King Charles to host first state visit in Buckingham Palace banquet

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King Charles III will be performing the role of state host for the first time as monarch next week, as he prepares to welcome the President of South Africa to the UK next week. Cyril Ramaphosa will be met with a glittering banquet at Buckingham Palace. The Palace has released the itinerary of Cyril Ramaphosa’s two day visit next week, revealing that Prince William and Kate will both be playing a major role in proceedings – with the Prince of Wales taking on the mantle of heir to the throne. It is the first state visit to be held in the UK for more than three years due to the Covid pandemic, with the last being then-US president Donald Trump in 2019. It is also the first to take place since the death of the late Queen in September.

The president will be greeted by the Prince and Princess of Wales at his London hotel on behalf of the King on Tuesday morning.

They will then travel together to Horse Guards Parade for a ceremonial welcome with Charles, before joining the carriage procession back to the palace. 

A white tie banquet will be held on Tuesday evening, with Kate and Camilla both appearing in tiaras. Speeches will be made by the King, and by the president. 

This sequence follows the format traditionally adopted during the reign of the late Queen.

 

On his return from Horse Guards, the King will host the president at a private lunch at the Palace, and then invite him to view an exhibition in the Picture Gallery of items from the Royal Collection relating to South Africa.

As part of tradition, Mr Ramaphosa will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey, and also visit the Palace of Westminster. There, he will give an address in the Royal Gallery to politicians, before the evening state banquet.

On Wednesday, the Earl of Wessex will escort the South African leader to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.

The King this week asked Parliament to add his youngest brother Edward – and sister the Princess Royal – as an extra Counsellor of State so he can deputise for the monarch if need be.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be next to receive a visit from Mr Ramaphosa, who will meet him in Downing Street before heading back to the Palace to bid farewell to the King. 

He will receive a call by the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, and on Wednesday evening attend a Guildhall banquet with the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

In 2014, William and Kate greeted the President of Singapore Tony Tan Keng Yam on behalf of the Queen and joined the Horse Guards Parade ceremonial welcome.

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However, traditionally, this duty usually fell to Charles, in his role at the time of Prince of Wales. The Prince and Princess of Wales have attended several state banquets. 

Poignantly, next week’s visit was already in the early stages of planning before the Queen died.

Mr Ramaphosa is currently faced with accusations of money laundering that threaten his position. 

The president has denied the accusations, which include illegally holding around four million dollars in cash at his game ranch in northern South Africa and covering up its theft in an attempt to hide the existence of the money.

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