Status: 03/29/2023 10:51 a.m
Three days of royal splendor in Germany: British King Charles III. and Queen Camilla arrive for a state visit. Where does the couple stay, what does Charles do in the Bundestag – and can you also see the royals in Berlin or Hamburg?
the initial situation
King Charles III arrives before his coronation. together with his wife Queen Camilla to Germany. The three-day visit will now even be his first destination abroad. Actually, Charles should have visited France first, However, the trip was postponed indefinitely in view of the protests there against the pension reform.
Is Charles in Germany for the first time?
No. As heir to the throne, he has often been to Germany. According to the British Embassy, Charles was officially in Germany around 30 times, plus there were private visits. As a 13-year-old, he accompanied his father Prince Philip to Frankfurt to visit relatives from there. The German Press Agency wrote in April 1962 that they had made the flight “in a four-engined private plane belonging to the Queen of England”.
Queen Elizabeth II with her children Charles and Anne, her husband Prince Philipp and the dogs “Sugar” and “Candy” (picture from 1955).
What is planned in Berlin?
Not every guest of state is granted a reception at the airport with a 21-shot salute – the Royals from London get it. A premiere will later be the greeting with military honors at the Brandenburg Gate. No guest has ever been officially welcomed here. Berlin’s landmark offers more space than Bellevue Palace, where the ceremonial normally takes place. And it has the advantage that citizens can also take a look at the guests there. The same applies here: early arrival ensures good (standing) places. The British Embassy in Berlin recommends arriving around 10.30 a.m. – and no later than 1.30 p.m. Those who like it more comfortable can watch the live special broadcast on the first station shortly after 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.: “Royal state visit: King Charles in Berlin” with impressions of the military honors at the Brandenburg Gate and the reception at Bellevue Palace.
The ceremonial will be as usual: the staff music corps of the Bundeswehr will play both national anthems, guest and host will walk through the guard battalion’s honor formation.
Also, not every guest of state will be accompanied by the Federal President for three days, but the British monarch and his wife will: Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender will accompany the royal couple on all three days – a special sign of appreciation.
The preparations for the royal visit are underway: On Thursday, the British King Charles III will meet on Pariser Platz in front of the Brandenburg Gate. and Queen Camilla greeted with military honors.
Steinmeier then invited people from politics, research, business and civil society in the field of energy transition and sustainability to a reception at his office – a topic that is particularly important to Charles. It will be festive in the evening at the state banquet for the royal couple and around 130 invited guests in Bellevue Palace. According to reports, the king wants to hold long passages of his after-dinner speech in German.
On the second day of the state visit, the couple will be welcomed by Berlin’s acting Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) and Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD). Then it’s off to the weekly market at Berlin’s Wittenbergplatz. Then Charles III. as the first monarch ever to give a speech in the Bundestag. During a visit to the Ukraine arrival center in the former Tegel airport, he also wants to meet with refugees who recently came to Germany.
How much security does a royal couple need?
During the royal couple’s state visit to Berlin, the level of security is comparable to that of top politicians in the capital. The king is the head of state and the couple have a “very, very high level of awareness”, which triggers a certain level of danger among the police, said police director and head of operations Thomas Drechsler. However, the measures are not as strict as during recent visits by US Presidents or Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The police are preparing extensive security measures and traffic closures. On Wednesday, a total of around 900 police officers will be deployed to block streets and squares and provide security, and then around 1,100 police officers on Thursday. The police received support from other federal states through 20 explosive detection dogs, said Drechsler. Many places and vehicles have to be examined and there are not that many sniffer dogs in Berlin.
The royal couple is traveling in a Bentley luxury sedan. It is accompanied by a motorcade made up of personal employees, the police, representatives of the German state and the British embassy.
The three-day visit with many stops in Berlin and Brandenburg and an onward journey to Hamburg requires demanding logistics. The special challenge here is to reconcile the king’s wishes for direct contact with Berliners, Brandenburgers and Hamburgers and security.
King Charles III of Great Britain and King Consort Camilla (archive photo from 3.10.2022)
Where are the royals staying?
Traditionally, there is silence about some of the details of the royal visit, such as the question of the hotel. However, the “Adlon” is preparing for high-ranking visitors. However, there is no comment on the luxury hotel in the immediate vicinity of the British Embassy, ”for reasons of discretion”. Queen Elizabeth II has resided there twice. The 185 square meter suite with a view of the Brandenburg Gate was renamed the Royal Suite after its second stay in 2015. A signed photo of her and her husband, Prince Philip, hangs in the living room, which has a fireplace and a black grand piano. Opposite the dining room there is a mini kitchen where you could have tea made even in the middle of the night. In the bathroom, Charles III. and his wife Queen Camilla have their own personal sauna. The bed in the adjoining bedroom is oversized – king size.
Since the monarch’s visits, the staff has known the preferences of the British royal family. Everything has to be spot on for the royal visit: lifting the red carpet from the car; roll out under the curious eyes of Berlin visitors to the street where the limousine will stop; sweep away the last crumbs with the broom. Once the guest of state has driven up, they walk across the red carpet into the lobby, past the guests into the elevator – and without a stop to the Royal Suite. A butler is on duty around the clock if you rent the suite for around 20,000 euros.
The red carpet is already being rolled out in front of the Hotel Adlon in Berlin. Everything indicates that Charles III. and Camilla will probably be accommodated where Queen Elizabeth II has already been a guest.
What is His Majesty doing in the Bundestag?
Royal splendor also in the German Parliament: No king has ever spoken here. Charles III’s Speech in the Bundestag should also be one of the highlights of the visit to Germany. Already in November 2020 he spoke in the German Parliament. On the occasion of the day of remembrance, the then heir to the throne invoked the British-German partnership and emphasized the common values of Germany and Great Britain – initially in German. He then went into the history of Berlin in English.
What does the king want in Brandenburg?
On Thursday afternoon we go to Brandenburg: Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) receives Charles III. and Steinmeier at the shipping office in Finowfurt. There they meet members of the German-British Pioneer Bridge Battalion 130, who show them how to build bridges with special vehicles.
Afterwards, the monarch, who is known for his commitment to sustainability, has a visit to the organic farm Ökodorf Brodowin on the program. The British guest wants to find out more about ecological agriculture and wetland protection, among other things.
During her husband’s stay in Brandenburg, Camilla visited the Komische Oper in Berlin together with Steinmeier’s wife Elke Büdenbender.
On Friday morning, the royal couple, accompanied by Steinmeier and Büdenbender, will take the train to Hamburg, where they will be welcomed by First Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) at Dammtor station. The couple wants to lay flowers at the Kindertransport monument in front of the train station. The sculpture commemorates one of the most spectacular rescue operations before the outbreak of the Second World War: from December 1938 to August 1939, more than 10,000 mostly Jewish children were brought to England by train and ship. Charles and Camilla will also lay wreaths at the St. Nikolai memorial. The church was destroyed by Allied air raids during World War II and is now dedicated to the victims of war and tyranny from 1933 to 1945.
Later, Hamburg royalists will also have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the British royal couple on the Rathausmarkt. The couple then signs the Hanseatic city’s golden book in the town hall. Then while for Charles III. a harbor tour with Hamburg entrepreneurs is also on the agenda, Camilla wants to go to a school with Büdenbender that teaches bilingually in German and English. The three-day state visit ends with a reception hosted by the British Embassy.
What can go wrong?
many. Such a state visit is meticulously planned, and the chiefs of protocol have been working on the schedule for months. And yet uncertainties remain. Traffic jams, delays (Deutsche Bahn!), the royal visit to the weekly market lasts longer – but tangible embarrassments are not excluded. So be careful when choosing your gift. Queen Elizabeth, for example, was visibly not amused by the gift that the then Federal President Joachim Gauck presented to her during her visit in the summer of 2015. The painting “Horse in Royal Blue” was not well received by the Queen. It shows a blue horse and a man in a bright yellow jacket who is supposed to be her father but doesn’t look like her father. The Queen reacted – royally polite, of course – irritated by the guest gift. Gauck tried to save the embarrassing situation with Lübeck marzipan.
So much can go wrong during royal visits – like in 2015, when then-President Gauck presented the Queen with a gift that caused more irritation than joy.
Bild: picture alliance / dpa