BERLIN – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath at Germany’s national war memorial and urged remembrance of the suffering of both sides in World War II during a state visit Tuesday that underlined the two countries’ postwar reconciliation.
President Horst Koehler received the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, at a state dinner. The British and German leaders praised their nations’ close relationship and called on their people to look beyond old stereotypes.
“In remembering the appalling suffering of war on both sides, we recognize how precious is the peace we have built in Europe since 1945,” the queen said.
“We owe it to those who built (the) partnership to continue the process into the 21st century: to learn from history and not be obsessed by it; to look beyond the simplistic stereotypes to realize how often we share the same outlook,” she said.
Koehler thanked the queen for her reconciliation efforts and “because you supported the freshly unified Germany.”
The queen earlier received military honors at Charlottenburg palace, the German head of state’s temporary headquarters. She also met with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and a group of German and British teenagers.
Today, she will open a conference on climate change at the British Embassy. The conference’s chairman is Klaus Toepfer, head of the U.N. Environment Program.
She will also attend a gala concert at the Berlin Philharmonic. The proceeds will help restore the Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, in Dresden – devastated by Allied firebombing in 1945.
After meeting Koehler and Schroeder, the queen laid a wreath at Germany’s central memorial for war victims, the Neue Wache, on the central Unter den Linden boulevard. Dedicated in 1993, the memorial includes the ashes of an unknown soldier and an unknown concentration camp victim.
It is the 78-year-old monarch’s fourth state visit to Germany, following trips to West Germany in 1965 and 1978 and the reunited Germany in 1992.