Queen Elizabeth asked Germany for expensive gift during 1978 state visit

Request raised eyebrows among bureaucrats, previously confidential archive papers show

Queen Elizabeth in Berlin during the 1978 tour. Getty Images
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During a state visit to Germany in 1978, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II asked for a gift of two expensive horses, weekly Der Spiegel reported Monday.

The Holsteiner and the gray Elizabeth she asked for cost more than any other offering made to a visiting head of state since the end of the Second World War.

The request reportedly raised eyebrows among German bureaucrats at the time.

Germany's-president, Walter Scheel, approved the gift in the interests of good bilateral relations, Der Spiegel reported, quoting previously confidential archive papers.

The papers also noted the late monarch's aperitif preferences — gin and tonic — and dislike of helicopters.

Records showed that the British embassy had concerns about possible protests if the queen visited Dresden during her trip in 1992.

In the end she did attend a church service and was largely welcomed by locals in the city that was flattened by Allied bombing raids during the war, Der Spiegel reported.

Another sensitive issue during the trip was the question of whether the queen would make a speech at the Bundestag.

The queen with horses throughout the years - in pictures

Der Spiegel reported that it was chancellor Helmut Kohl who raised objections, possibly because of his lingering anger at Britain's efforts to block German reunification a few years earlier.

In total, Queen Elizabeth made five state visits to Germany, most recently in 2015, although only files older than 30 years were released.

The report comes days before Elizabeth's son, King Charles III, makes his first state visit to Germany.

The monarch was originally meant to visit France first, but plans for that trip were postponed by anti-government protests in the country.

King Charles's three-day visit to Germany from Wednesday to Friday will include stops in Berlin, Brandenburg and Hamburg as part of a diplomatic outreach effort before his coronation on May 6.

Unlike his mother, King Charles will be allowed to speak before the Bundestag on Thursday.

Britain's royal family has ancestral ties to Germany.

Before changing its name to Windsor due to concerns about anti-German sentiment during the First World War, the family bore the name Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, indicating its German heritage.

Updated: March 30, 2023, 10:57 AM