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William: Brexit will not weaken friendship between UK and Germany

Published 23/08/2016

William will attend the gala
William will attend the gala

The Duke of Cambridge has claimed that the "depth" of Britain's friendship with Germany will not change after Brexit.

William, who was speaking at a gala in Dusseldorf alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, said that the relationship with the region and country would not weaken.

"In short, what began 70 years ago as a relationship of necessity between an occupying power and a region in ruin, is today a partnership of genuine friendship and of massive mutual benefit.

"This partnership will continue despite Britain's recent decision to leave the European Union. The depth of our friendship with Germany and with North Rhine-Westphalia will not change."

The Duke, who was speaking at the Tonhalle, added: "Bilaterally and internationally we will continue together to lead efforts to promote prosperity, security and stability in the world."

William was visiting the German city to mark the anniversary of the making of the state which was created by the British military government in 1946 after the Second World War.

"Operation Marriage" merged the regions of North Rhine, part of the largely Catholic Rhineland, and the predominantly Protestant Westphalia.

A close link between Britain and the North Rhine-Westphalia state has endured since, partially thanks to the continued military presence.

It was the first time that the Duke had met Mrs Merkel.

They shook hands on a red carpet to a band playing Let It Go from the film Frozen at the Tonhalle.

Earlier in the day, William met members of the British Forces Germany (BFG) who are stationed in the region.

He watched a BFG military parade with the region's minister, President Hannelore Kraft, who presented the federal state's highest honour - the Fahnenband - to the Brigade.

William revealed that he wished he had served in Germany to a member of the 20th Armoured Brigade.

He told Andy Thorne, deputy chief of staff at the HQ of the BFG who has been stationed in Germany for 10 years, that he "wished" he had been given the opportunity to be based in the country.

Thorne said the Duke commented "I never had the opportunity to serve in Germany" but was sorry not to have done so.

The Duke also posed for a photograph with a young boy who was trying to sneakily take a picture without his father seeing.

Ethan Wicks, 12, had been instructed by his father Captain Ian Wicks, who is based in Germany and was the parade commander, to keep his phone away.

But when the Duke spotted Ethan trying to be subtle, he asked "would you like a proper one?" and posed for a photo.

"It was weird that I didn't ask for the photo and that he asked me," the 12-year-old said.

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