Charles first state visit with a feast fir for a KIng

King Charles and Camilla prepare for state banquet

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The King told the African leader at last night’s glittering state banquet in the Buckingham Palace ballroom how freedom fighter-turned-President Mandela had an endearing nickname for Her Majesty. Charles said: “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!” Charles, 74, added how “links between our countries run deep, with extensive family, professional and cultural ties”.

The royals and their guests tucked into a lavish menu of two mains: grilled brill with wild mushrooms, truffles and sorrel sauce or ballotine of Windsor pheasant filled with artichokes, quince compote, washed down with glasses of port.

The Princess of Wales, who had earlier accompanied husband Prince William to officially welcome Mr Ramaphosa to London, looked simply majestic in a Jenny Packham dress complete with the Lover’s Knot tiara, a diamond and pearl-encrusted headpiece made in 1914.

It was also a favourite of Diana, Princess of Wales. And Kate complemented her formal white gown with earrings that were Diana’s and a bracelet belonging to the late Queen.

Queen Camilla also beamed in a Royal blue lace evening dress by Bruce Oldfield. She wore Elizabeth’s sapphire and diamond tiara with matching necklace and bracelet.

Earlier, the African leader, whose wife First Lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe was forced to miss the visit after reportedly undergoing eye surgery, arrived under sunny, blue skies at London’s Horse Guards Parade.

There was a procession of 1,000 soldiers, 230 horses, seven military bands and two state coaches.

The King and Queen arrived in the state Bentley to greet their VIP guest.

The pomp and ceremony began as Mr Ramaphosa’s motorcade arrived, with the King’s Life Guard, positioned on Whitehall, ­giving a salute.

The President’s limousine crossed the square overlooked by Wellington’s former office and as he stepped on to the royal pavilion was greeted by the King, and gun salutes fired across the capital. In nearby Green Park, 41 ­volleys were fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and 62 volleys by the Honourable Artillery Company at the Tower of London.

After they inspected a guard of honour at the Palace, Charles took Mr Ramaphosa on a tour of items in the Royal Collection relating to South Africa.

They voiced their respect and admiration for Mr Mandela, who died in 2013, and the late Queen.

When Mr Ramaphosa picked up a photo of the UK’s longest-reigning sovereign with Mr Mandela at a 1996 Palace banquet, he said: “This lovely picture,” and agreed when the King replied: “You were lucky to have known both.”

As they came across a framed shot of Charles with the Spice Girls in South Africa in 1997, the President said: “There you are,” with Charles adding with a smile: “There they are.”

The President will visit Kew Gardens today with the Earl of Wessex and later meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

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