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King Charles Receives South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa At Start Of State Visit

The King has welcomed South Africa’s president at the start of the first state visit he is hosting as monarch.

King Charles and Camilla, the Queen Consort, formally greeted Cyril Ramaphosa at Horse Guards Parade in London as the two-day trip began.

The president will visit Westminster Abbey before attending a banquet hosted by the King at Buckingham Palace later.

Mr Ramaphosa’s visit comes as South Africa struggles to tackle continuing power blackouts and high unemployment.

It is the first state visit to the UK in more than three years after they were stopped during the Covid pandemic.

The Prince and Princess of Wales met the South African president at his London hotel on Tuesday morning before escorting him to Horse Guards Parade for the ceremonial welcome with the King.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, along with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Home Secretary Suella Braverman, were also at Horse Guards, where the president and King inspected soldiers from the Coldstream Guards.

More than 1,000 soldiers and 230 horses lined up on the parade ground in central London as part of the traditional opening of a state visit.

His Majesty then rode down the Mall with Mr Ramaphosa in a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace.

Mr Ramaphosa, who has been head of government in South Africa since 2018, will follow the tradition of laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, and then address MPs and peers in the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster.

Later, the King will host a white-tie banquet at Buckingham Palace for Mr Ramaphosa where both men will give speeches.

The visit follows the traditional format put in place during the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

BBC southern Africa correspondent Pumza Fihlani says the president is hoping to use the state visit to drum up support for UK investment in South Africa to bolster the country’s economic development and industries.

But his visit comes at a time when Mr Ramaphosa is facing criticism over South African unemployment levels and a return to power outages affecting households, businesses and schools across the country – almost every day for a number of hours at a time.

This month he also said he would “step aside” if charged over an alleged cover up robbery at his private farm, which he denies.

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