Charles III welcomes the South African President as the host of the government’s first state visit

Charles III welcomes the South African President as the host of the government’s first state visit


King Charles III hosts his first state visit as monarch next week, welcoming South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife to Buckingham Palace.

The last state visit to the UK was in June 2019 when Queen Elizabeth II hosted US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania.

Charles is yet to announce where he will be going on his first visit abroad as king, and this was the first invitation he has extended since he succeeded his late mother in September.

The pomp of the major diplomatic event is marred by events in South Africa, where Ramaphosa risks impeachment for allegedly covering up a crime.

Christopher Vandome, senior research fellow at the Chatham House International Affairs Institute in London, said “getting the right tone will be crucial”.

He said London – a former colonial power in South Africa – must avoid giving lectures on Pretoria’s UN voting record in Ukraine while South Africans are still saddened by a lack of Western support during the Covid crisis.

Climate change, trade and Charles’ vision for the Commonwealth are also likely to be high on the agenda, Vandome said.

Most recently, Ramaphosa attended the Queen’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey in London in September.

His state visit comes more than a decade after the last by a South African leader when Jacob Zuma came to the UK in 2010.

Ramaphosa arrives on Monday before a formal program including a state banquet at Buckingham Palace begins on Tuesday.

Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will be in charge of welcoming Ramaphosa and First Lady Tshepo Motsepe, but will also see the visiting couple meet other senior royals.

Heir apparent Prince William and his wife Kate, Princess of Wales will take him to Charles and Camilla for a ceremonial military reception.

Charles’ youngest brother Prince Edward was also recruited to accompany Ramaphosa to London’s Kew Gardens and biomedical research centre.

Also on the agenda is an address to Members of both Houses of Parliament and a meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Downing Street.

– Impeachment Cloud –

Ramaphosa, a protégé of Nelson Mandela – who entertained Charles’ mother by her first name – stood next to the anti-apartheid icon when he got out of prison in 1990.

In a symbolic moment on Tuesday, the South African leader will inspect a memorial stone to Mandela that was placed in Westminster Abbey in 2018 to commemorate his centenary.

After leaving politics to become one of Africa’s wealthiest businessmen, Ramaphosa returned to become Zuma’s deputy in 2014 and won the presidency in 2018.

He is now fighting for his political life and faces calls for his resignation as the deeply divided ruling African National Congress (ANC) party is due to vote on its leadership in December.

A scandal accusing Ramaphosa of covering up a multi-million dollar cash theft is putting him under pressure.

He denies any wrongdoing.

He is accused of failing to report a raid on his luxury cattle ranch home, in which robbers stole $4 million in cash, and instead arranged for the robbers to be kidnapped and bribed to silence them.

The president has admitted a break-in but denies kidnapping and bribery and said he reported the break-in to police.

A body set up by the South African Parliament is to decide whether to initiate impeachment proceedings against him.

The South Africans are also deeply frustrated by the economic situation with an official unemployment rate of 33 percent and constant power cuts.

Amidst the troubles at home, some South Africans have berated Ramaphosa for flying to the UK.

Charles has visited South Africa on several occasions and attended Mandela’s funeral in 2013.

As a 21-year-old princess, his mother from South Africa gave her life in the service of the Commonwealth in a speech.

Since becoming king, Charles has met several African leaders, including Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo.

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