A history of relations: Germany and the Queen | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 23.06.2015
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A history of relations: Germany and the Queen

The two nations get along now, but things used to be different: Germans and Britons harbored clichés about each other for a long time. Back in 1965, the Queen was already above it all. Now, she's visiting again.

Jokes always reveal more about a situation than detailed analyses. A typical joke about German-British relations goes like this: An English waiter asked Heinrich Lübke, the second President of post-war West Germany (1959-1969), what he would like to order. "A bloody steak," said Lübke, to which the waiter responded, "With f**king potatoes, sir?"

Now, no one cares whether this incident had really occurred. But Lübke's lack of English language skills and his notorious attempts at expressing himself in English at official functions often invited ridicule and schadenfreude.

Lübke easily became the brunt of British derision: He certainly fit the image of a German to them. The Germans were the Huns, the foolish Fritzes. But there's more to English humor; it can even be German-friendly. As Gary Lineker, formerly one of England's great soccer players, once said in the 1980s, "Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and, at the end, the Germans always win." That couldn't have been truer at the World Cup 2014 in Brazil.

Königin Elisabeth II. Deutschland Besuch 1965

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip during their first visit to Germany in 1965

Surprising closeness

British-German relations can be viewed as special – at the least. But the two have pretty much been best friends for years now. Almost 300,000 Germans permanently live and work on the island and the number is still rising. Year after year, German parents with lofty education ideals send their children to English boarding schools, thus bestowing English boarding school bursars with small fortunes in the form of school fees – just so the adolescents can wear uniforms. No question about it: Great Britain is considered to be hip and London, the global epicenter of hipness and trendiness. And what about the Queen? The Teutonic tribes have always worshipped her.

Germans have succeeded in winning over their neighbors across the English Channel. The Brits have loved Boris "Boom Boom" Becker ever since his Wimbledon triumphs. Nowadays, British soccer fans show their affection for towering German defender Per Mertesacker, who plays at Arsenal, by fondly chanting his vulgar nickname "Big F**king German" during matches. At the 25th anniversary of the fall of Berlin's wall, Simon McDonald, Britain's Ambassador to Germany told Germans, "You're so uncomplicated." Relations were anything but uncomplicated between the two distant relatives after 1945.

Erster Tweet der Königin Elisabeth II.

The Queen's first tweet

"Don't mention the war!"

If World War One had ruined the bond between the two nations – thanks to German mustard gas attacks, which violated the deep-rooted British faith in fairness - Hitler's bombing of Coventry and London drove the final nail in the coffin.

Two decades after D-Day, the British people hated Germany more than any other NATO nation. British publicist Peregrine Worsthorne was noted for saying "The nation simply cannot stand Fritz!"

Basil Fawlty, the main character of the British sitcom "Fawlty Towers" was known for his line, "Don't mention the war". But actually, for a half a century, the opposite held true, as everybody constantly spoke about the war. Well into the 1990s, Britons relished telling inappropriate jokes, such as this one: Why are there trees along the Champs Elysees? So German soldiers can march in the shade.

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