King Charles III has praised Germany’s “courageous, important and welcome” pivot from postwar pacifism to military support for Ukraine, earning a standing ovation in the first Bundestag address by a British monarch.
Speaking largely in German, the British monarch said the UK and Germany had shown “vital leadership” as Europe’s largest military aid donors to Ukraine in its response to Russia’s “unprovoked invasion”.
“We have responded decisively, we have taken decisions that might previously have seemed unimaginable,” he said. The war had seen “human dignity trampled in the most brutal way” but the western world could “take heart from our unity”.
“Together we must be vigilant against threats to our values,” he said, warning that “the security of Europe as well as our democratic values are under attack”.
On the second day of his three-day state visit to Germany, the king recalled his mother’s affection for the country and promised, as king, to “reassert the commitment between our countries on the basis of friendship”.
In his Bundestag address, the king said his own 40 trips were a reflection of his interest in Germany and close family ties here, through both parents, to the Houses of Hanover and Hesse.
Avoiding Brexit, the king highlighted modern and historic ties including soccer rivalries, The Beatles and German-born Georg Friedrich Handel, whose music will be played at May’s coronation. The monarch’s first state visit was planned for France, but the trip was postponed due to strikes.
As well as meeting chancellor Olaf Scholz, the king and the Queen Consort Camilla visited a food market in western Berlin.
On Wednesday evening guests at a state banquet included ex-chancellor Angela Merkel and, a special request of the king, Strictly Come Dancing judge Motsi Mabuse.
She said the royal couple were big fans and that she had asked them to consider inviting the show to Buckingham Palace.
“I don’t consider it impossible,” Ms Mabuse said afterwards, “that this dream will become reality.”
On Friday in Hamburg, Germany’s second city, the royal couple will visit a memorial to the so-called children’s transports which saw more than 10,000 Jewish children evacuated from Nazi Germany.
“Heeding the lessons of the past is our sacred responsibility, but it can only be fully discharged through a commitment to our shared future,” the king said in the Bundestag.
The royal visit is part of a campaign to rebuild the image of Britain in Germany after Brexit tensions. A flash YouGov survey on Thursday saw 13 per cent of Germans “sure” the visit would improve bilateral relations, with an additional 37 per cent saying this was “likely”. By comparison, 27 per cent felt it would not improve post-Brexit ties while 24 per cent had no opinion.
Not all German parties were enthused at how the German parliament rolled out the red carpet on Thursday.
“I consider it absurd to allow a king speak in the Bundestag,” said Ates Gürpınar, deputy leader of the Left Party. “Let’s not forget: monarchies are, in the end, dictatorships with more tinsel.”