British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to attend the traditional Matthaie-Mahl or banquet on February 12, 2016 in Hamburg. In the run-up to the EU summit on February 18-19, Mayor Olaf Scholz wished to send a clear signal with his invitation that Britain is and should remain an important EU member. Apart from Cameron and Merkel, around 400 guests from politics, the diplomatic corps, commerce, science, media and culture are expected in the large banquet room of Hamburg’s town hall.
Room for discussions
As honorary guest, Cameron will give an official speech at the traditional Matthaie-Mahl and Chancellor Merkel will also address guests. The meeting offers an opportunity to discuss Cameron’s proposals for reforming European institutions. An intense debate is currently underway in Britain on EU membership. And next year, Britons will vote in a referendum on whether to stay in the bloc.
Privilege for trade
Inviting the prime minster to Hamburg is also an expression of the city’s connection to the kingdom. Hamburg has always been considered a “British city” on the European mainland. For centuries, bilateral relations have been close and intense in cultural, economic and political terms. In 1266, Britain’s King Henry III gave merchants in the Hanseatic city the privilege of doing trade with his kingdom. A few centuries later, places on London’s stock exchange were reserved for Hamburg’s merchants. And the oldest Anglican church in continental Europe, the English Church of St. Thomas à Becket, is situated in Hamburg’s Zeughausmarkt.
The Matthaie-Mahl has been historically documented since 1356 and is thus one of the world’s oldest banquets. One foreign and one German honorary guest each and the Mayor of Hamburg addresses guests.
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More about the history of the Matthaie-Mahl and guests hitherto can be found on