William and Kate greeted the South African president today as he became the first world leader to make a state visit to Britain with Charles as King.
The Prince and Princess of Wales greeted Cyril Ramaphosa on the monarch’s behalf at the Corinthia Hotel this morning, before travelling to the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade.
There, the President shook hands with King and Queen Consort, where they made presentations and the South African national anthem played while the Guard of Honour gave a Royal Salute.
The President, accompanied by Charles, will then inspect the Guard of Honour, found by Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards.
Afterwards, the President will join the King and Queen Consort, as well as William and Kate, for a carriage procession along The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where they will be met by a second Guard of Honour found by 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards.
Following a private lunch at Buckingham Palace, the King will invite Mr Ramaphosa to view an exhibition in the Picture Gallery of items from the Royal Collection relating to South Africa.
In the afternoon, the President will visit Westminster Abbey, where he will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, before taking a tour, which will include the memorial stone for Nelson Mandela, the South African President between 1994 and 1999.
Mr Ramaphosa will then visit the Palace of Westminster, where he will be welcomed by the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Speaker, before delivering an address in the Royal Gallery to MPs and other guests.
In the evening, Charles, Camilla and other members of the Royal Family, will give a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace for the President, who will join the King in making speeches at the start of the meal.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) is greeted by Britain’s King Charles III and Britain’s Camilla, Queen Consort
Charles III has arrived at the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade as he prepares to welcome South African president Cyril Ramaphosa for his first state visit as monarch
Britain’s Prince William, Prince of Wales, (C) and his wife Britain’s Catherine, Princess of Wales, greet South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) at the Corinthia Hotel in London
Camilla, Queen Consort during the State Visit of the President of the Republic of South Africa
The King and The Queen Consort formally welcome The President at the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade
Climate change, trade and Charles’s vision for the Commonwealth are expected to be on the agenda at the meeting.
South Africa is the UK’s biggest trading partner on the continent with trade between both countries worth £10.7billion annually.
However, despite the wealth of pomp and pageantry on display, the visit risks being clouded by events in South Africa, where Ramaphosa risks impeachment for allegedly failing to report a major raid at his luxury farmhouse which saw raiders take £3.4million in cash.
It comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today announced the UK and South Africa will join forces to ‘turbocharge infrastructure investment and economic growth together’.
The next phase of the UK-South Africa Infrastructure Partnership is being launched today, supporting South Africa’s economic growth through major infrastructure developments and offering increased access to UK companies to projects worth up to £5.37 billion over the next three years, said Downing Street.
Mr Sunak said: ‘South Africa is already the UK’s biggest trading partner on the continent, and we have ambitious plans to turbocharge infrastructure investment and economic growth together.
‘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.’
The two-day state visit will see a series of firsts for the royal family who will take part in events over the coming two days as they host their guest Mr Ramaphosa.
South Africa’s High Commissioner, Jeremiah Nyamane Mamabolo, hailed the importance of the state visit after speaking to the King a few weeks ago when Charles visited an exhibition of South African fashion in London.
Mr Mamabolo, who is expected to be among the state banquet guests, said: ‘The important thing is that the King has focused for his first visit, to be with Africa, South Africa, and the Commonwealth.’
Mr Ramaphosa was Jacob Zuma’s deputy in 2014 and gained the presidency in 2018.
But he is currently fighting for his political life and facing calls to resign as the deeply divided ruling party African National Congress (ANC) is to hold a vote on its leadership in December.
A scandal in which Ramaphosa is accused of concealing a multi-million dollar cash theft has piled pressure on him.
He faces an accusation that he failed to report a heist at his luxury cattle farmhouse in which robbers took $4million (£3.4m) in cash and instead organised for the robbers to be kidnapped and bribed into silence.
The president has acknowledged a burglary but denies kidnapping and bribery, saying he reported the break-in to the police.
A panel appointed by South Africa’s parliament is set to determine whether to impeach him.