ADDS REMARKS FROM GERMAN PRESIDENT, EDITS THROUGHOUT
BERLIN (AA) - Britain’s King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla arrived in Berlin on Wednesday on their first overseas state visit.
The royal couple was received with military honors by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Budenbender at the capital's landmark Brandenburg Gate.
Hundreds of people lined up at the historic center of the city to watch the ceremony, many of them carrying German and British flags.
Charles shook hands and had short conversations with crowds standing behind the barricades. Many people also took photographs of the rare encounter.
In the evening, Steinmeier hosted a state banquet at Bellevue Palace in honor of the royal guests.
-Steinmeier vows ‘new chapter’
In his speech, Steinmeier underlined the importance of the close ties between the two countries in the face of new challenges in Europe and Russia’s war on Ukraine.
”March 29, 2017 marked the start of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Today, exactly six years later, we are opening a new chapter,” he said.
“No matter what lies ahead, I know that our German-British friendship will remain significant and will remain firm,” he stressed.
The German president underlined that Germany, the UK and their Western partners will continue their support for Ukraine.
”We, the NATO allies, the United Kingdom and the EU stand closer than ever before,” he said.
”Today, Germany and the United Kingdom are the two largest supporters of Ukraine in Europe, also in military terms,” he added.
Steinmeier also noted that on Thursday, they will meet with the German-British Battalion in Brandenburg and visit an arrival center for Ukrainian refugees in Tegel.
The royal visit comes at a time when the UK and the EU are seeking closer ties, three years after Britain's exit from the bloc.
“The state visit of King Charles and his wife Camilla is seen by many as a rapprochement with Europe and Germany after the alienation caused by Brexit,” German public broadcaster ARD reported.
-King Charles to address German parliament
During the three-day visit, King Charles will also meet with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and is scheduled to give a speech to the members of the German parliament on Thursday.
He will be the first British monarch to address the Bundestag. The parliament will suspend its regular session for the special event.
Charles and Camilla will travel to the northern German city of Hamburg on Friday.