Prince Charles will ask politicians to protect Britain’s historic bond with Germany in a speech
Prince Charles will tonight ask politicians to protect Britain’s historic bond with Germany.
In what may be seen as a push for a softer Brexit, the heir to the throne will point out that the two nations have transcended years of conflict to become friends and partners.
And he will say he hopes any future relationship stays strong for the sake of young people today and generations to come.
He will acknowledge the Brexit crisis, saying of Anglo-German ties: ‘It is a relationship in transition.
‘But whatever the shape of our future relationship, and whatever is negotiated and agreed between governments and institutions, it is more clear to me than it has ever been, that the bonds between us will, and must, endure – and that our young people, and future generations, will have as much cause to cherish those bonds as our generation has had.
‘Our countries and our people have been through so much together. As we look towards the future, I can only hope that we can also pledge to redouble our commitment to each other and to the ties between us.
‘In so doing, we can ensure that our continent will never again see the division and conflict of the past; that together, we will continue to be an indispensable force for good in our world; and that the friendships and partnerships that bind us together will continue to create opportunity for us all.’
The Prince of Wales will acknowledge the Brexit crisis in his speech and say it is a ‘relationship in transition’
Prince Charles’s trip begins in Berlin today as the royal couple meet Mrs Merkel and German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Charles’s speech will come at the start of a four-day trip to Germany with his wife, Camilla.
Undertaken at the request of the British Government, the visit will highlight the depth of the bilateral relationship and its ‘enduring importance to both countries’.
Charles and Camilla’s trip was supposed to come in the wake of Britain’s departure from the EU on March 29. It was decided the visit should go ahead despite Brexit being delayed.
Since the Queen no longer travels abroad, any visit by Charles is akin to a state visit and viewed by the Government as a weapon in its diplomatic armoury. Senior royals are seen to have the ability to open doors that politicians cannot.
The trip begins in Berlin today as the royal couple meet Mrs Merkel and German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
They will lay a wreath to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Berlin airlift, in which Britain played a significant part, as well as attend a dinner hosted by the British ambassador at which Charles will deliver his speech.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will meet the royal couple as part of the trip which was scheduled to take place after the March 29 Brexit
Tomorrow they will travel to Leipzig and then to Munich, where Camilla will highlight projects working with victims of domestic violence. It is the prince’s speech, however, that is expected to capture the headlines.
One aide said Charles, who has spent weeks crafting his words in Highgrove and Birkhall, his English and Scottish country retreats, feels passionately that ‘despite whatever may happen in the political process we cannot lose the cultural ties that bind us’.
‘It was written from a deeply personal perspective given his family connections,’ the source added.
He will highlight his family’s German ancestry – an interesting move given that his ancestors spent many years playing this down. George V changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor because of anti-German sentiment in the First World War.
Since the Queen no longer travels abroad, any visit by Charles is akin to a state visit and viewed by the Government as a weapon in its diplomatic armoury, representing the interests of the government abroad
Charles will say today: ‘For some of us, of course, these connections are particularly personal. For me there are so many family connections and associations with Germany, as indeed with so many parts of Europe, going back for generations.
‘This year, for instance, we celebrate the bicentenaries of my great, great, great grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who were both born in 1819.
‘Prinz Albert von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha was the most remarkable man who, in his all-too-short life, had such far-reaching influence on the arts, science, trade and industry in Britain.
‘To my family, he brought not just familial ties to what is now Germany, which we still cherish, but an affinity with German culture, and tradition, and a wish to share it across national borders.
‘Today, we are so much more than simply neighbours: we are friends and natural partners, bound together by our common experience, mutual interests and shared values.
‘These past decades have seen extraordinary change across Europe and Berlin is a proud statement of just how far we have come and of the enduring hope of past, present and future generations.
‘We must take nothing for granted, and of how today, as for centuries, the fortunes of all of us who share this small continent are so tightly interwoven by the myriad connections between us.’
The Queen was also seen as having entered the Brexit fray, telling her local Women’s Institute in Sandringham, Norfolk, of the need for common ground and ‘never losing sight of the bigger picture’.
It echoed her Christmas address when she said that treating others with respect was ‘always a good first step towards greater understanding.’
And the Duke of Cambridge has also urged people to ‘come together in times of trouble and work for the common good’.
German ties that go back 300 years
The British monarchy has been closely linked with German royalty for at least three centuries.
Queen Anne’s death in 1714 brought the House of Stuart to an end and marked the beginning of the House of Hanover.
Anne was a Protestant, but more than 50 of her closest relatives were Catholics and banned from succeeding to the throne by an Act of Parliament.
As a result she was succeeded by her German second cousin George I, who had been Georg Ludwig the Prince Elector of Hanover. From 1814 the British monarch was also King of Hanover.
The British monarchy has been closely linked with German royalty for at least three centuries with Prince Charles a descendant of Prince Albert from Germany
That connection ended when Queen Victoria took over in 1837 because she was a woman, but under her reign the German connection became even stronger.
She married another German – her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Their nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent and Queen Victoria became known as the ‘grandmother of Europe’.
Albert had a profound impact on Britain. He led reforms in university education, welfare, the royal finances and slavery. He also had a special interest in the development of science.
He died at the age of 42, leaving Victoria devastated – she mourned for him for the rest of her life.
The House of Hanover ended with Victoria’s death in 1901. Her son and successor Edward VII was the first king in the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha – another German name.
This close German connection did not go down well in Britain and across the empire during the First World War. The Kaiser, Germany’s Wilhelm II, was Queen Victoria’s grandson and our George V’s first cousin.
It led to a name change in the royal house to the more British-sounding Windsor, after the castle. Queen Elizabeth II chose to keep the Windsor name when she came to the throne in 1952.