The king drove trains, which was an English invention after all. King Charles III and his wife Camilla traveled on Friday with an ICE train from Berlin to Hamburg, the last stop of their visit to Germany.

The remarkable thing: the royal couple did not travel the 290 kilometers in a special train, but in a regular one – there were still a few extras. ICE 804 (“high utilization expected”) departed according to the timetable at 10.38 a.m. from platform 8 of Berlin Central Station. The train coming from Munich was a few minutes late on Thursday morning, but was able to make up for it in the capital.

The red carpet was rolled out for Charles and Camilla at the departure station, and there were increased security measures. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender, who accompanied the British monarch and his wife to Hamburg, welcomed them together with railway boss Richard Lutz at Berlin Central Station before boarding the train.

One and a half first-class cars were reserved there for the delegation, as the news portal T-Online learned from an internal letter from Deutsche Bahn. The royal couple booked the train journey at the beginning of the year and paid for it themselves. According to Deutsche Bahn, the regular price for the connection is 161.40 euros per person, including seat reservation (the king took a seat in car 14 on seat 104). It is not known whether Charles and Camilla took advantage of a saver price.

ICE 804 is driven by the latest series of multiple units, the ICE 4 model. The trains can travel at speeds of up to 250 km/h and are regarded as the showpiece of Deutsche Bahn.

Before leaving Berlin, train spotters noticed that the train had put a special model on the tracks for the royal passengers. The multiple unit with the internal number 9457 was christened “Federal Republic of Germany” two years ago on the occasion of the anniversary “30 years of ICE traffic in Germany”. Instead of the distinctive red stripe, the 374-meter-long high-speed train is adorned with a banderole in black, red and gold.

The Deutsche Bundesbahn used to have special saloon cars for high-ranking politicians. The so-called Chancellor’s train, used by Konrad Adenauer, Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt, among others, was legendary. But the time of luxury trains at Deutsche Bahn is over. Instead, as reported by the “Spiegel” last year, Group Guideline 199, Module 1 (“Travel according to special regulations”) applies to prominent passengers on board. It is therefore intended to ensure that all relevant departments, from the engine driver to the employees in the on-board restaurant to the employees in the signal boxes and control centers, know who is on board and that the train is guided through the country with priority and dedication. “The affected train will be specially tested – air conditioning! – and thoroughly cleaned. If there are even the slightest doubts about its functionality, the train would be replaced quickly before departure, if possible,” wrote the news magazine. The railway justified this extra effort, among other things, with “the special need for protection and security”.

Back on the ICE 804. During the almost two-hour journey, King Charles and Camilla were able to settle into “generous, comfortable seats”, as Deutsche Bahn promises its first-class passengers, as well as “an innovative lighting system dependent on the time of day” and the ” use the latest WLAN and telephony technology”.

However, as the internal railway letter revealed, the royal couple should be given another convenience. Instead of the types of tea (spearmint and Earl Gray blend, from 3.50 euros) available for ordinary travelers in the dining car or at the seat service, Deutsche Bahn “put together a special selection of their favorite teas”.

The train was scheduled to arrive in Hamburg at 12:32 p.m., the train arrived on time at Dammtor station before the ICE continued towards Kiel. In the Hanseatic city there was another extra treatment for the ruler of the United Kingdom and his wife. Because the ICE 804 is scheduled to pass through the Hamburg-Dammtor train station, this Friday it stopped there to allow the delegation to disembark. In front of the south exit of the train station, King Charles and Camilla wanted to visit the “Children’s Transport – The Last Farewell” memorial, which commemorates the rescue of around 1000 children who were considered Jewish from Hamburg to Great Britain during the Nazi era.

At the Dammtor station, too, the red carpet was rolled out for the royal state guests, at least symbolically, nothing special for the magnificent building that opened in 1903: the purpose of the station from the outset was also to serve state visits; it is nicknamed “Kaiserbahnhof”. Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II, also got off here. On the occasion of her first state visit to Germany in 1965, she was received by Hamburg’s Mayor at the time, Paul Nevermann, at the Dammtor.

58 years later, Nevermann’s successor Peter Tschentscher and his wife Eva-Maria greeted their guests at the train station and were then to accompany them to the town hall, among other places, where an entry in the town’s Golden Book was on the agenda. A harbor tour and a visit to a school were to follow later, before the state visit ended in the evening with a reception hosted by the British Embassy.

The Departure of King Charles III. and Camilla from Germany does not take the train, but by plane. Incidentally, the royal family has had its own train in Great Britain since 1842: the “Royal Train” for journeys through the kingdom, which can reach speeds of up to 160 kilometers per hour. The British monarch is considered an enthusiastic train traveler. “A maximum of nine carriages are available to the royal family, including bedrooms, a dining room, private salons and a study. The train is painted in a dark Bordeaux, inside there are simple upholstered chairs, patterned sofas, light carpets,” writes the company that operates the royal train. It has been since 2004: Deutsche Bahn.

Sources: Deutsche Bahn timetable, T-Online, Deutsche Bahn price information, Deutsche Bahn for ICE 4 “Federal Republic of Germany”, “Spiegel”, Office of the Federal President, Hamburg Senate, Deutsche Bahn for “Royal Train”, news agencies DPA and AFP.