Merkel as a lifeguard. Photographs from her Berlin farewell

Angela Merkel used to be a conservative who opposed gay marriage. Now she’s as cool as a Berlin wall graffiti

In the meantime, her security detail is relegated to her lifeguard position. Photograph: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

German military honors outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel with punk rock sendoff

Her formerly conservative constituency is now home to some of the most liberal cultural traditions in Germany. So when the opposition politicians came to the airport, she found a mix of honour and anger.

Soon enough, Merkel’s security detail was relegated to her lifeguard position. Photograph: Vadim Ghirda/AP

Merkel as a lifeguard. Photograph: Bernat Armangue/AP

Merkel, who was in Berlin to thank the members of the armed forces for their work during two deadly terrorist attacks this year, added a black tie to her uniform and, in keeping with her reputation as a nonconformist, refused to wear her floor-length gown and pinned on a bandana at the base in the Berlin Tempelhof airport.

Crowds welcome Merkel after her acceptance speech. Photograph: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

To her surprise, about 5,000 people had formed the main pedestrian walkway at the airport to greet her and she could barely miss them.

Merkel with her favourite Nazi brown shirt. Photograph: DPA/Corbis

Her favourite Nazi suit. Photograph: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

Merkel didn’t choose to march in the pro-government peace march alongside hardline members of her party, but she remained neutral and kept her quiet stance on the federal government’s military support to Turkey.

Merkel begins farewell tour with raucous Berlin street party Read more

And she hadn’t expected the reaction to her wardrobe. Merkel often takes pride in her uniform, which she inherited from her grandfather and which is as normal for a conservative member of parliament as it is for a television show presenter or pop star.

But what Merkel really wanted to avoid was getting her rock ’n’ roll moment, with locals chanting “Tee wie Tea!” or “Merkel, Merkel”.

Merkel unveiled a statue of the Die Hohe Frau (Cat Cat Lady) character. Photograph: Markus Schreiber/AP

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