Queen Elizabeth II meets Merkel, gets grand Berlin boat tour

AP News
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Posted: Jun 24, 2015 9:07 AM
Queen Elizabeth II meets Merkel, gets grand Berlin boat tour

BERLIN (AP) — Waving to cheering crowds as she began a three-day state visit to Germany, Queen Elizabeth II met with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday and rode in an open-topped boat along the Spree River in Berlin.

The 89-year-old monarch and her husband, 94-year-old Prince Philip, started their jam-packed day at Berlin's Bellevue Palace, where they were greeted by President Joachim Gauck, Germany's head of state, and his partner, Daniela Schadt, and signed a guest book.

Elizabeth strolled across the grounds with Gauck for a formal greeting by a military honor guard and band that played 'God Save the Queen' as well as the German national anthem.

The four then took a leisurely boat ride along the Spree River, with the royals waving at hundreds of school children who packed bridges along the route, holding British and German flags.

They then met Merkel at the chancellery. In a video on the government's Facebook page, Merkel and Elizabeth chatted in English while walking through the chancellery to a terrace where Merkel pointed out the former course of the Berlin Wall.

"And where the train goes, there, there was the wall ... and I lived in East Germany, just a few hundred meters behind these railways," Merkel told the queen.

In another room, Merkel again expressed a "warm welcome" to the queen and pointed out that her visit coincides with the 70-year anniversary of the end of World War II in 1945.

Earlier, the British royals were met by cheering crowds outside the Hotel Adlon as they climbed inside a Bentley limousine to take them through the city. The iconic luxury British car brand Bentley was taken over by Germany's Volkswagen in 1998.

Thursday will be spent in the financial hub of Frankfurt, with time blocked out for the queen to meet the public in the city's central square.

On Friday, the royal couple plans to meet with residents of Berlin in Pariser Platz before traveling to Lower Saxony for a visit to the former Nazi Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Bergen-Belsen was liberated by the British on April 15, 1945, and Elisabeth plans to visit a memorial there and meet with some survivors and liberators of the camp.