King Charles receives South African president on first state visit as monarch

Cyril Ramaphosa lands at Stansted Airport on Monday

Cyril Ramaphosa is the first foreign leader in three years to travel to the UK for a state visit

The king will later host his first state visit as monarch, welcoming the South African president to the UK.

King Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort, will host a banquet for President Cyril Ramaphosa at Buckingham Palace as part of the two-day trip.

Mr Ramaphosa will also address politicians in a joint session of both chambers of parliament.

It is the first state visit to the UK in more than three years after they were held back during the Covid pandemic.

The Prince and Princess of Wales will first greet the South African president at his London hotel on Tuesday morning and escort him to Horse Guards Parade for the ceremonial welcome with the King.

His Majesty will then drive through the Mall with Mr. Ramaphosa in a procession in carriages to Buckingham Palace.

There, the King will receive the President at a private lunch and show him an exhibition of objects from the Royal Collection related to South Africa.

Mr Ramaphosa, who has been head of government in South Africa since 2018, will follow the tradition of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, then address MPs and colleagues at the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster .

Later, the king will host a sparkling white-tie banquet at Buckingham Palace for President Ramaphosa, where both men will deliver speeches.

The visit follows the traditional format introduced during the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Analysis Box by Sean Coughlan, Royal Correspondent

Analysis Box by Sean Coughlan, Royal Correspondent

This is the diplomatic equivalent of pulling out the fanciest plates and cutlery to impress the visitors.

There will be flags on the Mall, a carriage ride, guards of honor and a banquet at Buckingham Palace.

The tableware for the banquet dates back to George IV – and the motifs, visiting dignitaries, are even older.

Because there’s some serious soft-power intent behind the toasts and tiaras. Trade with South Africa represents 30% of the UK’s total trade with the African continent, worth nearly £11 billion a year.

The king is now also head of the Commonwealth and will want to send a positive message about strengthening relations.

There will also be sensitivity to concerns closer to home, against the backdrop of a deepening cost-of-living crisis. They’ll be red carpets, but with a purpose.

BBC Southern Africa correspondent Pumza Fihlani says the president hopes to use the state visit to rally support for British investment in South Africa to bolster the country’s economic development and industries.

But his visit comes as the head of state is facing criticism over South Africa’s unemployment and a return to blackouts that are hitting households, businesses and schools across the country – for several hours almost every day.

This month he also said he would “step aside” if charged over an alleged cover-up for a robbery at his private farm, which he denies.

On Wednesday, the Earl of Wessex will escort Mr Ramaphosa to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in southwest London.

The South African leader will then visit Downing Street to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak before returning to the palace to bid farewell to the king.

Mr Sunak said: “South Africa is already the UK’s largest trading partner on the continent and we have ambitious plans to jointly boost infrastructure investment and economic growth.

“I look forward to welcoming President Ramaphosa to London this week to discuss how we can deepen the partnership between our two great nations and take advantage of shared opportunities from trade and tourism to security and defense.”

The president will also receive a call from Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer and attend a Guildhall banquet with the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

Reading banner image around the BBC - Blue

Reading banner image around the BBC – Blue

Footer - Blue

Footer – Blue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *