South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has arrived in England for the first state visit since King Charles ascended the throne in September. The King hosted a welcome ceremony for the South African delegation on Tuesday, as Britain seeks to strengthen ties with its largest trading partner in Africa.
King Charles’ eldest son and heir, Prince William, and his wife Kate greeted Ramaphosa and his wife at a central London hotel. The South African President’s two-day visit is also the first state visit by a world leader since the former President of the United States, Donald Trump visited with his wife Melania in 2019.
Gun salutes and a ceremonial welcome from the King and Queen Consort Camilla were part of the ceremonies, which were followed by a grand procession down the Mall to Buckingham Palace and a banquet in his honour. Ramaphosa is also expected to visit Westminster Abbey to see former South African President Nelson Mandela’s memorial stone and to lay a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
He will also address lawmakers in Parliament and meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Britain hopes that the meeting, which was planned before Queen Elizabeth’s death last September, will help strengthen trade and investment ties between the two countries.
The most last state visit to Britain by a South African leader was that of President Jacob Zuma in 2010.