On Wednesday, King Charles was received with military honors at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate as he began his first state visit overseas as the British monarch, as part of attempts to re-establish links with Europe post-Brexit.
Charles, who replaced his mother Queen Elizabeth as monarch in September, was scheduled to visit France first, but that leg of the journey was canceled owing to severe social upheaval over President Emmanuel Macron’s new pension legislation.
The fact that Charles had picked France and Germany for his first state visit, even before his coronation in May, was an important “European gesture”, said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who greeted Charles and his wife Queen Consort Camilla in Berlin.
“Today, exactly six years after Britain started its exit from the European Union, we are opening a new chapter in our relations,” Steinmeier said.
Over a three-day visit to Berlin, Brandenburg in the east and the northern port city of Hamburg, Charles will attend engagements reflecting issues facing both countries, such as sustainability and the Ukraine crisis, and will also commemorate the past, according to Buckingham Palace.
As a mark of respect, fighter jets escorted Charles’ plane into Berlin, where he became the first visiting head of state to be given a ceremonial welcome at the capital’s most famous landmark, the Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of the country’s division during the Cold War and subsequent reunification.
Underscoring Charles’ interest in environmental causes, one of his first engagements in Berlin was a forum on sustainability, addressing matters from hydrogen and renewables to industrial decarbonization, according to Buckingham Palace.
There, he met Germany’s foreign and economy ministers who are both from the Greens party, junior partner in the country’s three-way coalition, as well as business leaders, academics and civil society representatives.
“Today, we friends and partners, we are looking forwards – and that’s why we are starting this state visit very consciously with a topic that is decisive for our future on this planet,” said Steinmeier.
He noted he was “grateful” Charles had gotten involved in these issues early on.
“We also benefit from your conviction today, your Majesty”, said Steinmeier, who will hold a state banquet at the presidential palace Schloss Bellevue for the royal couple later in the day.