A speech by The Queen at the German State Banquet, 2015
Published 24 June 2015
Since 1945 the United Kingdom has determined to number among Germany's very strongest friends in Europe.
Prince Philip and I would like to thank you and Frau Schadt for the warm welcome you have given us at the start of our fifth State Visit to Germany. In the 50 years since our first visit, our countries have lived through many profound changes. I am very glad to record that one of the irreversible changes for the better in my lifetime has been in the relationship between the United Kingdom and Germany.
Mr President, it falls to a Head of State to lead a nation in the marking of anniversaries. Every month this year we commemorate either the centenary of a momentous event in the First World War; the 70th anniversary of a milestone at the end of the Second World War; or, here in Germany, 25 years of reunification following the fall of the wall which divided this city and this nation for so long.
But, tonight, I would also like to cast back rather further in time. Last week in a water-meadow by the River Thames, I attended an event to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. Of course, in common with other events in our remote history, the precise facts of 1215 are disputed. The consequences of the agreement between King John and his barons, however, are not disputed: for the first time we established in England that no man should be above the law and that individuals as well as rulers have rights. Thus began the long, slow and interrupted process of our country's evolution into a democracy.
Tomorrow I shall visit St Paul’s Church, where the first freely-elected legislature in Germany met in 1848. The Frankfurt Parliament turned out to be a false dawn; it took another century and the loss of the most terrible wars in history to set Germany on the path of democracy.
Earlier this year my cousins visited Germany to mark with you, Mr President, more recent and painful anniversaries. The Duke of Kent visited Dresden and The Duke of Gloucester visited Bergen-Belsen. I myself shall visit Bergen-Belsen on Friday. These visits underline the complete reconciliation between our countries.
Germany has reconciled with all her neighbours. I pay tribute to the work of the German statesmen since the Second World War who reinvented Germany and helped to rebuild Europe. I met Chancellor Adenauer at Windsor in 1958. He rejected the idea of a neutral Germany, preferring to anchor Germany in the West. His successors took up the challenge of uniting Germany as a member of all the institutions of Europe and the West.
Since 1945 the United Kingdom has determined to number among Germany's very strongest friends in Europe. In the intervening decades, Britain and Germany have achieved so much by working together. I have every confidence that we will continue to do so in the years ahead.
Since Berlin and Germany were reunited there has been much to celebrate. Today I cruised with you, Mr President, along the Spree. I saw fewer cranes than when I was last here in 2004. But still the most magnificent element of Berlin’s skyline is the Reichstag dome, an enduring reminder of our cultural cooperation. Our work together includes every part of life, from politics to commerce, from industry to every aspect of the arts, in particular, music, museums and education.
We also saw a wonderful example of partnership in education and science during our visit to the Technical University this afternoon. The enthusiasm and interest our students and young people have for each other’s ideas and work is our greatest asset: the next generation is at ease with itself and with contemporaries across Europe in a way that was never the case before.
The United Kingdom has always been closely involved in its continent. Even when our main focus was elsewhere in the world, our people played a key part in Europe. In the nineteenth century in the Russian Empire a Welsh engineer called John Hughes founded a mining town which is now Donetsk in Ukraine. And in the seventeenth century a Scottish publican called Richard Cant moved his family to Pomerania; his son moved further East to Memel and his grandson then moved South to Königsberg, where Richard’s great-grandson, Immanuel Kant, was born.
In our lives, Mr President, we have seen the worst but also the best of our continent. We have witnessed how quickly things can change for the better. But we know that we must work hard to maintain the benefits of the post-war world. We know that division in Europe is dangerous and that we must guard against it in the West as well as in the East of our continent. That remains a common endeavour.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I ask you to rise and drink a toast to the President and the people of Germany.
State banquet in Malta, 23 November 2005
We both retain a deep affection for your country and the outgoing, generous Maltese people who have always offered us the hand of friendship.
State Banquet, President of the People's Republic of China, 8 November 2005
It matters to all of us what kind of country China's people will build.
Norway State Banquet, 25 October 2005
I remember the bonfires along the coastline as we arrived and the enthusiastic welcome we received as guests of your grandfather, King Haakon.
Centenary of Alberta joining Confederation, Alberta Legislature, Canada, 24 May 2005
While all Albertans — and all Canadians — value this history as a colourful account of the past, we also view it as a foundation for our present and future.
Farewell dinner in Alberta, Canada, 24 May 2005
I have so many vivid memories and a tremendous sense of pride in being part of the Canadian family.
Federal lunch in Regina, Saskatchewan, 20 May 2005
I retain a deep affection for this great country and for the people who take such pride in saying "I am Canadian".
Saskatchewan Legislature, Canada, 18 May 2005
My mother once said that this country felt like a "home away from home" for the Queen of Canada. Ladies and gentlemen, six decades later it still does...
First Nations University of Regina, Saskatchew, Canada, 17 May 2005
Bearing the cipher of Queen Victoria as well as my own, this stone is presented to the First Nations University of Canada.
Visit to Jersey to mark the 60th anniversary of Liberation, 9 May 2005
I am pleased that so many people are present today for whom the 9th of May has such a personal significance.
State Banquet, President of Italy, 15 March 2005
We in Britain today are enthusiastic admirers of Italian culture, Italian fashion and Italian food.
State Banquet, President of the Republic of Korea, 1 December 2004
I was struck by the spirit of the Korean people, and their determination to overcome adversity
A speech by The Queen to Parliament in Düsseldorf, 2004
I depart with renewed confidence in the deep friendship between our two countries.
Visit to Potsdam, German State Visit, 3 November 2004
I am pleased that Britain continues to play an active role in promoting Brandenburg's prosperity.
State Banquet held in the Zeughaus, Berlin, Germany, 2 November 2004
Each time I return to Berlin I marvel at the changes.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will pay a State Visit to Germany
State Banquet, Buckingham Palace, President of Poland, 5 May 2004
We both look forward with optimism as partners working closely together for a stronger more effective Europe.
Lunch at the Hotel Matignon, Paris, 6 April 2004
I ask you to join me in a toast to the French Republic, to the President and to the prosperity of its regions and cities.
Visit to Toulouse, State Visit, France, 7 April 2004
It is fitting that my visit to France should end with this impressive example of Franco-British and European co-operation.
Hôtel De Ville in Toulouse, French State Visit, 7 April 2004
Links between Britain and Toulouse have existed over many centuries.
French Senate, State Visit to France, 6 April 2004
Democracy is the most precious gift we have and we can never take it for granted.
Centenary of the Entente Cordiale, State Banquet, Paris, 5 April 2004
Vive la difference, mais vive L'Entente Cordiale.
Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting reception, Nigeria, 3 December 2003
Nigeria has much to be proud of.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will pay a State Visit to France
State Banquet, President of the United States of America, 19 November 2003
We share the confidence - and the courage - to try and make this a more prosperous, a safer, and above all a freer world.
State Visit by the President of the United States of America
A speech by The Queen at the Russian State Banquet, 2003
Russia has established itself as our partner and our friend.
Ottawa, Canada, 13 October 2002
Wherever the future may take us, my admiration and affection for Canada and Canadians everywhere is - and will always remain - clear, strong and sure.
Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver, Canada, 7 October 2002
Je chéris ma place dans la vie du Canada et mon lien avec tous les Canadiens et Canadiennes.
Legislative Assembly in Nunavut, Canada, 4 October 2002
I am proud to be the first member of the Canadian Royal Family to be greeted in Canada's newest territory.
Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane, Australia, 3 March 2002
We have both been struck by both the diversity as well as the dynamism of Australia, and the vigour and humour of Australians everywhere.
Adelaide Festival Hall, Australia, 27 February 2002
Whatever may lie ahead, I declare again here tonight that my admiration, affection and regard for the people of Australia will remain, as it has been over these past fifty...
Maori gathering at Rehua Marae, Christchurch, New Zealand, 25 February 2002
New Zealand is working to improve and strengthen all the various relationships between Maori and the Crown.
State dinner in Wellington, New Zealand, 25 February 2002
It is both a privilege and a pleasure to have served as Queen of New Zealand for these fifty years.