Royal sisters to arrive at Berlin city gate in red-white-and-blue Mini to launch year-long campaign to promote ‘best of British’
Napoleon Bonaparte passed through it, Ronald Reagan held a speech at it and Leonard Bernstein conducted Beethoven’s Ninth in front of it. But on Thursday, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate will break fresh ground, when two British princesses use it as a launchpad for their careers as trade ambassadors for Britain.
Princess Beatrice and her sister, Eugenie, are expected to drive a Mini emblazoned with the union flag from the neoclassical archway to the nearby British embassy on the start of a promotional tour of the “very best” of all things British.
Whether or not their 285-metre journey has the potential to evoke scenes from The Italian Job is yet to be seen. But as an attempt to underline the strengths of German-British relations somewhat strained over Britain’s desire to renegotiate its relationship with the European Union, the princesses’ visit may well be described as timely.
The event has been months in the planning. Among previous candidates to drive the Mini were, the Guardian understands, the foreign ministers of Britain and Germany, William Hague and Guido Westerwelle, who would have stepped into the car and driven off together to underline bilateral co-operation. But perhaps the political developments of recent months put paid to that plan.
With Prince Andrew having stepped down from his role as a global trade ambassador in July 2011 after a series of mishaps and scandals, he is reported to have been seeking to shape a similar representative role for his daughters. Beatrice works at a venture capital firm in London, while Eugenie has yet to find full-time work since graduating from university last year.
British officials thought the Brandenburg Gate date, in a city that attracts young, creative Britons in droves would suit them perfectly.
“They are young, interesting and cool, and this particular event has a young, fashionable flavour,” a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.
The pair, on their first solo overseas visit, being financed by their father, will kick off the event, called the GREAT Britain MINI Tour. The car, which is owned by BMW and combines British design and German technology, will visit all 16 German states over the next year in an effort to promote the best of British culture.
The princesses will fly to Berlin on standard economy tickets and are due to visit the Berlin fashion fair Bread and Butter, where several British streetwear designers will be represented, as well as British IT companies in Germany.
They will also learn about their ancestors on a visit to Hanover, where the family connection goes back to 1714, when Georg Ludwig of Hanover became King George I of Great Britain and Ireland.
While there they will attend the reopening of the royal Herrenhausen Palace. They are also scheduled to meet the half-Scottish leader of the state of Lower Saxony, David McAllister, who is seeking re-election on Sunday.
A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said of the princesses’ engagement: “They were asked by No 10 to do it to support the Great Britain campaign, and were delighted to accept.”