South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa shakes hands with King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort of the United Kingdom, during the welcome ceremony at Horse Guards Parade on November 22, 2022 in London, England. Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – King Charles hosted his first state visit since becoming British monarch on Tuesday, welcoming South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to Buckingham Palace.

Charles, 74, rolled out the traditional pomp and ceremony for the first time as head of state, as Britain seeks to bolster its relations with its biggest trading partner in Africa.

South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
A procession leading a state carriage containing Britain’s King Charles, Queen Consort Camilla and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa back to Buckingham Palace in London, Britain, November 22, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Pool
South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
Britain’s King Charles, Queen Camilla, Prince William, Prince of Wales, Catherine, Princess of Wales and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attend a ceremonial welcome, during the President’s state visit, at Horse Guards Parade, in London, Britain, November 22, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa walks near royal guards at a Ceremonial Welcome at Horse Guards Parade in London, Britain Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool via REUTERS

Ramaphosa and his wife were officially greeted by Charles’s eldest son and heir Prince William and his wife Kate at a central London hotel (Corinthia) to mark the start of his two-day trip, the first state visit to the UK by a world leader since that of former U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania in 2019.

Britain's Prince William, Prince of Wales, and his wife Britain's Catherine, Princess of Wales, greeting South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Corinthia Hotel in London this morning, at the start of the president's two-day state visit. Justin Tallis/Pool via REUTERS
Britain’s Prince William, Prince of Wales, and his wife Britain’s Catherine, Princess of Wales, greet South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Corinthia Hotel in London on November 22, 2022, at the start of the president’s two-day state visit. Justin Tallis/Pool via REUTERS
Prince William and Princess Catherine greet S. Africa's Ramaphosa on state visit
Prince William and Princess Catherine greet South Africa’s Ramaphosa on state visit. He appears to have made them laugh! Photo: Reuters keyframe

Gun salutes and a ceremonial welcome from the king and his wife Camilla, the queen consort, followed before a grand carriage procession along The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where a banquet will be held later in the president’s honour.


South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
Britain’s King Charles and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa attend a ceremonial welcome, during the President’s state visit, at Horse Guards Parade, in London, Britain, November 22, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

On Tuesday afternoon Ramaphosa visited Westminster Abbey to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and see the memorial stone for former South African President Nelson Mandela.

SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA SEEING MEMORIAL STONE TO FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT NELSON MANDELA IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY / RAMAPHOSA LAYING WREATH AT TOMB OF UNKNOWN WARRIOR
SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA TODAY VIEWED THE MEMORIAL STONE TO FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT NELSON MANDELA IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY, BEFORE LAYING A WREATH AT THE TOMB OF AN UNKNOWN WARRIOR (PICTURED)

He will also address lawmakers in parliament and meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Britain hopes the visit, which had been planned before the death of Queen Elizabeth in September, will strengthen trade and investment ties between the two nations, and show the importance of links with the Commonwealth of Nations, the international organisation which Charles now heads.

“This is a reinforcement of the strong bilateral relationship that we have with South Africa, a real opportunity to build on that close working relationship and discuss some of the issues that affect us all,” British foreign minister James Cleverly told Reuters.

The last state visit to Britain by a South African leader was that of President Jacob Zuma in 2010, when he was met by Charles and Camilla at the start of the trip.

President Ramaphosa arrived in London yesterday (Monday) and visited the SA High Commission office in Trafalgar Square, where a protest was held by the DA and South Africans abroad.

UPDATE: MORE PHOTOS FROM PRESIDENT RAMAPHOSA’S STATE VISIT

South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary James Cleverley attend a Ceremonial Welcome for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in London, Britain Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. Paul Grover/Pool via REUTERS
South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa reacts at the Houses of Parliament during a state visit, in London, Britain, November 22, 2022. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Pool
South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
Britain’s William, the Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales, speak with each other during the ceremonial welcome for the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State Visit to the UK at Horse Guards Parade in London. Paul Grover/Pool via REUTERS
South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa takes a picture on his phone of a memorial stone to former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill during his visit to Westminster Abbey in London while accompanied by the Dean Of Westminster Abbey, The Very Reverend David Hoyle, as part of the State Visit to the UK by the South African president. Picture date: Tuesday November 22, 2022. Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS
South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, William, Prince of Wales, King Charles III and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa view items displayed as part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace on November 22, 2022 in London, England. Dan Kitwood/Pool via REUTERS
South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks at the Houses of Parliament during a state visit, in London, Britain, November 22, 2022. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Pool
South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort, show South African President Cyril Ramaphosa items, including a photograph of President Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II, displayed as part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace on November 22, 2022 in London, England. Dan Kitwood/Pool via REUTERS
South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort, show South African President Cyril Ramaphosa items, including a a chess set, which was a gift from President Mandela to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1996, displayed as part of the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace on November 22, 2022 in London, England. Dan Kitwood/Pool via REUTERS
South African President Ramaphosa visits the UK
Pres Ramaphosa having a laugh with the King and Queen consort. Photo Reuters Keyframe

(Reporting by Michael Holden and Alistair Smout, Editing by William Maclean and Bernadette Baum)