Finally, a state visit!

Now many people (including me and the royal couple) have been vaccinated, more and more seems to be possible. And also the royals start coming out of their palaces more often than in the past 16 months. Although we did spot some tiaras over that period, it had been a long time ago since we had seen a state banquet with evening dresses and tiaras. Not surprisingly it was the Dutch Queen Máxima who finally decided to bring real glamour back into the royal world. Let’s hope that soon more will follow her example.

After the Spanish state visit to Andorra, and the Korean state visit to Spain, the state visit of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands to Germany was only the third one of the year. The government plane, with the king as co-pilot, safely flew in at Berlin on 5 July and flew back to the Netherlands on 7 July, after a three-day visit. The visit to Berlin concluded a series of state visits that the Royal Couple has made to Germany since 2013. The royal couple didn’t leave Berlin during these days. They stayed at the famous Hotel Adlon. As corona-measures in Germany are stricter right now than in the Netherlands, masks were worn and everyone tried to keep 1,5 metres distance.

The state visit was actually originally planned to take place between 2 and 4 June 2020. I had been thinking of joining the tour and travel to Berlin, as Germany is a neighbour of the Netherlands. But I didn’t yet want to take the risk when it actually happened. A pity, as I would have loved to see the Humboldt Forum, a partly rebuild of the former royal palace, and that was on the program. My last visit to the city dated from 2011, the previous visit was in 1999, so there would have been a lot to (re)discover. Several places that the royal couple visited, looked pretty familiar too. On the other hand both on day one and day three it rained for quite a while.

Although the state visit took place in an adapted form, that wasn’t too visible. It could only been seen because of the reduced amount of people, the public that were kept on a distance and the masks. As usual the first day of the visit was devoted to meetings with authorities, like an audience at the Bellevue Castle, the residence of the German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the laying of a wreath at the Neue Wache, the usual picture in front of the Brandenburg Gate. And the day ended with a state banquet, where Queen Máxima didn’t only turn up in an evening gown, but also wore a smaller version of the Stuart tiara.

The second day of the state visit was dedicated to the diversity of the relationship between the Netherlands and Germany in the fields of politics, economics, science and culture. They paid an extensive visit to the Bundestag (Parliament), visited the Gropius Bau where they visited a modern art exhibition and talked to designers, the king held a speech at the Bundesrat (federal council) and the couple visited Chancellor Angela Merkel, who within months will leave her job after many years. At the end of the day there was a concert of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at the Concert Hall at the Gendarmenmarkt, with a limited amount of guests. Also here Queen Máxima managed to look excellent. In the meantime a famous Dutch criminal journalist was shot and severely wounded in a shooting in Amsterdam. The royal couple came with a statement late at night and the next morning.

The last hours Berlin as the capital and state took center stage. The royal couple spent them exploring themes like science, volunteering, social cohesion and the position of Berlin in the world. Berlin has declared 2021 the year of science. The royal couple was informed about photonics, nature conservation and art at the Humboldt Forum. The Lunch, with which the visit was officially ended, was themed the Year of the Volunteer in Berlin. After a conversation with the media the couple left Berlin and flew back home. Via social media they thanked for the hospitable reception and said they will continue to cherish their relationship with Germany.

The photos above were taken by my friend Castleholic who happened to be at the Park Herzberge, where the King and Queen spoke with initiators, stakeholders and children about, among other things, nature and environmental education and the history of the park. Thanks for your permission to use them here.

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