shared history as they combat Russia’s military action in Ukraine.
Sunak hopes goodwill created by a royal visit can help pave the way for progress on other issues post-Brexit, including the UK’s return to an EU programme that funds scientific research across Europe.
In Germany, the king faces the first big test of whether he can win hearts and minds abroad, just as his mother did for seven decades, and become an effective conduit for the “soft power” the House of Windsor has traditionally wielded.
The visit will also be an opportunity to highlight the causes he holds dear, like sustainability and the environment.
The royal couple plan to go to Hamburg on Friday, where they will attend a green energy event and visit the Kindertransport memorial for Jewish children who fled from Germany to the UK during the Third Reich, before returning to the UK.