There’s been speculation that Queen Elizabeth’s state visit to Germany this week will be her last major trip. Palace officials dismiss those rumors as “greatly exaggerated” and point to her visit to Malta later this year – although that is not a state visit.
That she isn’t stepping back will be welcome news for Her Majesty’s government. The UK may not be a superpower anymore but does have a head of state who is widely admired, even revered, around the world – and that’s diplomatic gold. And you’ll see this on display in Germany.
State visits are set up by the British government, which says this one has been in the works for two-and-a-half years.
It also comes at a critical moment in UK-German relations. Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the European Union. In order to do that, he needs the support of his German counterpart, Angela Merkel.
Cameron wants to change the way the EU works before the UK has a referendum on staying in the EU, and for that he will need allies inside the EU – especially Germany and Merkel.
No surprise then that Cameron has taken up an invitation to fly in for a state banquet being held in the Queen’s honor Wednesday, where he will also get face time with Merkel. They will meet in an atmosphere of goodwill and understanding that the Queen excels in creating.
Elizabeth II, 89, has German ancestry, as has her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, who also speaks the language, and they will be meeting relatives for lunch in Frankfurt on Thursday.
Germany also has a particular fascination with British royalty, which you can see on magazine front covers in Berlin.
So, if the Queen has a relationship with Germany, Britain has one, too, and that’s the message that will come across. It’s a collaborative atmosphere that works in Cameron’s favor.
The Queen stays well away from politics. We have no idea what her views are about the European Union or pretty much any other subject.
In her 63 years on the throne, Elizabeth has rarely expressed a political view in public. It’s one of the reasons she is so respected as a beacon of stability and continuity.
Her host in Germany, President Joachim Gauck, has a high opinion of the Queen, according to British Ambassador to Germany Simon McDonald. He explains: “She is doing a similar job but has done it much longer and is tackling the job with the energy of someone much younger.”
On Friday, she will finish the trip the site of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where Anne Frank died, which was the only camp liberated by the British.