King Charles becomes first British monarch to deliver speech in German parliament

Charles delivered a speech celebrating the deep historical bonds between Germany and the UK, as Chris Ship reports

The King has become the first British monarch to address German politicians from the Bundestag, while the parliament is in session, during his historic state visit to the country.

Charles delivered a speech celebrating the deep historical bonds and longstanding links between Germany and the UK.

The high profile trip, which is the monarch's inaugural foreign trip since becoming king, is aimed at bolstering ties between the European powers.

The King began his speech by thanking Germany's head of state, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, for inviting him.

As he addressed the crowd, Charles spoke mostly in German, with some passages in English.

King Charles speaks in the German parliament Bundestag on the second day of his trip to Germany in Berlin. Credit: AP

He thanked the country for its kindness following the death of his mother, the late Queen.

"It means a great deal to both my wife and myself that we have been invited to Germany on my first overseas tour as Sovereign, and it is a particular honour to be here with you where I wish to renew the pledge of friendship between our nations," Charles said.

"Today, it gives me particular pride to be with you once again, now as King, and to renew the special bond of friendship between our countries.

"This friendship meant so much to my beloved Mother, the late Queen, who often spoke of the fifteen official visits she made to Germany, including her five State Visits."

Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort, arrived in Berlin on Wednesday to crowds of well-wishers.

President Steinmeier greeted the couple at the capital’s iconic Brandenburg Gate and they later attended a banquet in their honour at the presidential palace.

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Charles has spoken to the Bundestag before, at a commemorative event held by the German War Graves Commission in 2020, though he was still the Prince of Wales at the time.

His speech on Thursday referenced the invasion of Ukraine, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin over a year ago, which the monarch described as "unprovoked".

"Since I last spoke in this building the scourge of war is back in Europe," Charles said.

"The unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has inflicted the most unimaginable suffering on so many innocent people.

"Countless lives have been destroyed; freedom and human dignity have been trampled in the most brutal way.

"The security of Europe has been threatened, together with our democratic values.

"The world has watched in horror - but we have not stood by. Even as we abhor the appalling scenes of destruction, we can take heart from our unity - in defence of Ukraine, of peace and freedom."

The King shakes hands with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Credit: AP

He went on to commend Germany’s decision to send such significant military support to Ukraine, which he described as "remarkably courageous, important and appreciated".

Charles briefly touched on the grim history of Nazism and World War II.

“Heeding the lessons of the past is our sacred responsibility, but it can only be fully discharged through a commitment to our shared future,” he said.

"Together we must be vigilant against threats to our values and freedoms, and resolute in our determination to confront them.

"Together we must strive for the security, prosperity and well-being that our people deserve."

Charles and Camilla will visit Hamburg on Friday to pay respects at a memorial to the Kindertransporte, or children's transports, which saw the lives of more than 10,000 Jewish children rescued from Nazi Germany 85 years ago.

They will also commemorate those killed in the Allied bombing of Hamburg in 1943.

Continuing his speech, the monarch largely trod on safe territory, making gentle jokes about soccer rivalry, national humour and mutual admiration for each others' cultures - from the Beatles to Kraftwerk, and Brahms to Byron.

With a quip about the Lionesses’ victory over Germany at Euro 2022, Charles hailed it as “just one example of how our countries, together, can offer a compelling example to the world”.

“Faced with so many shared challenges, the United Kingdom and Germany are together providing leadership to secure our shared future,” he added.

The King also touched on climate change leadership before concluding: “In the long and remarkable story of our two countries, there are many chapters yet unwritten.

"Let us fill these with the restless pursuit of a better tomorrow.

"The legacy of our past, and the great promise of our future, demand nothing less.”

Charles and Camilla (centre) with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (right) and his wife Elke Buedenbender at the Bellevue Palace. Credit: AP

Later, the King will attend a meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the Federal Chancellery building.

Charles and Camilla will also visit Wittenbergplaztz Food Market and meet a range of local business owners who will discuss the history of the market.

Germany has welcomed more than a million Ukrainian refugees seeking sanctuary after Russia invaded their homeland and Charles will tour the Tegel Refugee Centre to meet some of the group.

Separately the Queen Consort will visit the Refugio House community centre, a meeting place for locals and new Berlin residents, including refugees.

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