Charles cracks gags and pays tribute to mother at first State Banquet

Chuckling Charles cracks gags about the weather and pays touching tribute to his late mother as he addresses South Africa’s President during his first State Banquet as King

  • King Charles hosted South African president Cyril Ramaphosa in a state banquet
  • Charles left Mr Ramaphosa laughing with his jokes about the British weather
  • He welcomed the South African delegation in several of the country’s languages
  • The new monarch made a touching tribute to his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II 

King Charles left the President of South Africa laughing after cracking jokes about the British weather in a speech at his first state banquet as monarch tonight.

The new king pulled out all the stops to impress president Cyril Ramaphosa and his country’s delegation as they came to Buckingham Palace this evening.

As well as putting a smile on the face of South African premier, the King left him gasping with delight after welcoming him in several of the nation’s native languages. 

And there were touching scenes as Charles paid tribute to his late mother Queen Elizabeth II, who had been monarch when the state visit was organised.

He was speaking ahead of an opulent banquet at the palace to an audience of 163 guests which included other members of the Royal Family and senior politicians from both countries.

King Charles makes the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, laugh during a speech before tonight’s state banquet at Buckingham Palace

Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, laughs as King Charles III cracks jokes during a speech at tonight’s state banquet

King Charles and president Cyril Ramaphosa toast at the state banquet at Buckingham Palace tonight

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!’

He also addressed head on 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.’

The president gently nodded at his words.

King Charles III (centre) and his wife Camilla, Queen Consort, welcome South African president Cyril Ramaphosa (left) to tonight’s state banquet at Buckingham Palace

King Charles and President Cyril Ramaphosa appear deep in conversation as they make their way to the state banquet at Buckingham Palace tonight

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

Earlier he had opened with the word ‘welcome’ in several of the main languages of South Africa, which left the President delight. 

‘Wow,’ he said openly.

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

Strictly star Johannes Radebe, originally from South Africa, was among the 163 guests at the white-tie dinner, joining broadcaster Zeinab Badawi, interior designer Kelly Hoppen and endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh.

Royal glamour was on show with the royal women – Queen Consort, Princess of Wales and Countess of Wessex – wearing lavish banquet gowns and sparkling tiaras.

Leading national figures were also present from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to Lord Hain, the former Northern Ireland secretary and anti-apartheid campaigner, and Andrew Bailey – Governor of the Bank of England.

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