However late it may be, I hereby give you my translation of the speech HRH Crown Prince Frederik gave in German at the Matthiae Mahl:
SPEECH OF HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS CROWN PRINCE FREDERIK OF DENMARK, GIVEN AT THE MATTHIAE-MAHL, HAMBURG CITY HALL, FEBRUARY 17, 2006.
It is an immense joy for the Crown Princess and me to be present tonight in order to take part in the very traditional "Matthiae-Mahlzeit" in this beautiful City Hall.
I have come to know that the "Matthiae-Mahlzeit" first took place in 1356. 2006 is thus a jubilee. This traditions has now existed for 650 years. The joint history of Hamburg and Denmark is however far older. Such time lines, surviving for centuries, are a statement of the continuity and stability of our part of the world.
The history of Denmark and Hamburg has been interweaved for more than a thousand years. That such a long partnership is of great importance to both partners, is implied. Here, I think not only of the historical and political relations, but also of the mercantile and cultural connections. Denmark is Hamburg's nearest foreign country, and Hamburg is Denmark's nearest metropolis. Both lie by the water, the water that means so much to us, and which we must protect.
The first time Hamburg played a serious role for Denmark, it drew considerable consequences in its wake. From here, from Hamburg, Denmark was christianised, almost 1200 years ago by Ansgar, the "Apostle of the North". Soon hereafter it was the Danes who came to Hamburg, however with a quite more destructive purpose. In 845 AD, a couple of decade after Ansgar, Danish Vikings destroyed the city - I regret!
Simultaneously with these significant events, a lively communication on daily basis took place. And it is primarily this daily, peaceful exchange over the centuries which has marked our partnership. I am here thinking of the vital connections of commerce, of the shipping companies and of the cultural contacts, of the exchange of artists and scientists and of the tourism of our time.
The fortunate geographical location of Denmark and Hamburg makes both our countries the "Gate to the Baltic Sea". After the Fall of the Wall, we have been able to follow a series of initiatives which were dedicated to the cooperation and development in the Baltic Sea region.
Denmark as well as Hamburg enjoy a good reputation as trading centres, favoured by our geographical location from which the world markets can best be reached. For twelve centuries we were important stations in the trade east-west and north-south. And in the middle lay the largest centre of trade of Medieval Northern Europe: Haithabu. The archaeological excavations in Haithabu have shown that all communities met each other here. And thanks to the easy access to the oceans, the entire world was reachable to us.
In the following centuries, new cities, who took over the role of Haithabu as mediator of seafaring, trade and culture, emerged: the Hanseatic towns. At times cooperating, at times in competition with Denmark. Yet the collaboration as well as the competition promote, as you know, the development.
Gradually, Hamburg became the most important Hanseanic town. And the trade with Denmark grew - especially after we became direct neighbours. Altona, now a part of Hamburg, was for three hundred years, until 1864, the southernmost town of the kingdom. Even today we can admire the villas that C. F. Hansen erected in Altona and along the Elbe.
In these three hundred years of the direct neighbourhood, a lively cultural exchange also prevailed. In these times, the creation of a baptismal font, which is still used for christenings in the Danish Royal House, was finished by goldsmiths from Hamburg. The font in which our son, Prince Christian, was also christened not long ago.
The poet from Hamburg, Klopstock, lived for a longer period of time in Copenhagen, and throughout his life received financial support from the Danish king. Another man from Hamburg, Friedrich Kuhlau, spent his entire adult life in Denmark. Among other works, he composed the music of the Danish Royal Hymn.
In the subsequent decades, the most famous Danish guest in Hamburg was Hans Christian Andersen. In the course of his life, he visited Hamburg no less than 25 times. It truly pleased us Danes to see how much Germany - including Hamburg- has celebrated the Danish writer of fairy tales in the past year.
The Crown Princess and I were convinced that the cultural exchange with Denmark is taken seriously, also today, in Hamburg, during our visit to the Hamburger Kunsthalle. The numerous displays which have over the years incorporated Danish art, evoked our admiration.
Most important to the economic development in our region was certainly the free harbour which emerged in Altona, more than two hundred years before the free harbour of Hamburg. Merchants and shipowners from Hamburg diligently used the favourable customs of Altona in the 19th century, and because of this, they let many of their ships sail under the Danish flag.
The sea divides and the sea joins together. However, the sea bears in itself resources, and ”healthy seas” are urgently required for the ecological system.
The life in the seas is threatened. It is our duty to protect it - and particularly for us who, for centuries, have had the sea to thank for a great part of our prosperity.
Today, during a visit in the centre for marine and atmospheric science, I was able to attain insight of how this obligation is taken seriously on the highest, scientific level. In connection herewith, I would very much like to tell you about a Danish initiative which points in the same direction; a marine laboratory at sea, which carries the name the Galathea Expedition. Not long time ago, I received with joy the request to be patron of this expedition - a circumnavigation of the globe which will commence in half a year. A Danish ship carrying scientists and the most modern technology, will circumnavigate the globe in eight months in order to arrive in Copenhagen again in April 2007. Hopefully, it will then carry on board scientific knowledge, which will lead to a better understanding of, among other things, how to preserve the unique life that is in our surrounding seas.
In the name of the Crown Princess and myself, I would like to express to you, Mr. Mayor, yet another time, my joy of being invited to this event. Thank you very much!