King Charles Remembers Queen Elizabeth During His First State Banquet Speech

King Charles is hosting his first State Visit as Britain rolls out the red carpet for South Africa's President Ramaphosa. But the King made sure that his late mother's memory was center stage as he chose to recall her relationship with South Africa in his State Banquet speech.

The King began his speech by recalling Queen Elizabeth's famous pledge from Cape Town when she was just 21 devoting her life to duty. "South Africa, like the Commonwealth, has always been a part of my life," Charles said. "My mother often recalled her visit in 1947, the year before I was born, when, from Cape Town on Her twenty-first birthday, she pledged her life to the service of the people of the Commonwealth. It is therefore particularly moving and special that you are our guest on this, the first State Visit we have hosted."

He also mentioned the Queen's special relationship with former President Mandela, whom she visited in South Africa in 1995 and hosted for a State Visit in the UK in 1996. "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'," he said. "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!"

queen and nelson mandela
Queen Elizabeth and Nelson Mandela in 1996.Tim Graham - Getty Images

Looking to the future, the King spoke of "working together across our countries and our generations" to "tackle some of the greatest challenges of our times." He also acknowledged "elements of that history which provoke profound sorrow" and said that "we must acknowledge the wrongs which have shaped our past if we are to unlock the power of our common future."

In turn, President Ramaphosa spoke of the "great fondness" from his country for the late Queen Elizabeth. He described working together through "partnership" and "collaboration" to "improve the lives and prospects of our people."

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