The first state visit of King Charles III’s reign gets underway today as the new monarch welcomes South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. The President is in the UK for a two day visit.
Mr Ramaphosa landed at London Stansted Airport last night (November 21) ahead of his visit. Highlights of the visit will include the President laying a wreath on the tomb of the unknown warrior, delivering an address to members of the houses of parliament, and a meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The new King welcomes Mr Ramaphosa in what will be the first of many planned state visits.
Full information of the President’s tour has been released by Buckingham Palace and the Royal Family.
On November 22 the President will be greeted by the Prince and Princess of Wales on behalf of The King, at the Corinthia Hotel before they travel together to Horse Guards Parade for the Ceremonial Welcome ceremony. The King and The Queen Consort will formally welcome The President at the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade. The Guard of Honour will give a Royal Salute before being inspected by the President, and the South African National Anthem will be played.
The President and members of the Royal family will travel along The Mall to Buckingham Palace. In the afternoon, the President will view an exhibition in the Picture Gallery of items from the Royal Collection relating to South Africa.
The President will later visit Westminster Abbey, where he will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and take a tour of the Abbey, which will include the memorial stone for Nelson Mandela, who served as President of South Africa between 1994 and 1999.
At the Palace of Westminster, The President will be welcomed by the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Speaker. The President will deliver an Address in the Royal Gallery to Members of Houses of Parliament and other guests.
In the evening the King, accompanied by the Queen Consort and Members of the Royal Family, will hold a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace for the President. His Majesty and the President will both make speeches at the start of the banquet.
On November 23 the President, accompanied by The Earl of Wessex, will visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. South Africa is one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth, and this visit and the state trip in general will focus on the longstanding scientific and conservation partnerships between South Africa and the UK.
The President and The Earl will see some of the South African plants growing at Kew Gardens, including the national flower, the King Protea. The visit will celebrate the next phase of the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership with the South African National Biodiversity Institute.
The President and The Earl of Wessex will then visit the Francis Crick Institute, a biomedical research centre that works across academia, medicine and industry to understand the biology behind health and disease. The Institute collaborates on projects with the University of KwaZulu- Natal, and the President and the Earl will view technology used across Africa to diagnose infections, including Covid-19, before meeting South African scientists and students.
Following this trip, President Ramaphosa will travel to No. 10 Downing Street for a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. In the afternoon, the President will visit the UK-South Africa Business Forum at Lancaster House, accompanied by the Secretary of State for the Department of International Trade, the Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch MP.
The forum will focus on investment, infrastructure and innovation, and will celebrate the social, environmental and growth impact that trade between the two countries brings.
The President will return to Buckingham Palace to formally bid farewell to the King. The President will then receive a call by the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer MP, at the Corinthia Hotel.
In the evening the President, joined by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, will attend a Banquet at the Guildhall given by the Lord Mayor and City of London Corporation. The Lord Mayor and the President will both make speeches at the end of the banquet.
This will conclude the two day trip by the South African President. King Charles III will likely make his first state visit abroad next year.