Britain's Charles III will travel to Germany on Wednesday for his first state visit as king, with the trip billed as "an important European gesture" to maintain strong ties after Brexit.
The British Union Jack was flapping alongside the German and European Union flags along Berlin's central Unter den Linden avenue, which leads to the Brandenburg Gate, where Charles will receive a formal welcome.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and German first lady Elke Buedenbender will greet Charles and Queen Consort Camilla with military honours at the landmark, the first time it has provided a backdrop for receiving a state guest.
Dozens of police were milling around the gate in the morning, ahead of the king's arrival.
During his three-day visit, Charles will become the first monarch to address the German parliament, with a speech on Thursday, before travelling to the port city of Hamburg on Friday.
The decision to call on close neighbours first is widely seen as an attempt to build post-Brexit bridges, with Steinmeier calling it "an important European gesture".
The choice of Berlin for Charles's first visit, after a planned trip to Paris was postponed, showed Germany was a "key partner" for Britain as it sought to reset relations with the EU, daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote.
Well-wishers arrived at the Brandenburg Gate hours before the royal couple touched down in hope of getting a glimpse of the royals.
Anja Wieting 50, who works at a clothing store, took days off to drive five hours to Berlin with her daughter Lili, 18, for the spectacle.
"It's the visit of the king in Germany. We want to celebrate it, regardless of how long the queue is," she told AFP, adding that she finds "big ceremonies and state visits by royals great".
"The British royal family garners a lot of interest" in Germany, said Michael Hartmann, a sociology professor at Darmstadt Technical University, noting the bestseller status of the tell-all memoir by Charles's son Prince Harry.
The fascination with the House of Windsor has not dimmed since the death last year of Elizabeth II, Hartmann told AFP.
The late queen first visited Berlin in 1965 when the city was divided between a capitalist West and communist East, a trip that was seen as a key step in post-war reconciliation.
Charles himself has been a regular visitor to Germany, with the British Embassy in Berlin saying that he has been to the country 40 times.
"We will always be friends, partners and associates," the then-Prince of Wales told the Bundestag in 2020 switching between English and German.
Charles's command of German may be a nod to the British royal family's roots in Germany notably through Charles's great-great-great-grandfather Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, queen Victoria's husband.
Following Wednesday's welcome ceremony, Charles and his wife will travel to Steinmeier's Bellevue Palace for a state banquet in the evening.
On Thursday, Charles will speak to Chancellor Olaf Scholz and meet refugees recently arrived from Ukraine.
Steinmeier and the royal couple will then visit a British-German military unit and an organic farm in the surrounding state of Brandenburg.
In Hamburg on Friday, the king, who has for decades pushed an environmental agenda, is due to tour a renewable energy project.
And in what Bild daily has described as a gesture of deep significance, Charles will in Hamburg commemorate victims of 1943 air raids over the city.
The bombings, code named Operation Gomorrah, were carried out by night by the British air force, and by day by US forces.
In Berlin, the royal couple will stay next to the Brandenburg Gate at the Adlon Hotel, which has regularly played hosts to celebrities passing through the capital.
Police are out in force, with about around 1,000 officers deployed on Wednesday and Thursday to ensure security.
Charles was initially supposed to travel to France before heading to Germany, but his trip was postponed in the wake of violent pension reform protests.
The visit was intended to highlight warming Franco-British relations but will now have to wait for another date.
© Agence France-Presse