After a lenghty accreditation process I finally was told I had accreditation as a journalist for the state visit to Germany of King Charles III and Queen Camilla of the United Kingdom from 29 to 31 March 2023. As Berlin was too far away for me, I had opted only to go to Hamburg on the final day of what turned out to be the first ever state visit of the royal couple, as at the last moment the one to France in the previous days was cancelled. I travelled to Hamburg on 30 March 2023 where I had a hotel in the suburb Harburg. During a walk through Harburg in the evening I even discovered the remains of Harburg Castle, what once must have been a lovely royal castle.
On Friday 31 March 2023 I left the hotel after a bit of work and breakfast. The public transport connections to Hamburg city centre were excellent. One S-Bahn change at the main railway station of Hamburg, and then I arrived at the city hall (Rathaus). The first people had already taken their spots in front of the city hall, but around the time I was there, 9.30am, there was still plenty of space when you wanted to have a good look. The barricades for the public were luckily quite close to the building, so I was sure they would have a good view. Just a pity it had started raining again, which wouldn’t stop until 3pm by the way, just when the visit was nearly over. While picking up my accreditation inside the city hall I couldn’t resist a look – from a side balcony – in the hall, where the red carpet and flags were already in place.
If you think media could arrive at the last minute, you’re wrong. I had to be at the Kindertransport Memorial at the Hamburg Dammtor railway station between 11-12am. And as you never know how many people are going to be in the press area, I decided to be there as quick as I could. It hadn’t been necessary I discovered later, but one never knows. A woman, who had only heard about the royal visit quite shortly beforehand, decided for a quick demonstration against the delivery of weapons to Ukraine. She got some media attention, but the card and pieces of paper with text she had left at the monument, were quite quickly removed when she had gone. I also saw a homeless man with a huge sign around his neck with a request for help.
After a long wait in the rain – happily I had brought an umbrella – the train with the royal couple and the presidential couple arrived nicely in time around 12.25pm. After about five minutes a huge group of people left the railway station, including these couples, other dignitaries and a huge group of British media. Mostly they didn’t have to wait in the press areas but were transported in mini vans so they could follow the royal couple closely. I nevertheless managed to get acquainted to a few familiar people from tv-channels ITV, Channel 5 and CNN, as well as the author Robert Jobson. Unfortunately the British media coming along with the royal couple at first totally blocked our view, until there were some protests from the press area. Still then it was hard to catch a glimpse of what was going on, also because president Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Mrs Elke Büdenbender were standing on our side of the group. I saw the royal couple walking to the public on the side next to the press area, but unfortunately soon didn’t see anything but umbrellas and lots of people blocking everything else.
I was one of the first people taking photos of the white roses that were left at the memorial and then rushed into the railway station to make my way to my second and last venue: Dockland (Fischereihafen). First by S-Bahn (train) and then by bus and on foot I reached the harbour nicely in time. It turned out I had even beaten the German and British media that had come by car, by minutes. Another long wait in the rain, and as we were near the water, it was rather cold also. A nice boat, the Hamburg, was waiting for the royal visit. King Charles III was the first to get out of his car. As I had totally forgotten that Queen Camilla would visit a school I half expected her to get out of the second car, but it was president Frank-Walter Steinmeier instead. My view was luckily quite a bit better at this venue and on my photos it looks as if the King even shortly looked or waved into my direction before getting on the boat for a harbour tour.
I was not quite sure if I would stay until the return of the boat, as I also was going to meet a former colleague in Harburg, but in the end I was glad I didn’t go earlier. During the wait I noticed some people were starting to have their photo taken with the waiting royal Bentley – one of just two made especially for the Golden Jubilee of the late Queen Elizabeth II – so I also took my chance. Just before the boat arrived a car with Queen Camilla and Mrs Elke Büdenbender arrived. A few looks and waves and then the Queen disappeared in the Bentley, despite of the fact that the rain had stopped in the meantime. Shortly afterwards also the boat came back, everyone got out. A photographer managed to let the King and the president shake hands in front of the cameras, which they found pretty amusing I think. Soon the cars drove away and after a short while we were also dismissed. I managed to make my way to the closest S-Bahn station on foot and got back to Harburg to meet my former colleague and her cute little son.
In the evening I received a message from a danish royalty watcher I had not met before. He was on his way to Hamburg, if we could meet the next day. I changed plans to leave early and hop off in Oldenburg. on Saturday morning we met at the main railway station in Hamburg, had tea and cake – leave it to the Germans to sell great cakes. Then we had a look at a flee market, the city hall (Rathaus), where hardly anything reminded of the royal visit on the previous day, and then I headed to the railway station to make my way back home. The weather could have been better, but it was somewhat special to have been a part of the very first state visit of the new King and Queen of the United Kingdom.
Further reports by me:
Report I at Royal Central
Report II at Royal Central
2 thoughts on “The state visit of Charles & Camilla to Germany”
Quite nice to have attended the first state visit by the new King and Queen of England. I guess the effort makes every other post of yours authentic, which is cute. Maybe, I mean not to criticize you but to say that you know the best relation between the King, the President and the press present, both foreign and national. What with these days even a newly launched emoji is advertised, and the new King is playing out to the audiences, God knows when he will have to draw a line like his predecessors.
I don’t post nonsense 🙂
For the media it is mainly work of course, but I had the feeling the German and British media surrounding me were rather interested in this visit. Lots of accredited media, about 800 if I remember correctly. And I noticed that the public didn’t only exist of old people, but also quite a few younger persons and children.