King Charles III and his wife Camilla are currently completing the second day of their state visit to Germany. In addition to visits to the weekly market on Berlin's Wittenbergplatz and to the Bundeswehr in Finowfurt, a visit to a cheese dairy was also on the agenda for the afternoon.
In the eco-village of Brodowin, Charles was making his own cheese together with Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier when a severe storm with lightning, thunder and downpour broke out outside. Charles actually wanted to visit the calf farm on the farm afterwards and pet the animals - this item on the program was omitted. During this time, the king sought protection in the court dairy. “We were basically stuck in the dairy. But that gave us the opportunity to talk a bit with the king, which might not otherwise have been possible," said farm manager Katja von Maltzan.
The king asked very well-founded questions about agriculture and cultivation. "And we talked about cow manure and how good it is for the soil," said Leonie Schierning, assistant to the management. Charles has been known as an advocate of organic farming for decades.
Charles has been known as an advocate of organic farming for decades. During the thunderstorm he stayed in the farm's own dairy, where he poured cheese mixture into a mold and smoothed it out. For the king's visit, the court had come up with a special "Brodowiner Königskäse" that is refined with carrot juice - also to give it the typical orange color of British cheddars. The cheese is said to “bear an emblem in the form of a crown and be tended by hand on a daily basis”.
The visit to Hofs in der Schorfheide, around 80 kilometers north-east of Berlin, is likely to be an affair of the heart for the king. Charles has been a champion of biodynamic farming for decades and is considered by many to be a pioneer in the field. As early as the 1980s, he switched to organic farming on his Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire. A move for which many mocked him at the time. In his after-dinner speech at the state banquet in Bellevue Palace on Wednesday evening, Charles emphasized how much he had learned about biodynamic agriculture during his visits to Germany.
The eco-village Brodowin, which emerged from an agricultural production cooperative (LPG) in 1991, also operates according to the Demeter guidelines. In Brodowin, 150 employees grow vegetables, grain and animal feed on around 2,500 hectares. In addition, 150 dairy cows, 250 dairy goats and 2400 hens are kept on the premises. The products are sold in organic shops - and delivered directly to offices, schools and private individuals as vegetable boxes. The current owner, Ludolf von Maltzan, took over the business in 2006.
At the same time, Charles' wife Camilla visited the Komische Oper in Berlin together with Elke Büdenbender, the wife of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. They were greeted by the director duo Susanne Moser and Philip Bröking. Cardboard figures of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan could be seen in the building opposite when they were greeted in front of the opera.
During the 40-minute visit, Camilla and Büdenbender first had costumes from various productions of the house shown to them. They then informed themselves about the opera project "Jung und Jeder:r" to overcome social barriers. Around 50,000 children and young people with their families visit the Komische Oper every year.
A highlight of the royal visit was the speech given by the British monarch in the Bundestag at noon. Before the king's speech, Bundestag President Bärbel Bas (SPD) formulated a few words of welcome. Then Charles III. to the lectern.
The 74-year-old started in German and thanked right at the beginning for the "great honor" of being able to speak in front of the parliamentarians. He then paid tribute to the numerous German expressions of condolence after the death of his mother Elizabeth II, which he and his family were a "great consolation" in difficult times. Later, when Charles touched on historical stages of German-British friendship, the monarch partly switched to his native language. His speech dealt with numerous current topics such as the environment and economic policy, but also caused a few laughs in the audience.
For example, when Charles pondered the differences in the understanding of humor between the two nations - and alluded to the German love for the New Year's classic "Dinner for One", which was somewhat incomprehensible to the British. The TV sketch has cult status in this country, but is hardly known in Great Britain. There was also laughter when the 74-year-old said about the mutual relationship: "Of course there is also rivalry - I am thinking in particular of the encounters between our football teams."
But there is also a shared cultural heritage. "Younger generations may not only think of Brahms or Byron, but also of the Beatles or Kraftwerk," said the king, referring to the German composer Johannes Brahms and the English poet Lord Byron.
In addition, Charles III praised the extensive German help for the Ukraine in the defensive struggle against Russia. "Germany's decision to provide Ukraine with such great military support is extremely courageous, important and welcome," said the monarch. "Germany and the UK have taken important leadership roles."
At the end of his speech, which lasted almost 25 minutes, Charles thanked him for his attention. In return and as a farewell, there was a standing ovation for the king.
The appearance was previously not without controversy. Left boss Martin Schirdewan criticized the fact that "someone who was literally born with a golden spoon in his mouth" can be written into the family book. Later, however, politicians from the Left Party were also among those deputies who rose from their seats to applaud the monarch after his speech.
In the morning, Charles first signed Berlin's Golden Book, and at 10:39 a.m. he was greeted by Olaf Scholz (SPD) in front of the Chancellery. The chancellor had not attended the state banquet the evening before – in contrast to his predecessor Angela Merkel (CDU).
After the speech in the Bundestag, the state guest visited the arrival center for Ukrainian refugees at the former Tegel Airport together with Federal President Steinmeier. During the visit, which lasted almost an hour, Charles spoke to a refugee family, representatives of aid organizations and helpers on Thursday afternoon. In the arrivals rooms, he also had the procedure for accepting Ukrainians explained to him.
In the late afternoon, the King and Federal President made a detour to Brandenburg, which took them to Finowfurt, north-east of Berlin. There they met the German-British Pioneer Bridge Battalion 130 and were able to see how around 100 soldiers assembled a high-speed floating bridge in just a few minutes. Then a Boxer tank drove across the bridge.
The king, who was accompanied by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Brandenburg's Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD), did not help build it himself, but spoke to soldiers and showed great interest in the appointment, which was almost like a scene from a James Bond film worked.
Charles got into conversation with several soldiers from the Minden (NRW) battalion. According to information from the German Press Agency, he asked them where they came from, what they do, how long they have been there and whether they are active soldiers or reservists. The king had previously said in the Bundestag: "Germany is the only country in the world with which the United Kingdom maintains such a common entity."
The commander of the battalion, Stefan Klein, said: "The discussions he had were very, very lively and great." Then came the action: the soldiers built a floating bridge over the Oder-Havel Canal out of five parts, and the British king climbed it together with Steinmeier and Woidke. The soldiers had already practiced for this in the past few days. The four meter high vehicle Amphibian M3 can be connected to a floating bridge or used as a ferry. According to the Bundeswehr, the battalion, which has existed since 2021, is the only one in NATO with the floating bridge system.
It seemed as if the whole of Finowfurt was following the royal manoeuvre: over 100 people watched from a bridge, cheered briefly and waved flags.
It is Charles' first trip abroad in his new role as king, which he assumed after the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September. Politically, the visit is significant because three years after Britain's exit from the EU, a new chapter in Britain's relations with Europe and Germany is set to begin.