President Zuma’s Visit to the UK

  March 8, 2010 at 10:57 pm by

View the image at the Daily Mail

South African President Jacob Zuma has just undertaken a state visit to the United Kingdom, upon the invitation of HM Queen Elizabeth II. He and his wife, Mrs Thobeka Madiba Zuma, arrived on March 2nd.

The following day, March 3rd, the ceremonial welcome took place on Horse Guards Parade. Queen Elizabeth and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh welcomed the South African President and First Lady, accompanied by TRH the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, before Prince Philip and President Zuma viewed the customary guard of honour. A carriage procession along the Mall to Buckingham Palace followed, as did a private lunch.

After the lunch, the Queen took her visitors for a viewing of an exhibition of South African items which come from the Royal Collection (including gifts received previously). After completing the viewing, gifts were exchanged between the two heads of state, and President Zuma was left looking a little crestfallen as he learned that the specifically-crafted, Zulu and Xhosa warriors chess set he presented to the Queen was not the only one in the Collection. Former President Nelson Mandela presented a near-identical set to the Duke of Edinburgh during his visit in 1996.

In the afternoon, President Zuma and his wife split away from the royals and visited Westminster Abbey to lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, another state visit custom. Visits to Oliver Tambo’s House, Alexandra Park School and the Oliver Tambo Memorial at the Albert Road Recreation Ground followed. The traditional state banquet was held that evening at Buckingham Palace, where the Queen praised the South African democratic journey, “The task was daunting in its scale and ambition but was achieved through a deliberate and courageous effort of reconciliation and peaceful resolution of differences.”

On March 4th, a heavy schedule began with a meeting with Prime Minister Brown and his wife Sarah at 10 Downing Street. This was followed by a visit to the Lewisham Town Hall, Sainsbury’s Supermarket in Greenwich, Olympic Park and the Palace of Westminster where President Zuma addressed members of the British Parliament and members of the South Africa and Africa All Party Parliamentary Groups. Wembley Stadium was the last afternoon stop for the visitors, where President Zuma took a penalty on the football pitch to promote this year’s FIFA World Cup, to be held in his motherland. A presentation was also given on 2018 World Cup bid by England. A banquet at the Guildhall was held in the evening hosted by The Lord Mayor and Corporation of London, and attended by TRH the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

The final day of the visit and President Zuma was formally farewelled at the Grand Entrance of Buckingham Palace by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, before heading off to an audience with HRH the Prince of Wales at Clarence House, where they discussed climate change and youth opportunities. Mrs Zuma visited Hammersmith Hospital.

Click here to view the state visit thread for more information and pictures.

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