South Africa marks the first State Visit for King Charles

He was joined by the wider Royal Family to welcome the President

Today marked the first State Visit of King Charles III’s reign. The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, visited the UK for a two-day visit.

The visit started in the hands of The Prince and Princess of Wales, where the couple greeted the President at the Corinthia Hotel, a stone’s throw away from Whitehall.

The royal couple then escorted the President to Horse Guards Parade for the Ceremonial Welcome.

The Prince and Princess of Wales and the President of South Africa. (Royal Family)

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The Princess was seen wearing Prince of Wales’ Feather Brooch. The piece was made as a wedding gift for Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863 – future Queen Alexandra, consort to Edward VII. The design was inspired the Prince of Wales’ badge, which features three feathers coming out of a crown.

The Princess of Wales wearing the Prince of wales feather brooch to greet President Ramaphosa on behalf of The King, at the Corinthia Hotel.

The brooch has been passed down in the Royal Family to be worn by the Princess of Wales. Catherine’s late mother in law also wore the piece, as a necklace.

At Horse Guards Parade, The King and The Queen Consort warmly welcomed The President at the Royal Pavilion, decorated with the British and South African flags. The South African National Anthem was played.

The President of the Republic of South Africa, The King, The Queen Consort, The Prince and Princess of Wales (MOD)

William and Kate joined Charles and Camila for the State Visit, welcoming the President of South Africa (MOD)

National figures from Westminster also joined the formal welcome including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who The King only appointed a few weeks ago. Senior members of the UK cabinet including Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Home Secretary Suella Braverman were also in attendance.

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The Guard of Honour gave a Royal Salute before being inspected by the President and His Majesty. The President inspected two lines of Foot Guards from Number 7 Company The Coldstream Guards – one of the senior regiments in the British Army – making up the Guard of Honour.

Lieutenant Colonel James Shaw, Brigade Major of Headquarters Household Division, who delivered the military ceremonial spectacle, said: ‘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.

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‘A huge amount of work has gone into preparing for the visit and we are very proud to support such an important national occasion.’

The President and members of the Royal family then travelled along The Mall to Buckingham Palace in carriages pulled by horses from the Royal Mews.

More than 1,000 soldiers, over 230 horses, seven military bands and two state coaches took part in the event.

The State Carriage carrying The King and Queen Consort and President Ramaphosa were led by a mounted division of the Coldstream Guards makes its way along The Mall.

The first coach was built in Dublin in 1851, as a speculative venture, but was so admired by Queen Victoria after she saw it at the Great Exhibition that she bought it and used it as her state vehicle of choice.

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The State Carriages for the South African visit approach Buckingham Palace. (MOD)

The Prince and Princess of Wales travelled in a second carriage.

In the afternoon, the President viewed an exhibition in the Picture Gallery of items from the Royal Collection relating to South Africa.

The items on display included:

– A photograph of the then-Princess Elizabeth giving her speech on her 21st birthday during King George VI’s State Visit to the country
– A basket, given to the Queen Mother in 2001, which retreats Zulu patterns in a new material.
– A bowl given to the late Queen during her State Visit to the country in 2010.
– A log book of HMS Euryalus which Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Alfred, kept whilst he travelled on the first royal visit to South Africa. The book also featured his pen sketches of Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope.
– A bowl given to the late Duke of Edinburgh to mark his attendance of Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as president in 1994.

When the President picked up a photograph of the late Queen with former president Mr Mandela during a 1996 Buckingham Palace state banquet, he said: ‘This lovely picture,’ and he agreed when The King replied ‘You were lucky to have known both.’

A picture of the then-Prince of Wales with President Mandela and the Spice Girls in South Africa in 1997 also caught the President’s eye, where he commented with delight ‘Ah, there you are’.

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The Queen Consort, The Prince and Princess of Wales, The Earl and Countess of Wessex and The Duke of Gloucester were in attendance during the exhibition this afternoon.

The President also visited the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, at Westminster Abbey, as is tradition for incoming Heads of State.
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