King Charles III addresses the German Parliament, meets with Scholz

BERLIN (AP) – King Charles III became the first monarch to address Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, on Thursday as part of a high-profile visit by Britain’s head of state to strengthen ties between the two European powers. were on purpose.

Speaking to MPs and other dignitaries to a packed Lower House, Charles stressed the close ties between the United Kingdom and Germany dating back centuries, including his own family ties to the Royal House of Hanover, and the current economic, scientific, cultural and economic links between the two. military cooperation between countries

Charles noted that London and Berlin have provided considerable assistance to Ukraine in its efforts to deter Russia’s invasion, a point that will appeal more to German government officials hearing how their country is trying to help Kiev. Not doing enough.

“Germany’s decision to provide this much military support to Ukraine is very brave, important and welcome,” Charles said.

Speaking mostly in fluent German, he spoke about how the intertwined histories of the two countries can be seen in the home of the Bundestag. Restoration of the former Reichstag building, badly damaged during World War II, in the 1990s was accompanied by a glass cupola designed by British architect Norman Foster, intended to symbolize transparency and accountability.

“From here citizens can actually see their politicians working,” Charles said. “Democracy in Action.”

The 74-year-old strolls largely in safe territory, making soft jokes about football rivalries, national humor and mutual admiration for each other’s cultures – from the Beatles to Kraftwerk and Brahms to Byron. Charles briefly touched on the grim history of Nazism and World War II.

Charles and Camilla will visit Hamburg on Friday to pay respects at a memorial to the Queen Consort, Kindertransport, or children’s transport, that saw more than 10,000 Jewish children rescued from Nazi Germany 85 years ago. They will also remember the more than 30,000 people – most of them civilians – who died in the Allied bombing of Hamburg in July 1943.

“We have a sacred responsibility to heed the lessons of the past, but it can only be fully fulfilled through a commitment to our shared future,” he said. “Together we must be alert to 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.”

When Charles finished his speech, MPs erupted into a prolonged standing ovation, which is rarely seen in Germany’s parliament.

Charles is on his first overseas trip since becoming king. He and Camilla arrived in Berlin on Wednesday. Crowds of well-wishers and Germany’s head of state, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, greeted the couple at the capital’s iconic Brandenburg Gate. He later attended a banquet in his honor at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Apart from the pomp and royal fanfare, the three-day visit has a definite political purpose. The UK government is trying to mend relations with its continental partners after a painful Brexit process.

The fallout has been significant: Britain’s departure from the EU common market has resulted in trade barriers and labor shortages, and the country has been locked out of major European science programmes. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hopes to normalize relations with the 27-nation bloc, with a special focus on the EU’s two biggest powers – France and Germany.

Charles had originally planned to stop in France first, but anti-government protests delayed that part of his trip. It focused attention on Germany, where Britain’s royal family, and especially the late Queen Elizabeth II, has long attracted interest and admiration.

However, not everyone was happy with the tour. Opposition Left Party lawmaker Jan Korte said Charles’s address to the country’s highest political body, the Bundestag, was not in keeping with Germany’s democratic tradition.

“A king is not elected,” Korte told state broadcaster ZDF. “He can obviously speak everywhere and is very welcome, including me, but I think especially in the Bundestag, which is about representing the people, it’s really not appropriate that the emperor should speak.”

At an event commemorating the victims of WWII in 2020, Charles first spoke from the Bundestag, although he was still the Prince of Wales at the time.

Prior to his speech, Charles met briefly with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and visited a farmers’ market in Berlin.

After his speech, Charles visited a refugee center for Ukrainians at Tegel Airport east of Berlin, and a joint German and UK military base stationed near Berlin.