HomeCELEBSKing Charles III welcomes S. African president for first state visitor

King Charles III welcomes S. African president for first state visitor

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LONDON — King Charles III welcomed South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to the United Kingdom on Tuesday for the first state visit of his reign, featuring all the pomp and ceremony of such an occasion plus a glittery state banquet at Buckingham Palace.

Also on the agenda during the two-day visit are talks with government leaders focused on investment and green energy.

Prince William and Princess Kate of Wales greeted Ramaphosa at his London hotel, then escorted him to the welcome ceremony on Horse Guards Parade near Buckingham Palace, where Ramaphosa met the king and queen.

Afterwards, the king, queen and the president traveled down The Mall in the gold State Carriage to Buckingham Palace, surrounded by scores of flags and mounted troops in colorful uniforms.

The visit was organized before the death of Queen Elizabeth II, a nod to her long-time devotion to the Commonwealth. The last state visit by a South African leader was in 1996, when Nelson Mandela was honored two years after he became South Africa’s first Black president.

Ramaphosa addressed a joint session of the UK Parliament on Tuesday, urging UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to triple the number of South Africans studying in the UK to build business ties.

The State Carriage carrying King Charles III, Queen Consort Camilla and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa makes its way along The Mall towards Buckingham Palace at the start of the president's two-day state visit, Nov.  22, 2022.

He spoke in Parliament’s Royal Gallery, becoming the first South African president to address lawmakers since Mandela in 1996.

“There are few countries that have the depth of experience and knowledge of the South African economy than Britain,” he said. “British companies need to use this advantage to greater effect to seek out opportunities in our country for investment and trade.”

On the agenda are opportunities for British companies to take part in up to 5.4 billion pounds ($6.4 billion) of infrastructure projects over the three years, Britain’s Foreign Office said.

King Charles III, Queen Consort Camilla and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, followed by Prince William and Princess Kate, arrive to view a display of South African items from the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace, Nov.  22, 2022, during the two day state visit to the UK by the South African president.

Britain will also provide funding for technical and vocational education in hopes of spurring the development of green technology and electric car manufacturing in South Africa.

“South Africa is already the UK’s biggest trading partner on the continent, and we have ambitious plans to turbocharge infrastructure investment and economic growth together,” Sunak said before Ramaphosa arrived.

As is typical of a state visit, the palace mounted an exhibit of items and artifacts related to the visiting state. The king and queen and William and Kate escorted Ramaphosa to see some of the South African items in the exhibit from the Royal Collection, including a photograph of President Mandela with the late Queen Elizabeth II.

On Tuesday night, Charles is to preside over his first state banquet as monarch, held in honor of the president at Buckingham Palace. They will be joined by Camilla and other members of the royal family, including William and Kate.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks at the Houses of Parliament during a state visit, in London, Nov.  22, 2022.

On the menu is grilled brill with wild mushrooms, and truffles; a ballotine of Windsor pheasant filled with artichokes, quince compote and port sauce, vegetables and a selection of wines.

South African High Commissioner Jeremiah Nyamane Mamabolo hailed the importance of the state visit after speaking to the king when Charles visited an exhibition of South African fashion a few weeks ago in London.

“The important thing is that the king has focused for his first visit, to be with Africa, South Africa, and the Commonwealth,” Mamabolo said.

Aside from meeting the royals, the South African head of state will also visit Westminster Abbey where he will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and see the memorial stone for Nelson Mandela.

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