King Charles III makes world debut as tour begins in Germany

BERLIN — BERLIN (AP) — King Charles III arrived in Berlin on Wednesday for his first trip abroad as a British monarch, hoping to improve the UK’s relations with the European Union and show he can win hearts and minds abroad, just as his mother did for seven decades. .

Charles and Camilla, the queen’s consort, landed at Berlin’s government airport in the early afternoon. The king, dressed in a black coat, and his wife, in a light blue coat and a feather-trimmed teal hat worn at a merry angle, stopped at the top of their plane’s steps to receive a 21-gun salute as two military jets performed a flyover.

The royal couple said in a joint statement released on their official Twitter account that it was a “great joy” to be able to develop the “long lasting friendship between our two nations”.

An hour later, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Buedenbender welcomed them with military honors at the German capital’s historic Brandenburg Gate.

Soldiers raise the British and German flags as the national anthems are played. The officials then walked past the crowd who cheered and waved flags, shook hands and chatted briefly with several people.

Some took close-up photos on their phones as Charles and Camilla approached, while others handed them bouquets of flowers. A woman handed Charles a gift bag and said, “I have a small gift for you.”

Police helicopters hovered around and the royal couple and their German hosts were followed by a huge media crowd and security personnel as they made their way across the square in front of the Brandenburg Gate back to their motorcade.

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Charles, 74, who ascended the throne after Queen Elizabeth II’s death in September, will be crowned on May 6. As Britain’s head of state, the King meets with the Prime Minister on a weekly basis and retains his mother’s role as Commonwealth leader.

He initially planned to visit France first, but the first leg of his trip was canceled due to massive protests over planned pension changes there.

Billed as a multi-day tour of the European Union’s two largest countries, the trip was designed to underline British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s efforts to rebuild relations with the bloc after six years of wrangling over Brexit and to emphasize the shared history of the countries during their work. together to combat Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Now everything rests on Germany, where the king faces the first major test of whether he can be an effective conduit for the “soft power” traditionally wielded by the House of Windsor to help Britain pursue its geopolitical goals by glitz and glamor of a 1,000-year-old monarchy.

Charles, a former naval officer who is the first British monarch to earn a university degree, is expected to carry weight where his glamorous mother once wielded star power. His visit to Germany gives him the opportunity to highlight the causes that are dear to him, such as sustainability and the environment.

But there will also be a full dose of pomp that screams royal visit, starting with the ceremonial welcome at the Brandenburg Gate and a white tie dinner at Schloss Bellevue, the official residence of the German president, on Wednesday evening.

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On Thursday, the king will address the Bundestag, the German parliament. He will also meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz, talk to Ukrainian refugees and meet British and German military personnel working together on joint projects. In the afternoon he visits an organic farm outside Berlin.

The royal couple plan to head to Hamburg on Friday, where they will visit the Kindertransport memorial to Jewish children who fled from Germany to Britain during the Third Reich, and attend a green energy event before returning to the UK

The king was urged to make the journey by Sunak, who negotiated a settlement to the long-running dispute over post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland during his first six months in office and reached a deal with France to crack down on the smugglers who transport migrants. transport in small boats across the English Channel. Sunak hopes goodwill created by a royal visit can help pave the way for progress on other issues, including Britain’s return to an EU program that funds scientific research across Europe.

Britain’s senior royals are among the most recognizable people in the world. While their formal powers are strictly limited by law and tradition, they attract the attention of the media and the public, in part because of the historic ceremonies and regalia that accompany them – and also because the public is fascinated with their personal lives.

Elizabeth’s influence stemmed in part from her making more than 100 state visits during her 70 years on the throne, meeting with presidents and prime ministers around the world during a reign that lasted from the Cold War to the Information Age.

Politicians were eager to meet the monarch for tea, if only because she had been around for so long.

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Kirka reported from London.

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