Royals accused of trying to 'smile Brexit away'

  • 20/07/2017
Kate, William and Angela Merkel.
Kate, William and Angela Merkel. Photo credit: Reuters

Prince William and his wife Kate have met German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a tour the media sees as an effort to shore up relations with EU countries before Britain leaves the bloc.

With the British government struggling to show unity as negotiations on leaving the European Union began in earnest this week, the royal couple were in Berlin on Wednesday in what Deutschlandfunk radio called a "charm offensive in times of Brexit".

William, second in line to the British throne, and Kate walked through Berlin's Brandenburg Gate and shook hands with locals who cheered, took photographs and waved the British flag. They lunched with Ms Merkel at her offices.

While the couple and their children - Prince George, who turns four this month, and two-year-old Princess Charlotte - have delighted the crowds in Germany and Poland where they began the two-country tour, one newspaper said they could do little to ease the pain of the divorce with the EU.

"William and Kate supposed to smile Brexit away in Germany," ran the headline in regional newspaper Rheinische Post.

As well as meeting German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the couple visited a charity in eastern Berlin that works with disadvantaged children. They also met survivors of the Holocaust and toured Berlin's Holocaust Memorial.

UK's position ' as good as it was'

Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain's Brexit negotiating position is just as strong as it was before last month's election, when her Conservative Party lost its parliamentary majority.

Ms May called the June election in part to get a mandate for her Brexit plans, but the gamble backfired.

"The UK's negotiating position is as good as it was, precisely because this is not just about the UK's position, it's about the interests of the EU as well," Ms May told LBC Radio on Wednesday when asked whether Britain's position had weakened after the vote.

With her authority diminished, members of Ms May's top team of ministers have begun to air their disagreements in public and earlier this week she was forced to remind them to put on a united front.

Asked if she would sack anyone involved in such leaks to the media in the future, Ms May said: "There is no such thing as an unsackable minister but at the moment the team is together and we are getting on with the job of delivering what we believe the British public want us to do."