In a rather confusing welcome for The Queen and Prince Philip on their first full day in Germany, the royal couple were presented with a rather odd looking acrylic portrait of Her Majesty atop of a pony with her father, King George VI, holding the reins. Now you may not think that sounds too odd however the portrait, by artist Nicole Leiedenfrost, depicts a blue pony and a barely recognisable Princess Elizabeth and Prince Albert causing Her Majesty to exclaim, “Is that supposed to be my father?”
Prince Philip was also presented with an 18th century map of Europe and some luxury marzipan.
Aside from the slightly awkward exchange of gifts for The Queen and Prince Philip, President Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt’s official welcome for the royal couple at Bellevue Palace went swimmingly.
From their exchange of gifts at Bellevue, The Queen and Prince Philip took a short boat trip along the River Spree to meet up with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery, her official workplace near the Reichstag in the centre of Berlin. While Prince Philip went off to meet with head of the federal chancellery, Peter Altmaier, The Queen and Angela Merkel sat down for a cup of tea and a chat after which they proceeded to the top of the Chancellery so Mrs Merkel could show Her Majesty the Berlin skyline including famous landmarks such as where the Berlin Wall used to run through the centre of the city.
Speaking of The Queen’s State Visit to Germany, British Ambassador to Berlin Sir Simon McDonald commented, “She stands for reliability, continuity, stability, she is the focus of national attention and if there is a national event or a national crisis she is the embodiment of the national spirit. That is something the Germans appreciate, it’s almost a kind of nostalgia for them- if things had worked out differently they would have had something similar, but they don’t.”
Following tea with Angela Merkel, The Queen and Prince Philip made their way to Berlin’s Central Memorial for the Victims of War and Tyranny where she laid a commemorative wreath in front of the memorial’s only object, a statue of a mother holding her dead son. Upon her arrival at the memorial, The Queen was met by Chief of Staff of the German Armed Forces, General Volker Wieker, as well as a Guard of Honour. Massed crowds had also gathered to welcome Her Majesty and The Duke of Edinburgh though were respectfully silent when she arrived, owing to the nature of the event.
Since 1993, the Neue Wache Memorial in Central Berlin has been the main memorial site for the victims of war and tyranny. Until 1990, an honour guard marched in front of this memorial every Wednesday and its only object is a large sculpture simply called ‘Mother with Dead Son’ by Kathe Kollwitz.
As The Queen paid her personal respects, a lone trumpeter played ‘The Good Comrade’, a 19th century lament that plays a ceremonial role in the German Armed Forces.
The memorial was originally built in 1816 as a guardhouse for Prussian soldiers though became a war memorial in 1931 under the Weimar Republic and was adopted by the Soviet Union during the Cold War when it had control of that sector of Berlin.
On Wednesday evening, The Queen and Prince Philip were welcomed back to Bellevue Palace to attend the State Banquet hosted by President Gauck. Also in attendance at the banquet was Prime Minister David Cameron who has been accused of politicising The Queen’s visit as a way of trying to garner support from Angela Merkel over his attempt to negotiate Britain’s deal with the European Union.
The Queen and Prince Philip’s visit to Germany continues until Friday and will see them pay a visit to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, the only one to be liberated by the British.