There was a family reunion in Frankfurt on Thursday as The Queen and Prince Philip continued their four day State Visit to Germany. The royal couple met with different branches of Philip’s side of the family at a lunch in Frankfurt on Thursday afternoon and at a Garden Party at the British Embassy in Berlin on Thursday night.
The first port of call for the royal party was St Paul’s Church, the site where the first freely elected legislature in Germany met in 1948. The church is widely regarded as the birthplace of democracy in Germany though it took the country another century and two world wars to get themselves on the path to permanent democracy. The Queen and Prince Philip were welcomed to St Paul’s by the Frankfurt Domsingschule choir of 60 children who performed a German song about freedom of thought.
The day continued at Frankfurt city hall where Her Majesty and Prince Philip were treated to lunch and where guests included The Duke of Edinburgh’s 81 year old nephew, Maximilian, Margrave of Baden and distant cousin Prince Donatus, Landgrave of Hesse, whose family were both victims and aggressors during the Second World War.
While Prince Philip is fluent in German and was able to speak to guests in their native tongue, The Queen had to rely on guests speaking in English to her.
Both Maximilian and Prince Donatus are related to Prince Philip through his sisters. Maximilian’s father Berthold was married to Philip’s sister Princess Theodora while Prince Donatus is related through another sister, Sophie, who married Prince Christoph of Hesse, a Schutzstaffel officer.
A family reunion in 2015 is fine however there would have been a time when meeting with these distant relatives would have been a discreet and private affair. All but Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice, were excluded from his wedding ceremony back in 1947 because of raw sensitivities over his sister’s Nazi connections. Three out of four of Prince Philip’s sisters joined Hitler’s party and married princes who were significant Nazis though many members of his family were also persecuted for opposing the Nazi regime.
Prince Donatus spoke of Her Majesty and Philip, “I’m related to both The Queen and Prince Philip, because Prince Philip is a Battenberg. Mountbatten is Battenberg and Battenberg is coming from my family and I’m also related to The Queen through Queen Victoria- she’s my great, great, great grandmother or something like that. Normally I see The Queen in England at Windsor so its lovely to see them here.”
From their lunch at Frankfurt city hall, The Queen and Prince Philip made their way back to Berlin for a Garden Party at the British Ambassador Sir Simon McDonald’s residence. If it wasn’t already a busy day for The Queen, she then proceeded to speak with the hundreds of guests gathered at the British Embassy whilst Prince Philip told one man his tie was “terrible” and admitted to one guest, “I’m sorry I’ve forgotten your name. I forget everyone’s name nowadays.”
The British Embassy in Berlin and the two Consulates-General in Dusseldorf and Munich work together to strengthen the UK-Germany relationship through a wide range of issues including the future of the European Union, climate change and defence and police co-operation. Sir Simon McDonald is the British Ambassador to Germany, a post he has held since 2010.
The Queen and Prince Philip conclude their State Visit to Germany on Friday, a day that is sure to go down in history as the royal couple pay a visit to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, the burial site of wartime diarist, Anne Frank, and the only concentration camp to be liberated by British forces.