King Charles III addressed the German parliament and met with Chancellor Olaf Scholz on the second day of a state visit. Photo by Clemens Bilan/EPA-EFE
March 30 (UPI) -- King Charles III made history Thursday by becoming the first British monarch to address the German parliament on day two of a state visit, his first overseas trip since ascending the throne in September.
Addressing a packed Bundestag the king said he could "hardly begin to express the pride I feel" at relations between Britain and Germany and that he hoped to "renew the pledge of friendship between our nations" which he said had been so important to his mother Queen Elizabeth II.
"Germany is the only country worldwide with whom the United Kingdom has such a joint unit," said Charles who thanked the German people for their "extraordinary kindness" following the death of the queen last September.
In a speech delivered mainly in German, Charles applauded the "vital leadership" the two countries had displayed in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine saying they were standing "in defense of freedom and sovereignty."
He said Russia's "unprovoked invasion" has "inflicted the most unimaginable suffering on so many innocent people."
"The world has watched in horror, but we have not stood by," Charles said. "As Europe's two largest donors to Ukraine, we have responded decisively. We have taken decisions that might previously have seemed unimaginable."
Germany has taken in more than a million Ukrainians fleeing the war and both countries have provided weapons, most recently battle tanks.
The king also lavished praise on the cultural connections between Britain and Germany noting that George Frederic Handel's "Zadok the Priest" will be played at his coronation next month -- as it has been at every coronation for almost 300 years -- and that the world's first Shakespeare association was formed in the central German city of Weimar.
The speech was paused by alternating rounds of applause and laughter from MPs as the king paid homage to the long-shared history of two "old friends."
"We have laughed together -- both at each other and with each other," he said.
But Charles did not sidestep the subject of Europe's dark history of bloody conflict.
"Seventy-five years after the Second World War, it was of great importance to me to stand with Germans in honoring all victims of war and tyranny, and to be the first members of my family to participate in those deeply moving commemorations," he said.
He ended by saying that in the long and remarkable story of the two countries, there were many chapters yet unwritten.
"Let us fill these with the restless pursuit of a better tomorrow," said Charles.
He also met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on the trip Thursday.
After a greeting ceremony with full military honors held beneath the Brandenburg gate on Wednesday, the king attended a state banquet hosted by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, where he pledged to "strengthen the connections" between Britain and Germany.
The king was supposed to visit France first but the trip was postponed at the last minute on Friday due to mass protests and strikes over President Emmanuel Macron's reforms to the country's pensions system.