King’s first state visit casts him in different light to late Queen
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President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort during the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace - Chris Jackson
In an era of "firsts," this would have been one of the most significant for the new king.
"My wife and I are delighted to welcome you to Buckingham Palace," he told the visiting South African President as he took over key diplomatic duties from his mother on the first state visit of his reign.
In a glowing speech to a banquet at Buckingham Palace, where he paid tribute to both the late Queen Elizabeth II and her friendship with Nelson Mandela, he called the evening "extraordinarily moving and special" in celebrating a country that " always been part of my life". .
Thanks to his mother's famous promise to dedicate her life to ministry on her 21st birthday in South Africa, he said it has given her, and now him, "great pleasure" to host a number of his presidents.
Addressing President Ramaphosa, who kept beaming, the King said to him: "During one of my own visits to South Africa in 1997, President Mandela told me he had given my mother a special name - Motlalepula, meaning 'come with rain.' “.
"I have been assured that this was a sign of the special affection President Mandela felt for the Queen... and not a comment on Britain's habit of taking our weather with us."
The King opened his speech with six greetings representing nine languages used in South Africa, including the President's, Venda.
Princess of Wales - Chris Jackson
In a speech urging the UK and South Africa to work together to tackle "some of the greatest challenges of our time", he also moved to acknowledge the dark side of a relationship that "dates back centuries".
"Although there are elements of this story that evoke deep sadness, it's important that we try to understand them," he said.
"As I told Commonwealth leaders earlier this year, we must acknowledge the wrongs that have shaped our past if we are to unleash the power of our common future."
For the royals, the evening was not just a diplomatic duty but a family affair, allowing them to pay visual tribute to those who died.
In a heartfelt reply, Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the new generation of relations between the Royal Family and South Africa, telling the King: "I would like to personally congratulate you on your visionary leadership on environmental issues over many years. Some of your messages over the years [now] sound very prophetic.”
The Queen Consort wore for the first time a sapphire and diamond tiara that once belonged to the late Queen, with a matching necklace and bracelet.
The Princess of Wales, in a white dress by Jenny Packham, wore an Elizabeth II bracelet and earrings from her late mother-in-law, as well as the Lover's Knot tiara she wears regularly.
Earlier in the day, she paid tribute to the former Princess of Wales by pinning the Prince of Wales' feather pendant as a brooch, as Diana did so often while in the role.
The Queen and Princess both wore their family medals, bestowed upon them by Elizabeth II during her reign, pinned to their dresses.
Banquet - PA
The King welcomed 170 guests in the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace for a menu of grilled brill, Windsor pheasant and iced vanilla parfait with caramelized apples and a choice of six wines and port.
More than 1,000 glasses, 100 candles and 23 large flower arrangements from the palace gardens adorned horseshoe-shaped tables with bowls of pears, grapes, dates and pineapples amid small glass vases of red and pink flowers.
The King and Queen Consort made a personal visit to inspect the tables earlier in the evening, with staff still vacuuming the carpet and checking the 18 inch measurement between place settings, an hour before guests arrived.
The banquet was the highlight of the first day of the South African state visit, the first to host the king since he ascended the throne in September.
The focus of the day was on all elements of the tried and tested incoming state visit.
An official salute from the Prince and Princess of Wales, newly elevated to the position to which King Charles was accustomed in his mother's lifetime; the pomp and pomp of the salutation at Horse Guards Parade.
Guards - REUTERS
Later, over the burnished gold of the state carriages, lunch at Buckingham Palace and a tour of items from the Royal Collection Trust associated with South Africa.
The President's visit to Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster ticked the remaining boxes for the state visit diary before the banquet was thrown in his honor.
The timetable was drawn up under Queen Elizabeth II and the new king saw no reason to change it.
But while the arrangements were the same, the impression could not have been more different.
In the days of the late Queen, she was the undisputed solo star of the show. Visiting Presidents approached her with awe, the opportunity to meet the global leader, whom they invariably referred to as a mother or grandmother figure, was always the crowning jewel of their trip to Britain.
When the King and President Ramaphosa greeted each other as friends, they seemed to be on an equal footing.
Both in their seventies, of similar height and wearing coats of the same length, they fell into an easy rhythm and walked in step as they inspected the honor guard on Horse Guards Parade.
Later, they barely stopped to catch their breath as they chatted through the formalities in front of the cameras, with President Ramaphosa's ready laugh mirroring that of the king.
The first day of the visit showcased the royal family's new hierarchy.
Princess of Wales
The Prince and Princess of Wales, wearing a feather pendant worn by previous holders of the title including their late mother-in-law Diana, were dispatched to the Corinthia Hotel, where President Ramaphosa and his entourage were staying after ruling the bedrooms of Buckingham Palace had been during the current renovation.
A formal photograph was followed by a short drive to Horse Guards Parade where the King and Queen Consort were in place on a pedestal under the flags of the UK and South Africa.
There they were greeted with the sight of more than 1,000 soldiers and 230 horses from the Foot Guards of 7th Company The Coldstream Guards, the escort of the Sovereign of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, his mounted band and the Band of the Welsh Guards played music by a Interpretation of the Spandau Ballet Gold up to the national anthems.
Overall quieter affair
If President Donald Trump's 2019 state visit, the last before the Covid-19 pandemic put an end to them in the late Queen's reign, was marred by a muddle over who went where for an inspection of the Guards, the Tuesday an overall quieter affair.
After the ceremony, the King, the Queen consort and President Ramaphosa boarded the Irish State Coach. South Africa's First Lady has not made the trip as she is reportedly recovering from eye surgery.
The Prince and Princess of Wales were greeted in the Australian State Car by Dr. Naledi Pandor, South Africa's Minister for International Relations.
The State Coach - Carl Court/Getty Pool
At Buckingham Palace, the South African visitors had lunch with their royal hosts and lasted a little longer than planned, which is taken as a sign of success.
In the Palace Picture Gallery, the Royal Collection Trust then displayed artifacts showing previous visits between Britain and South Africa, from young Princess Elizabeth's first trip there abroad to the King posing there with the Spice Girls in 1997.
President Ramaphosa took a photograph of the late Queen side by side with Nelson Mandela at the state banquet at the palace in 1996, saying "that beautiful picture" and the King replied: "You were lucky to have known them both."
Among the items were a copy of the late Queen's 21st birthday speech in Cape Town and a handwritten letter from her to Mandela saying "Welcome back" to the Commonwealth.
As the de facto tour guide of a group that included the Waleses, Earl and Countess of Wessex and the South African delegation, the King highlighted a chess set that Mandela presented to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1996, declaring it "quite wonderful".
President of South Africa
First President of South Africa and anti-apartheid activist (1918–2013)
Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand
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