April 18. 2024. 12:51

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King Charles lauds unity on Ukraine war in bilingual Bundestag speech


King Charles hailed the historic ties between Britain and Germany while lauding their current unity in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in an address to the Bundestag on Thursday (30 March) on his first state trip overseas as monarch.

The king, on the second day of a three-day trip to Germany, alternated between German and English for the half-hour speech, which won a standing ovation from lawmakers.

The address made no reference to Brexit or the European Union but Charles’ visit is part of efforts to reset Britain’s relations after its 2020 departure from the bloc and he said he wanted to “renew” the “special bond” with Germany.

Was a pleasure to attend King Charles’ speech in the Bundestag. A speech full of British-German symbolism, though steering around most political issues. Most impressive was his command of German, including fluent pronunciation of words like "Rechenschaftspflichtverantwortung" pic.twitter.com/1hLRWYONuF

— Nicolai von Ondarza (@NvOndarza) March 30, 2023

The 74-year-old monarch, who succeeded his mother Queen Elizabeth when she died in September, noted that war had returned to Europe since the last time he spoke in Germany’s lower house of parliament as part of a remembrance ceremony, in 2020.

“Since I last spoke in this building the scourge of war is back in Europe,” he told a packed plenum which included the chancellor, the president and several former presidents.

“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.”

Both Britain and Germany had shown “vital leadership”, Charles said, praising Berlin’s decision to provide large military support to Ukraine as “remarkably courageous, important and appreciated”.

Charles, who has German ancestry and who has visited Germany in a personal and official capacity more than 40 times, met later with some of the Ukrainians who have taken refuge in Germany since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of its neighbour.

He played table football with some of the refugees who are living in temporary accommodation at the former Tegel airport.

In a light moment in his speech, Charles referred to the countries’ regard for each other’s culture such as The Beatles and Kraftwerk – noting German was the first language the works of William Shakespeare were translated into.

Didn’t expect King Charles to drop in a
mention of Kraftwerk in relation to our
cultural connections but I guess that’s
safer than quoting Fawlty Towers…