King Charles has made his first state visit since his term as British monarch and welcomed South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to Buckingham Palace.
Charles, 74, introduced traditional pomp and ceremony for the first time as head of state on Tuesday as Britain tries to strengthen ties with its largest trading partner in Africa.
Ramaphosa and his wife were officially welcomed by Charles’ eldest son and heir Prince William and his wife Kate to a hotel in central London to mark the start of his two-day trip, the first state visit to the UK by a world market leader since that of former US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania in 2019.
Arms salutation and a solemn greeting from the king and his wife Camilla, the queen’s wife, followed by a large carriage procession along the mall to Buckingham Palace, where a banquet is later held in honor of the president.
Ramaphosa will visit Westminster Abbey to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and visit the memorial stone for former South African President Nelson Mandela.
He will also address lawmakers in Parliament and meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Trade, investment relations
Britain hopes the visit, which was planned before Queen Elizabeth died in September, will strengthen trade and investment ties between the two nations and show how important ties are with the Commonwealth of Nations, the international organization Charles now heads.
“This is a strengthening of the strong bilateral relationship we have with South Africa, a real opportunity to build on that close working relationship and to discuss some of the issues that affect us all,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told Reuters.
The last state visit to the UK by a South African leader was that of President Jacob Zuma in 2010, when he was received by Charles and Camilla at the start of the trip.