Germans learn to give right royal welcome

Four German contestants have won the chance to meet Queen Elizabeth II when she comes to Berlin next week. On Thursday the British ambassador taught them the dos and don’ts of meeting Her Maj.

Germans learn to give right royal welcome
The contest winners with a photo of the Queen. Photo: DPA

The ladies must curtsy and the men must bow. Straightforward enough, you might think.

But for those who didn’t benefit from an upbringing in the British Isles, a short class before one meets Her Majesty is apparently required.

Ingrid Baitz, one of the four to win a coveted spot offered in a Facebook contest, demonstrated to assembled journalists at the British Embassy in Berlin how she had been taught to curtsy, bowing her knees and sweeping her arm gracefully in front of her.

Martin Lengemann, the only male prize winner, said he was instructed to bow when he is in the royal presence. But he was confident he was up to the task

“I think I can manage it without practising. I’ve met lots of high profile people in my life. I don’t need to be nervous,” he said.

The garden party will be held at the British Embassy in celebration of the Queen’s 89th birthday with around 600 guests expected to be in attendance.

The Queen’s official birthday celebrations are normally held on April 21st but have been pushed back to coincide with her fifth state visit to Germany, which takes place from June 24 to June 26th.

But British ambassador Sir Simon MacDonald conceded he could make no promises that the prize winners would get to speak to Her Majesty.

“They will be among 600 guests at the garden party. We’re crossing our fingers for them and we’ll see to it that they are put in a good position,” he said.

As for himself, Sir Simon suggested that behaving properly in front of the Queen has never been an issue.

“I am born and bred in the United Kingdom with everything which that entails,” he reassured The Local.

'Most global figure of our time'

Speaking to the winners, The Local found itself confronted by a group of Anglophiles delighted at the chance to meet the British head of state.

Petra Pokropp, a teacher from Buxtehude near Hamburg, said she had fallen in love with the UK when she stayed with a family called the Kings as a teenager.

More recently she has kept up a written correspondence with the royal household and has been impressed by their punctual and courteous responses.

“I’m incredibly happy at the chance to finally see the Queen with my own eyes,” she said. “She is part of history, she lived through a war and through political crises and has always adapted. At her age what she is doing is amazing.”

Lengemann, a Berlin-based photographer, said he spent 18 years creating a book of photos of the UK – what he called “a declaration of love in pictures.”

“I went to the UK in the 1970s and fell in love with the culture – the ridiculous food, the men wearing pinstripe suits and bowler hats, the rubbish piled up in the streets and the bus strikes – it was an adventure,” he said.

Dressed head to toe in tweed, Lengemann described the Queen as “the most global figure of our time. She’s more well known than the Pope or the President of the United States.”

But he would not divulge what he planned to talk to her about if given the chance.

“All conversations with the Queen are strictly private. I take this duty extremely seriously,” he said.

Cod save the Queen

As for the garden party itself, the hosts have announced they are keeping things strictly British.

House chef Robert Burgmeier said on Thursday that he didn’t know of any dishes or foods which didn’t agree with Britain’s head of state.

But that hasn't stopped him sticking to the tried and tested.

Fish 'n' chips and puff pastries with tomato chutney are the order of the day.

There will be no shortage of Pimm's either. Fifty litres of the red liquor have already been stocked in the embassy.

But if guests fancy something other than England's favourite summer drink they can always have a glass of champagne – English champagne that is.

No Berliner Currywurst or Turkish Döner on the menu then – unless The Queen should avail herself of one of the plentiful wurst stands on nearby Unter den Linden for a true taste of the Hauptstadt.

As for competition winner Lengemann, he said he “loved the idea” of an all English menu.

“I might not be the biggest fan of English food, but I do love good fish and chips,” he said.

With DPA

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