King hosts his first state visit as monarch with key roles for William and Kate

The King and Queen Consort are to entertain the President of South Africa with a glittering banquet at Buckingham Palace as they host the first ever incoming state visit of the new reign.

Buckingham Palace has released the itinerary of Cyril Ramaphosa’s two day trip to the UK next week, revealing the Prince of Wales, in his new role as heir to the throne, will, with the Princess of Wales, step up to play a major part in the important diplomatic event.

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The Duchess of Cambridge and the then US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin during a state banquet for Donald Trump in 2019 (Victoria Jones/PA)

It is the first state visit to be held in the UK for more than three years due to the Covid pandemic, with the last being then-US president Donald Trump in 2019.

It is also the first to take place since the death of the late Queen in September.

William and Kate will greet the president at his London hotel on behalf of the King on Tuesday morning, travel with him to Horse Guards Parade for the ceremonial welcome with Charles, and join the carriage procession back to the Palace.

The prince and princess are expected to attend the white tie banquet on Tuesday evening, with Kate and Camilla in tiaras. Both the King and the president will make speeches.

Queen Elizabeth II death
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa signing a book of condolence for Queen Elizabeth II (Jonathan Hordle/PA)

The visit follows the traditional format adopted during the reign of the late Queen.

On his return from Horse Guards, the King will host the president at a private lunch at the Palace and then invite him to view an exhibition in the Picture Gallery of items from the Royal Collection relating to South Africa.

Mr Ramaphosa will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey, as is tradition, and also visit the Palace of Westminster, giving an address in the Royal Gallery to politicians, before the evening state banquet.

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Queen Elizabeth II death
A state banquet at Buckingham Palace (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

On Wednesday, the Earl of Wessex will escort the South African leader to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.

The King this week asked Parliament to add his youngest brother Edward – and sister the Princess Royal – as an extra Counsellor of State so he can deputise for the monarch if need be.

Mr Ramaphosa will then visit Downing Street to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, before returning to the Palace to bid farewell to the King.

He will receive a call by the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, and on Wednesday evening attend a Guildhall banquet with the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

In 2014, William and Kate greeted the President of Singapore Tony Tan Keng Yam on behalf of the Queen and joined the Horse Guards Parade ceremonial welcome.

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The President of Singapore Tony Tan leaves in a carriage with the Queen in 2014 (Toby Melville/PA)

But traditionally, it was usually a duty which fell to Charles, as the then Prince of Wales.

William and Kate have attended a number of state banquets.

Next week’s visit was in the early stages of planning before the Queen’s death.

It comes as Mr Ramaphosa faces allegations of money laundering that threaten his position.

The president has denied the accusations, which include illegally holding around four million dollars in cash at his game ranch in northern South Africa and covering up its theft in an attempt to hide the existence of the money.