Royal Visits to South Africa

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Archie are about to start their 9-Day Tour of Southern Africa, starting in South Africa later today, so to mark the start of the Tour, we are taking a look at the Previous Royal Visits to South Africa.

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One of the first Royal Visits was in 1901, during the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later King George V and Queen Mary)’s massive Tour of the British Empire, which started just over a month after the death of Queen Victoria, and included stops in Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said, Aden, Ceylon, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Mauritius, Canada, and Newfoundland. Their elder son, the Prince of Wales toured South Africa in 1925, while their youngest son, the Duke of Kent, visited in 1935. Royal Governor Generals of South Africa included Prince Arthur of Connaught (a grandson of Queen Victoria) with Princess Alexandra, Duchess of Fife (a granddaughter of King Edward VII) from 1920 to 1924, and the Earl of Athlone with Princess Alice (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria) from 1924 to 1930.

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The most major Royal Visit to South Africa came in 1947, when King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret visited their Southern African dominions, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Swaziland, Basutoland and the Bechuanaland Protectorate, during a three-month Tour. Princess Elizabeth notably celebrated her 21st Birthday (receiving her ‘best diamonds’) during the trip and delivered the famous speech broadcast around the Empire.

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However, due to the South African Government’s Apartheid Regime soon after the 1947 visit, members of the Royal Family avoided South Africa, despite the Queen being Sovereign of South Africa until 1961. In 1995, in support of reconciliation with the new South African government, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh made a State Visit to South Africa on the Royal Yacht Britannia, hosted by President Mandela. The Queen returned to South Africa for the 16th Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Durban in 1999, and has hosted State Visits from South Africa in 2001 and 2011.

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The Prince of Wales visited South Africa with Prince Harry in November 1997, soon after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and later visited with the Duchess of Cornwall for a five day tour of South Africa in 2011. He also attended the Funeral of Nelson Mandela in 2013.

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After spending time in Lesotho, where he founded Sentebale, during his Gap Year, Prince Harry has regularly visited South Africa on private visit. In 2008, Prince William and Prince Harry took part in the Enduro Africa 08 Charity Motorcycle Ride from Durban to Port Elizabeth in aid of UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Sentebale. Prince Harry most recently made an Official Visit to South Africa in 2015 on behalf of the Queen, also visiting Lesotho.

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