King pledges to ‘strengthen connections’ between UK and Germany at banquet speech

ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship reports from Berlin, where the King is making a state visit as monarch

The King has pledged to “strengthen the connections” between the UK and Germany as he paid tribute to the “enduring value” of the two nations’ relationship.

In the first state banquet speech of his reign, Charles stressed that he was “utterly convinced” the bond between Britain and one of the EU’s leading nations “will grow ever stronger”.

He drew laughs from guests at the white-tie event when he referenced a British comedy sketch hugely popular in Germany called “dinner for one”, about an elderly aristocrat who dines alone while her waiter gets progressively more drunk as he consumes alcohol poured for her missing dinner guests.

Charles and Camilla were formally welcomed to Germany by a military band playing God Save The King.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, his wife Elke Buedenbender, the King and Queen Consort in front of the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. Credit: AP

Marking their first state visit as King and Queen Consort, the pair visited Berlin's Brandenburg Gate – a national symbol of peace and unity – with Germany’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Budenbender. 

The foursome posed for waiting photographers with the famous landmark in the background before the national anthems of the UK and Germany were played.

The King inspected a guard of honour, accompanied by the president, before Charles, Camilla, the German statesman and his wife went on a brief walkabout, meeting people waiting behind nearby crash barriers.

King Charles III and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier plant a tree after attending a 'green energy' reception in Berlin. Credit: PA

Earlier in the day, Charles and Camilla said in a joint statement, released on their official Twitter account, it was a “great joy” to be able to develop the “longstanding friendship between our two nations”.

The couple had been greeted by a 21-gun salute and a fly-past by two fighter jets after they first landed in Germany.

As a mark of respect two Typhoon jets escorted the plane carrying the King and Queen Consort, their entourage and a large number of media for a period as it approached Berlin-Brandenburg Government Airport.

The trip has been overshadowed by the postponement of the French leg of the European tour, which was shelved by President Emmanuel Macron last Friday after violent nationwide protests against the French leader’s retirement age reforms.

The decision was made amid reports the King may have been targeted during further demonstrations planned by protesters to coincide with the visit.

A military band plays God Save The King as Charles and Camilla watch on

Waiting at the bottom of Voyager’s steps to welcome the monarch and his wife was a line of dignitaries including the British Ambassador to Germany, Jill Gallard, and the State Secretary Dorte Dinger.

A guard of honour lined the red carpet walked by the couple who made their way to a waiting motorcade which took them to the German capital.

Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate was the backdrop for Charles and Camilla’s official welcome to Germany, the first time the location had been used to welcome any visiting head of state.

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In the evening, a state banquet was staged in the King’s honour by President Steinmeier and reports claim some of Charles’ German cousins have been invited.

The King spoke German as he addressed guestes.

Among a string of Charles’ German relatives is Prince Donatus of Hesse, who dined with the late Queen when she visited Frankfurt during a 2015 state visit with the Duke of Edinburgh.

The couple will return to England from Germany after three days.