King Charles honours German World War victims on last day of state visit

Wreaths laid at church destroyed by Allied bombing in 1943

King Charles III, centre, pays his respects at Hamburg's St Nikolai memorial church. AP
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Britain's King Charles III honoured victims of the Second World War's Allied bombing raids in Germany on a sombre final day of his state visit.

The king laid a wreath at a ruined church in Hamburg, in the first such tribute by a British monarch.

In wet conditions, he viewed a memorial to Jewish children who fled to Britain in the 1930s Kindertransport.

The king and Queen Consort Camilla took a train from Berlin to Hamburg early on Friday.

They were accompanied by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Bundenbender.

In final stops, the king toured a planned hydrogen hub by boat that Hamburg hopes to make a centre of European clean energy.

The queen consort would visit a primary school.

The royal couple were due to return to Britain on Friday evening after farewell Beatles music and sea shanties.

At the St Nikolai church in Hamburg, the king paid his respects at a site left in ruins to commemorate the wartime damage.

Bishop Kirsten Fehrs read out the words of the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation - a nod to an English city likewise ravaged by bombing.

Most of the Hamburg church was destroyed by Allied air raids in July 1943 in what was known as Operation Gomorrah.

While German suffering in the Second World War is a delicate subject, the king's visit was seen as a welcome gesture.

The late Queen Elizabeth II was jeered and met with flying eggs when she skirted around a tribute on a visit to Dresden in 1992.

At Hamburg's Dammtor station, the king spoke to well-wishers after seeing the Kindertransport memorial.

He was greeted by Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher before the queen consort laid a white rose on the statue.

Hamburg's centuries-long trading links with Britain were mentioned by the king in his speech to the German parliament on Thursday.

He said he was "looking forward to seeing Hamburg's plans to use hydrogen in its efforts to become a fully sustainable port".

Day three of King Charles III's visit to Germany - in pictures

The visits round off a three-day trip in which the king has been praised for building bridges with Germany.

He followed in the footsteps of five state visits by the late queen, whose 1965 trip to West Germany was seen as a milestone in post-war atonement.

The king scored several firsts including an address to parliament by a monarch and a guard of honour at the Brandenburg Gate.

The British government requested the trip as the UK and Europe look to turn the page after Brexit.

The king originally planned to visit France first, but that part of the trip was postponed amid mass protests against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reforms.

Updated: March 31, 2023, 2:02 PM