King Charles is hosting the first state visit of his reign.
The monarch was among senior royals and VIPs who welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa to London on Tuesday. (22.11.22)
His visit was planned before the death of Charles’ mother Queen Elizabeth in September, and he was greeted by more than 1,000 soldiers, 230 horses, seven military bands and two state coaches.
Charles, 74, and Camilla, Queen Consort, 75, stood on the Horse Guards Parade to greet the leader to start his two-day official visit to Britain.
He was also escorted by the Prince and Princess of Wales, marking the first state visit to the UK since President Trump in 2019.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and senior members of his Cabinet, as well as the Lord Mayor of London and the Defence Chiefs of Staff were also in attendance.
Shortly after noon, a procession consisting of President Ramaphosa as well as the Prince and Princess of Wales arrived, and were greeted by a 41-gun salute by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
Mr Ramaphosa’s wife was not able to travel for medical reasons, and he is facing possible impeachment for allegedly failing to report a major raid at his castle farmhouse which saw raiders take £3.4 million in cash.
He is accused of failing to report the heist and instead organised for the robbers to be kidnapped and bribed into silence.
The president has acknowledged a burglary took place but denies kidnapping and bribery and insists he reported the break-in to the police.
A panel appointed by South Africa’s parliament is set to decide whether to impeach him.
After a private lunch with the king, which included the Earl and Countess of Wessex and Duke of Gloucester, Mr Ramaphosa admired objects including a chess set given to Charles by President Nelson Mandela when he visited London in 1996 – the first by a South African head of state.
The king told his guest about the piece, which features two tribes – Zulus and the Ndebele – in place of the traditional black and white pieces: “This is rather wonderful.”
Lieutenant Colonel James Shaw, Brigade Major of the Household Division, who delivered the military ceremonial spectacle for the visit, said afterwards: “The state visit is a historic first – our first state visit for His Majesty the King and the President of South Africa, the first state visit in London since 2019, the first processional state visit on Horse Guards since 2018, and the first for almost everyone on parade.
“A huge amount of work has gone into preparing for the visit and we are very proud to support such an important national occasion.”
A state banquet is tonight being held at Buckingham Palace, which is currently being renovated and cannot accommodate overnight stays.