Queen to host German gala torebuild war-bombed church

2nd November 2004, Comments 0 comments

2 November 2004 , BERLIN - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday began a three-day state visit to Germany highlighted by moves to forge deeper reconciliation over the World War II Anglo-American firebombing of Dresden in 1945. Accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, the Queen arrived at Berlin's Tegel airport in mint-green dress carrying her trademark handbag. The Queen will host a benefit gala to raise money to complete reconstruction of Dresden's Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) - but she is almost

2 November 2004

BERLIN - Britain's Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday began a three-day state visit to Germany highlighted by moves to forge deeper reconciliation over the World War II Anglo-American firebombing of Dresden in 1945.

Accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, the Queen arrived at Berlin's Tegel airport in mint-green dress carrying her trademark handbag.

The Queen will host a benefit gala to raise money to complete reconstruction of Dresden's Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) - but she is almost certain not to make a formal apology for the bombing as has been demanded by some German newspapers.

"This state visit is the occasion to celebrate Anglo-German friendship," said Sir Peter Torry, the British ambassador to Germany.

The other dominant theme is the environment and the Queen will be making a rare foray into day-to-day politics during her Germany trip, says Britain's Observer newspaper.

Worried over what she views as the dramatic effects of climate change, the Queen has asked the British government to lobby the United States to sign and ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, said the Observer.

Seeking to make a royal contribution to the climate change debate, the Queen will on Wednesday open a Berlin conference titled 'Climate Change: Meeting the Challenge Together'.

The conference is one of the largest of its kind held in Europe, says the embassy, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair will address it via a video-link.

Participants aim to hammer out a joint German-British position on environmental issues to be presented at the next Group of Eight (G8) summit of industrial nations to be held in Scotland next year, the embassy said.

But environmentalists are not the only ones taking an interest in the Queen's visit.

Germany's Bild tabloid newspaper reported that due to a protocol faux pas the Queen will dine Tuesday evening in the old Prussian armoury building which was favoured by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

"Queen to dine in Hitler's hall of Heroes," screamed the front page headline of the newspaper.

Hitler used the 18th century baroque Zeughaus (arsenal) - complete with masks of dying warriors carved in stone - to hold receptions of top Nazis, including Hermann Goering and SS chief Heinrich Himmler.

The Nazi leader also used the Zeughaus for speeches attacking Britain during the war, said Bild.

But British embassy officials played down the report.

"You can always find something in the past. This visit prefers to to look to the future," said an embassy spokesman.

Bild's article is the latest polemic to be added to the Queen's trip. During the past week British and German newspapers have been battling over the question of a royal apology for Dresden.

The two day British-American bombing raid on Dresden in February 1945 killed between 25,000 and 40,000 people, many of whom were civilian refugees. More than 80 per cent of the city was destroyed including the Frauenkirche, which was reduced to rubble.

Following the 1989 opening of the Berlin Wall and the 1990 German reunification, private donors raised money for rebuilding the Frauenkirche.

Amongst worldwide donors is the Dresden Trust' led by the Duke of Kent, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth, which financed the replica cross and orb crowning the rebuilt dome as a symbol of British-German reconciliation. The reconstruction of the church started in 1994. The exterior shell was finished in June 2004.

During her visit the Queen hosts a benefit gala in Berlin's Philharmonie along with German President Horst Koehler. Funds raised go to the fund rebuilding of the church interior.

According to the British embassy the hope that the gala will raise a big chunk of the remaining EUR five million needed to complete the project. So far the reconstruction has cost EUR 93 million.

During her visit the Queen will visit British companies based in Germany such as Rolls Royce and is making stops in Potsdam and the western city of Duesseldorf.

Torry underlined that the Royal couple wished to have the "most possible contact with people" during their trip.

DPA

Subject: German news

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