Britain, Germany hope visit of Queen will soothe frayed ties


An article in yesterday's Sun incorrectly stated some facts regarding the British royal house. Before becoming the House of Windsor, it was known as the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Also, Kaiser Wilhelm II was Queen Elizabeth's first cousin, once removed, not her great uncle.

The Sun regrets the errors.

BERLIN -- Britain's Queen Elizabeth II flies to Germany today for a four-day state visit that will try to find hope and reconciliation in the smog of tension and suspicion that lies between the two nations.

British-German relations lately have been exceedingly turbulent.

Troubling both nations have been such things as Britain's currency problems, which the British attribute to the German Central Bank; differing levels of support for the Maastricht Treaty on European unity; a German celebration of the creators of the World War II V-2 rockets that bloodied London; and even fears over rising German power in Europe.

Both countries see the queen's visit as potentially soothing.

The British ambassador in Germany, Sir Christopher Mallaby, cheerily told the influential newspaper Die Welt that the queen's visit shows "great visible confirmation that the German-British relationship is warm and productive."

Klaus Kinkel, the German foreign minister, was somewhat less sanguine in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, but he was still upbeat. German-British relations were "indeed disturbed at the moment," he said.

But a good relationship was important not only for both countries but also for Europe, he said.

"This understanding would soon again prevail," he predicted.

Both British and German commentators seem to agree that the symbolic high point of the visit will come Thursday when the queen and her consort, Prince Phillip, attend an ecumenical service of reconciliation at the Church of the Cross in Dresden, a city virtually obliterated by British, Canadian and U.S. bombers in February 1945.

Nearly equally symbolic will be the royal couple's walk through the Brandenburg Gate into East Berlin Wednesday. The queen's passage will mark the first time she has set foot in what was formerly a nation in the Soviet bloc.

Germans always have had a fondness for the British monarchy. The queen was wildly cheered during her first visit here in 1965. She also visited in 1990.

The queen and Prince Philip have many German forbears and, indeed, the House of Windsor was once called the House of Hanover, until World War I. Kaiser Wilhelm II was, in fact, the queen's great-uncle.

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