King Charles to host his first state visit

Pomp and ceremony will greet South African President Cyril Ramaphosa but business with also be high on the agenda

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at Stansted airport in London on Monday. AFP
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King Charles will welcome South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, marking his first time hosting a state visit since his accession to the British throne.

During the record-breaking seven decades on the throne by his mother Queen Elizabeth, King Charles, 74, has played a leading role in many of the recent official visits by the 112 foreign heads of state.

This time he will roll out the traditional pomp and ceremony for the first time in his own reign.

The last state visit hosted by Queen Elizabeth was that of former US president Donald Trump and his wife Melania in 2019.

Mr Ramaphosa and his wife arrived on Monday, but will be officially greeted by King Charles's eldest son and heir Prince William and his wife Kate the following morning at the official start of his two-day trip.

The visit will include a ceremonial welcome from the king and his wife Camilla, the Queen Consort, in a carriage procession along The Mall to Buckingham Palace where a grand banquet will be held in his honour.

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Mr Ramaphosa will also visit Westminster Abbey to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and see the memorial stone for former South African President Nelson Mandela.

He is also due to address politicians in Parliament and meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Business will also be on the agenda during the state visit, with South Africa being the continent’s second largest economy.

The country is already the UK’s biggest trading partner in Africa, with trade worth £10.7 billion ($13 billion) a year.

Unlocking export finance offers significant opportunities for British businesses to invest and trade.

The next phase of the UK-South Africa Infrastructure Partnership will also be launched on Tuesday.

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The initiative supports South Africa’s economic growth through major infrastructure developments and offers increased access to UK companies to projects worth up to £5.37 billion over the next three years.

The UK government will also confirm new grant-funded technical assistance to South Africa to help unlock green hydrogen opportunities and boost skills in the sector.

"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 capitalise on shared opportunities, from trade and tourism and security and defence," Mr Sunak said.

The last state visit to Britain by a South Africa leader was by President Jacob Zuma in 2010, when he was met by then Prince Charles and Camilla at the start of the trip.

Updated: November 22, 2022, 4:50 AM