Today’s General-Anzeiger Bonn has an article containing an excerpt from The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee message in which

to your service

is translated as

in Euren Dienst

Now I don’t believe for a moment that Her Majesty would mean to be rude, but at the same time I doubt, for example, that the Bundespräsident would duzen the German Volk – so is this use of Euren rather than Ihren simply underlining the (notional, at least) standing of the monarch as inherently superior to her subjects such that she should address us as inferiors?

  • The translation comes from the dpa (you'll find the same text in almost every newspaper) - maybe the translator just made a mistake? ( Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 9:37

3 Answers 3


It gets a bit more clear why the Generalanzeiger used "Euren" instead of "Ihren":

In diesem besonderen Jahr, in dem ich mich erneut in Euren Dienst stelle, hoffe ich, dass wir alle an die Kraft der Gemeinsamkeit und an die Stärke von Familie, Freundschaft und guter Nachbarschaft erinnert werden

(emphasis by me)

This is supposed to create a notion of familiarity and community. It would be quite odd to use the formal address if you consider the gist of the statement. No, she (that is the German translation) is not saying that the people she is talking to are inferior. To the contrary, the statement puts her on the same level as the common subject.

Note: I'm not sure the Queen would actually want to say this, but Her German translator (i.e. the Generalanzeiger journalist) apparently felt that way.


This stems from an older German meaning and usage. Historically monarchs use that form of address as a majestic form which is different from the sense of two friends at a pub. Here the "Du" (often capitalized as well) would be translated "thou" in English. It's the same usage as in the Bible, "Du sollst nicht töten" ("Thou shalt not kill"). It actually comes across as a somewhat formal usage, but it's pretty much limited to monarchs for any modern application. English has the famous Queen Elizabeth quote, "We are not amused" when referring to herself alone. It's the same kind of majesticized form.


I do not think the translation meant to refer to Du; I guess this should rather be the somewhat dated, but quite respectful 2nd person plural (even when addressing just one person). This is always capitalized. The same form is used in e.g. French (vous vs tu). Historically, the same is used in English (you vs thou < þu).

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