Posted on November 25, 2022

Charles Uses First Speech to a Foreign Leader as King to Signal His Monarchy Will Tackle the Legacy of Colonialism

Rebecca English and Matthew Lodge, Daily Mail, November 23, 2022

King Charles has used his first major speech to a foreign leader on the throne to signal his monarchy will tackle the legacy of colonialism.

In remarks made before South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, the new monarch said aspects of the relationship between the two countries ‘provoked profound sorrow’, but called for future cooperation.

It comes as His Majesty continues his push to keep the Commonwealth together, amid growing calls in some of its member nations to ditch the monarchy for good.

Last year the then-prince denounced the ‘appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history’ in a speech given in Barbados as it broke ties from the Royal Family and became a republic.

And earlier this year he expressed his sadness about the UK’s role in the slave trade, telling Commonwealth leaders: ‘I cannot describe the depths of my personal sorrow at the suffering of so many as I continue to deepen my own understanding of slavery’s enduring impact.’

In his latest remarks, made last night at Buckingham Palace, the King said he remained committed to ensuring Britain acknowledges ‘the wrongs which have shaped our past’.

He made the speech at a state banquet which had been held to mark the two-day state visit by President Ramaphosa and the South African delegation.

Members of the South African contingent were met by the likes of the King and Queen Consort, as well as the Prince and Princess of Wales, who charmed those in attendance.

A total of 163 people, including senior politicians from both countries were present for an opulent banquet as the Palace pulled out all the stops in the first state visit of the King’s reign.

In a speech before the banquet began, the King addressed head on the issue of Britain’s colonial history with South Africa, aspects of which ‘provoked profound sorrow’.

He said: ‘While there are elements of that history which provoke profound sorrow, it is essential that we seek to understand them. As I said to Commonwealth leaders earlier this year, we must acknowledge the wrongs which have shaped our past if we are to unlock the power of our common future.’

President Ramaphosa, who was sat beside him at the head table, gently nodded at his words.

The monarch also told his guests that ‘South Africa, like the Commonwealth, has always been a part of my life’.

The King told the room: ‘The late Queen had the great pleasure of hosting Presidents Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma for State Visits to the United Kingdom, at all of which I was present.

‘On each of those occasions, she expressed her admiration for your country and its people, its vibrancy, natural beauty and diversity.

‘And she always talked warmly of her return to your country in 1995, as the guest of President Mandela, after the momentous events – driven from within South Africa and supported by so many around the world, including here in the United Kingdom – that brought democracy to your country.

He left the audience laughing when he remarked: ‘During one of my own visits to South Africa, in 1997, President Mandela told me that he had conferred on my mother a special name – Motlalepula, meaning “to come with rain”.

‘I have been reassured that this was a mark of the particular affection President Mandela felt for the Queen… rather than a remark on the British habit of taking our weather with us!’

Earlier he had opened with the word ‘welcome’ in several of the main languages of South Africa which left the President delightedly saying ‘wow’ openly.

The king concluded with a rousing: ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’.

The speech seems to suggest a continuation of the conciliatory the King struck while he was heir to the throne, as anger bubbles away at the UK’s role in the slave trade.

In 2021 the Caribbean nation of Barbados became a republic after a referendum on removing the Queen as head of state.

In a speech given when it became a republic in November 2021, the then-Prince Charles said: ‘From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.’

In recent tours of the Caribbean members of the Royal Family have tried to strike a similar tone in a bid to stop burgeoning republican movements in the likes of Jamaica, Grenada and Belize.

Last night the Princess of Wales played a key role in smoothing any frayed edges, with the King’s daughter-in-law seen beaming as she entertained President Ramaphosa at the banquet.

Kate Middleton wowed in a stunning white dress and donned the sparkling Lover’s Knot Tiara – an item that had been a favourite of Diana – as the Royal Family welcomed a delegation from the African nation.

There were smiles all round as the King and Camilla, Queen Consort, greeted Mr Ramaphosa, at the palace yesterday evening ahead of an opulent banquet which was also attended by the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and senior politicians from both countries.

Mr Ramaphosa, whose visit was in the planning before the Queen Elizabeth II’s death, was greeted by more than 1,000 soldiers, 230 horses, seven military bands and two state coaches on Tuesday.

Later he was an honoured guest at a State Banquet held by the King, Queen Consort and other members of the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace.

As members of the Royal Family arrived at the Palace last night, all eyes were drawn to the Princess of Wales, who stunned onlookers with her dazzling outfit topped off with Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara.

The sparkling number once belonged to Princess Diana and it is now perhaps Kate’s most favoured piece of royal jewellery.

The tiara was made by Royal jeweller Garrard in 1914 to Queen Mary’s personal design, from pearls and diamonds already in her family’s possession.

It was a copy of one owned by her grandmother, Princess Augusta of Hesse, who married the first Duke of Cambridge, seventh son of King George III, in 1818.

In her will, Queen Mary left the tiara to the Queen who wore it frequently, including at an evening event in 1955.

In 1981 she gave it as a wedding present to Prince William’s mother, Diana, who wore it for the first time at the state opening of parliament that November. Diana also wore the tiara in 1985 on an official visit to Washington with Prince Charles.

And since her death the glistening headpiece has been worn by the Princess of Wales; in October 2018, Kate wore the tiara to a state banquet along with a silvery blue taffeta gown by one of her go-to designers, Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.

She teamed it with Princess Diana’s Collingwood pearl earrings and Queen Alexandra of Denmark’s wedding gift necklace, which was a favourite of the Queen Mother’s.

The Queen Mother wore the diamond and pearl sparkler on her 85th birthday in 1985 and during a formal appearance in 1964.

Camilla, the Queen Consort, was spotted wearing the George VI Sapphire Tiara, which used to belong to the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Female members of the Firm were seen sporting the Royal Family Order, a brooch showing a portrait of the late monarch on a yellow ribbon which is worn at all state banquets.


Earlier today Charles III laid on a Guard of Honour for the South African president before joining him in a golden carriage ride to Buckingham Palace as he held his first state visit as King.

William and Kate were part of events for the first time, travelling to a luxury hotel in central London to meet Cyril Ramaphosa and accompany him to Horse Guards Parade for the start of the ceremonial welcome.

There, the monarch and Queen Consort shook hands with the president at the Royal Pavilion ahead of a glamorous state banquet at the Palace last night.

The South African national anthem played shortly after Mr Ramaphosa’s arrival, while the Guard of Honour gave a Royal Salute.

National figures had gathered in the royal pavilion for the pomp and pageantry of the ceremonial welcome with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak joined by senior members of the Cabinet, as well as the Lord Mayor of London, Nicholas Lyons, and the Defence Chiefs of Staff.

More than 1,000 soldiers and over 230 horses took part in the ceremonial event and waiting on the parade ground were two immaculate lines of Foot Guards from Number 7 Company The Coldstream Guards.

Nearby in their gleaming breast plates and plumed helmets were the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment – Life Guards and Blues and Royals, commanded by Major Robert Perera of the Blues and Royals.

Mr Ramaphosa then joined Charles and Camilla as well as the Prince and Princess of Wales for a carriage procession along The Mall.

Upon reaching the Palace, they were met by a second Guard of Honour found by 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, while at the Tower of London, a 62-round gun salute was fired by the Honourable Artillery Company regiment to mark the President’s visit.

Following a private lunch at the Palace, the King invited Mr Ramaphosa to view an exhibition in the Picture Gallery of items from the Royal Collection relating to South Africa.

The President then visited Westminster Abbey, where he will laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, and took a tour, which included the memorial stone for Nelson Mandela, the South African President between 1994 and 1999.

After that, Mr Ramaphosa went to the Palace of Westminster, where he was 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.


After the private lunch at Buckingham Palace, in which they were joined by other members of the Royal Family, including the the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Duke of Gloucester.

The seemingly very jovial party was treated to a small exhibition of South African artefacts from the Royal Collection in the Picture Gallery.

It included a bowl given to the late Duke of Edinburgh to mark his attendance of Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as president in 1994 and a letter written by the Queen to welcome South Africa back into the Commonwealth after 33 years.

There was also a stunning chess set given to the duke by President Mandela when he visited London in 1996, the first by a South African head of state.

It features two tribes – the Zulus and the Ndebele – in place of the traditional black and white pieces.

‘This is rather wonderful,’ the King told the president proudly.

A photograph of the then Prince of Wales with President Mandela and the Spice Girls in South Africa in 1997 also caught the President’s eye. ‘Ah, there you are,’ he said with evident delight.

When Mr Ramaphosa picked up a photograph of the Queen with former president Mr Mandela during a 1996 Buckingham Palace state banquet, he said: ‘This lovely picture,’ and agreed when the King replied: ‘You were lucky to have known both.’

Many of the visiting delegation seemed particularly pleased to see pictures of the late Queen dotted around the exhibition. ‘I was there for that!’ exclaimed the South African foreign minister.

The late Queen had a particular affinity for the country after choosing it as the venue for her keynote 21st birthday speech in which she famously devoted her life to the service of others.

Former President Donald Trump’s state visit in 2019 was the most recent by a world leader but his welcome was staged in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, so the official visit by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in 2019 was the last time a full ceremonial welcome was staged on Horse Guards Parade.

Lieutenant Colonel James Shaw, Brigade Major of Headquarters Household Division, who delivered the military ceremonial spectacle, said: ‘The state visit is a historic first: our first state visit for His Majesty the King and the President of South Africa, the first state visit in London since 2019, the first processional state visit on Horse Guards since 2018, and the first for almost everyone on parade.’

He added: ‘A huge amount of work has gone into preparing for the visit and we are very proud to support such an important national occasion.’

Climate change, trade and Charles’s vision for the Commonwealth are expected to be on the agenda during Mr Ramaphosa’s two-day visit.

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.’