State Visits are the highest expressions of diplomacy. They can be done either to soften sharp edges in diplomatic relations between two nations or to reaffirm the bond already existing and explore new potential areas of cooperation.
The State Visit Queen Margarethe will undertake in a few days to Germany falls into the second category.
The two countries share a strong bond that has its ties in geopolitical history since they have always been neighbours and have traded territories, especially in the Jutland Peninsula, back and forth several times.
In fact, the last visit that Her Majesty undertook to Germany was formally in June when the Queen, the Crown Prince and Prince Christian travelled to Denmark’s southern border to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the territory being annexed to their country. During the visit, they crossed into German territory to demonstrate how an area that has always been at war now benefits from the peace that strong diplomatic relations brings.
Since she has lost her husband, Prince Henrik, in 2018, Queen Margarethe will be accompanied by her son, Crown Prince Frederik, for the first portion of the visit.
This was not the case for any of the other previous state visits, during which the Queen and her Prince Consort have always travelled together.
The first State Visit that Queen Margarethe undertook to Germany came in 1974, two years after she became Queen, a symbol of the importance of the Danish relationship with Germany. Back in the day, she was hosted by outgoing President Heinemann. The visit came right in the days during which President Heinemann was supposed to transition his powers to President Scheel, and this State Visit was the last act in the foreign affairs of Gustav Heinemann’s presidency.
1974 represented the last time Queen Margarethe travelled to Germany for a State Visit, and she hosted the German President in Denmark for two state visits after that: one in 1989 and one in 2002.
In 1989, the German President was Richard von Weizsäcker, who would serve a second turn as German President, during which he made history as the first president to a reunified Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the reunification of Germany in 1990.
In 2002, only 12 years after the previous State Visit, Queen Margarethe hosted the German President in Denmark again; this time, it was Johannes Rau, the last president to serve a full term before a decade of resignations and acting presidents that concluded in 2014.
With health safety restrictions, it will be interesting to see what the public can expect from state visits in this era in terms of items on the agenda, but one thing is certain: an excellent Danish relationship with Germany is vital for both populations.