UK: South African president Ramaphosa makes first state visit during King Charles III’ reign

King Charles III is in the midst of hosting his first state visit since becoming the British monarch by welcoming South African president Cyril Ramaphosa to Buckingham Palace where the former hailed the cultural and trade ties between the two countries while the latter spoke about the strong friendship between the late Queen Elizabeth and Nelson Mandela. 

Speaking at a banquet in Buckingham Palace hosted in honour of the president’s visit, Charles said, “South Africa, like the Commonwealth, has always been a part of my life. My mother often recalled her visit in 1947, the year before I was born, when, from Cape Town on Her 21st birthday, she pledged her life to the service of the people of the Commonwealth.” 

The monarch also went on to acknowledge the country’s legacy of colonialism and said, “We must acknowledge the wrongs which have shaped our past if we are to unlock the power of our common future.” In response, Ramaphosa spoke about the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Mandela who corresponded over many years before he passed away in 2013. 

The event was also attended by the Queen Consort, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. During his visit, the South African president also addressed the UK parliament and spoke to the lawmakers about the close ties between the two countries in the context of the difficult legacy of colonialism and apartheid.

On Wednesday, Ramaphosa will also meet the UK PM at Downing Street and said that he would discuss allowing more South African students to study in Britain as well as his country’s energy market which is battling power shortages and how that could potentially provide a new market for the companies in the UK. 

Notably, the last state visit of a South African leader to the UK was over a decade ago by President Jacob Zuma. During his two-day visit, which was previously delayed due to Covid, Ramaphosa is also scheduled to visit Westminster Abbey and lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and see a memorial of former South African President Nelson Mandela.

(With inputs from agencies)  

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