Queen urges unity on eve of summit

Published: Thursday 25th June 2015 by The News Editor

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The Queen has highlighted the need for unity throughout Europe on the eve of a Brussels summit where the Prime Minister will outline his proposed reform of Britain’s EU membership.

Her comment was made at a state banquet in Berlin last night in the presence of German chancellor Angela Merkel and David Cameron who hopes to win the support of foreign leaders at today’s gathering.

The Queen, who is on a four-day state visit to Germany with the Duke of Edinburgh, went on to say that “division in Europe is dangerous”.

As head of state she remains politically neutral but the Queen’s comments may be interpreted by some as the sovereign expressing a view on the EU debate.

The Prime Minister’s proposals for reform will be considered by European leaders at today’s summit and he has indicated he believes changes to the EU’s fundamental treaties will be necessary to meet his demands.

Germany’s president Joachim Gauck went further in his banquet speech and said the EU needed Britain and that it would support a “constructive dialogue” on the reforms Mr Cameron wants.

The Queen told her host, as guests sat down to dinner at the 18th century Bellevue Palace, Mr Gauck’s official Berlin residence: “In our lives, Mr President, we have seen the worst but also the best of our continent. We have witnessed how quickly things can change for the better.

“But we know that we must work hard to maintain the benefits of the post-war world.

“We know that division in Europe is dangerous and that we must guard against it in the West as well as in the East of our continent. That remains a common endeavour.”

The Prime Minister wants to renegotiate Britain’s membership ahead of a referendum by the end of 2017 and although the issue is not on the formal agenda for the Brussels summit he will have an opportunity over dinner tonight to explain to the EU’s 28 national leaders the reforms he is seeking.

The German president told the Queen in his speech: “We know that we need an effective European Union based on a stable foundation of shared values.

“A constructive dialogue on the reforms Britain wants to see is therefore essential. As a good partner, Germany will support this dialogue. For Britain is part of Europe. The European Union needs Britain.”

Meanwhile Sir Alan Reid, the keeper of the Privy Purse, has insisted a briefing on royal accounts was “never intended to be a criticism of Scotland” after it was claimed that the Scottish Government could cut its contribution to the British monarchy if plans for further devolution go ahead.

Sir Alan led a financial briefing earlier this week in which it was claimed that the Royal Family could expect an annual cut of between £1 million and £1.5 million if profits from the Crown Estate in Scotland are retained by the Scottish Parliament rather than the UK Parliament in a year’s time.

But in a statement issued last night he said the briefing was “never intended to be a criticism of Scotland or of the First Minister or to suggest that the First Minister had cast doubt on the continued funding of the monarchy”.

Both the Scottish and UK Governments said they did not expect devolution to have any negative impact on Scotland’s contribution to funding the monarchy.

Later today Frankfurt will welcome the Queen and Duke, who will tour parts of the city visiting St Paul’s Church – which played an important role in the birth of parliamentary democracy in Germany – and have lunch in Romer – the historic city hall.

They will then return to Berlin where they will attend a traditional garden party at the residence of the British ambassador.

Published: Thursday 25th June 2015 by The News Editor

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