In London, the Queen will not be celebrated until next week. So Berlin was early with the traditional Queen’s Birthday reception at the British residence in Grunewald on Tuesday evening. The highlight is the traditional toast to the Queen before the national anthem, which was pronounced here for the first time by Ambassador Jill Gallard. The toast was not only to the Queen’s 96th birthday, but also to her 70th anniversary of the throne, the platinum anniversary.
After a two-year forced break due to Corona, the joy of seeing each other again was great among the around 700 guests. Some remembered previous royal visits to this garden. Most recently, Elizabeth II was a guest there in 2015. Two years later, their grandson William made the rounds with his wife Kate, and in 2019 they were joined by their son Charles and his wife Camilla.
Guest of honor this time was Greg Hands, UK Secretary of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change. In fluent German he talked about his time in Berlin when he was young, which he spent in Moabit, Kreuzberg and Wedding.
If he is asked today whether the ministerial office is difficult, he answers that it is nothing compared to the job he had at the summer swimming pool in Kreuzberg. That’s how he told it. He also gained his first professional experience at McDonald’s at Bahnhof Zoo and “in a good year” also at KaDeWe.
Ambassador Jill Gallard recalled that the Queen has not honored any other country with more state visits. There were five in all, plus two official visits. The dimension of her reign was also reflected in the number of top politicians she had dealings with over the past 70 years: 14 British prime ministers and 8 German chancellors.
The Queen has always been a big advocate of climate and nature conservation, emphasized Jill Gallard. In her anniversary year, she called on everyone to plant trees with the initiative “The Queen’s Green Canopy”.
Despite all the traditions, this time there were also innovations at the party. As a sign of solidarity, the ambassador invited refugee Ukrainian singers to perform a song from their homeland.
In addition, the winner of the first “Coronation Cake” competition was chosen, which the embassy had initiated based on a similar campaign by Buckingham Palace in cooperation with the “Feinschmecker”. The decision was not easy, emphasized the ambassador. In the end, a cake with plums and port wine cream won.
The winners of the “Ambassador for a Day” competition were also guests, 20 young women who came from eight federal states and accompanied the ambassador to appointments throughout the day and presented their ideas for a fairer world. Linh Anh Hoang came from Leipzig and was very enthusiastic about the day. Does she now want to become an ambassador? Then she smiles diplomatically: “First of all, I want to study law.”
The Queen, said Jill Gallard, is a prime example of an inspiring diplomat because she has done much to build understanding and helped transform occupiers into partners and friends in the decades after the end of World War II. The band from the British Military Academy Sandhurst also played “Berliner Luft”, but a bagpiper, Pimm’s cocktails and “Coronation Chicken” contributed significantly to the original British garden party feeling.