The Queen’s Official Birthday Celebration June 2017
As President of the Deutsch-Britisch Society, Nürnberg, I was invited to the Queen’s Official Birthday celebration in the Hilton Park Hotel, Munich on 14th June 2017. The event was hosted by Mr Paul Heardman, British Consul-General, Munich.
The Formal Celebration
Since 1748 Trooping of the Colour has marked the formal celebration of the reigning Sovereign’s Official Birthday. During the reign of Queen Elisabeth II the date is always set by royal proclamation as a Saturday in May or June; individual UK Embassies and Consulates across the world then choose a date close to that Saturday for their Queen’s Official Birthday Celebration.
Some 200 people from various European countries attended the Munich event, and Paul Heardman held the welcoming speech. Three speakers addressed the audience:
Karl-Michael Scheufele, Regierungspresident Schwaben, stressed the importance of the UK marketplace to Germany and the special relationship between the UK and Germany.
Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure in the Welsh Government, stressed the importance of the German marketplace to Wales. Welsh products were on show, including Welsh whiskey.
Sir Sebastian Webb, UK Ambassador to Germany, presented the formal picture of the newest UK government and their approach to the Brexit negotiations where he will be playing a key role.
While business as usual was stressed by the business view from Messrs Scheufele and Skates, Sir Sebastian Webb’s message was that business stability during the Brexit negotiations will result in changes and opportunities in business.
The Informal Celebration
During the two hour event I was able to talk to a number of guests and one fact was evident: Brexit was viewed as just another parameter in business.
A German business consultant I spoke with had built his business around matching UK customers with German producers, and vice-versa. He sees no reason why that requirement should change in the future: Brexit is not going to fundamentally change potential customers’ requirements and hence this consultant’s business prospects will not change.
During a conversation with a marketing executive from Department of Trade and Inward Investment, Welsh Government Office it became clear that business people in Wales view Europe as a vital market for now and the future. Brexit will change business parameters but it will not suddenly make European or UK markets disappear from the sight of their suppliers. In this regard Wales mirrors the view in the whole UK.
The conversation which brought this whole Brexit theme into perspective for me was with a German couple who had recently sent their teenage son to a public (a fee paying) school in the UK. Their son had made his own decision to continue his schooling, through to A levels and perhaps further, in the UK, due to his desire to perfect his English language skills. At no point during our conversation did his parents show any concern about Brexit, they were happy that he was able to control his own destiny in a globalised world.
All the attendees toasted the Queen in a manner that will continue in the future, regardless of Brexit. Germany has a fascination with things Royal UK and that is not going to change. The traditions that the Queen and the Royal Family represent are cornerstones of the UK and one of my objectives is to work to present these traditions to our members.
The event was very representative of the positive image Great Britain’s Royalty projects to the wider world. While the daily Brexit reports talk of upheaval and change, the stability provided by the tradition of British Royalty to British people, both at home and abroad, is one of the key items that many non-British nationals will perhaps not easily understand.
A personal observation
I would contend that the religious control wrested back by Henry VIII was Brexit I. Times have changed since Henry VIII’s reign and the monarchy’s role as ruler of the country has been subsumed to a democratic government. However, the Royal Seal of Assent is still a vital component of British democracy and any reduction in the importance of its democratic role will always be resisted by a majority of the British population.
How post Brexit II Great Britain faces up to the challenges of a globalised world remains to be seen; or perhaps we should just take note of the words of the great philosopher “Anonymous”: “there are no challenges, just opportunities”.