Merkel takes bow as media serenades her with ‘Happy Birthday’ on her 60th
Germany cringes as TV correspondent sings
In paintings, letters, songs and videos, Empress Angela’s subjects paid homage to their great leader yesterday on the occasion of her 60th birthday.
Bild, the imperial court journal, lead the way, reprinting 60 portraits submitted by awestruck readers aged from three to 88. The works, in oil, pencil and pastel, ranged from Renaissance-style portraits to trippy, pop art extravaganzas.
Also in Bild, political mentor Helmut Kohl warned his protege to stand her ground against recent demands from neighbours for greater flexibility on euro debt rules.
“I would like to support your holding tight to a united Europe, driving forward political unity and continuing to stand for the necessary stability,” he wrote. “The unified Europe and the euro can only fulfil the hope placed in them when we are, as a stability union, stronger and better able to act than as member states.”
On its website, Bild presented a video of Empress Angela’s favourite song, the sailor shanty We Love the Storm. Sung by readers, politicians and local singing stars Heino and Vicky Leandros, the song is beloved by drinkers for its repetitive chorus.
In Brussels German television correspondent Udo van Kampen serenaded Empress Angela at a post-midnight press conference but, despite his demands, no other journalists joined in his rendition of “Heepy Bursday to you liebe Bundeskanzlerin”.
“It wasn’t as formidable a chorus as I’d thought,” said van Kampen afterwards, looking reproachfully at his fellow journalists. “I should have sung along, eh, it would have been better,” said the birthday girl, in a lemon blazer and white trousers, “but thank you anyway, each to their own.”
Van Kampen’s performance went viral online yesterday in Germany with Fremdschämen – the feeling of embarrassment on someone else’s behalf – the most common response.
The European Council, unable to present a new president at its summit yesterday, presented the German leader instead with a football jersey, with “Merkel 60” on the back.
Ahead of yesterday evening’s birthday party in Berlin with 1,000 of her closest friends, the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily reran a series of questions to, and answers from, Empress Angela.