The UK Armed Forces have taken part in the official State Visit of the President of the Republic of South Africa, supporting ceremonial elements for official engagements.

Over a thousand soldiers and around 230 horses took part in events alongside HM The King and HM The Queen Consort to welcome The President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa.

The visit involved seven military bands and nine military units from across the British Army’s Household Division.

Brigade Major of The Household Division who was responsible for delivering the ceremonial elements of the visit, Lt Col James Shaw said:

“This State Visit is a historic first, our first State Visit for His Majesty The King and the President of South Africa, the first State Visit in London since 2018, and the first for almost everyone on parade.

“A huge amount of work has gone into preparing for the visit and we are very proud to support such an important national and international occasion.”

Image of the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Majesty The King, HM The Queen Consort, HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall and Cambridge, seen here at Horse Guards Parade in London today (22/11/2022). Photographer: Sgt Donald C Todd – Crown copyright:

Foot Guards from Number 7 Company The Coldstream Guards and the Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, The Life Guards and The Blues and Royals, formed a Guard of Honour on Horse Guards Parade, lined Horse Guards Parade.

Upon the President’s arrival, the National Anthem of South Africa was played and the Flagman broke the National Flag of South Africa on the roof of Horse Guards, a tradition of any official State Visit to the United Kingdom.

Highlighting the start of proceedings, ceremonial Gun Salutes were fired across London with a 41 Gun Salute at Green Park provided by The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, commanded by Major Fran Sykes, and a 62 Gun Salute provided by Her Majesty’s Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company.

Highlighting the start of proceedings, ceremonial Gun Salutes were fired, including the 62 Gun Salute provided by Her Majesty’s Tower of London by the Honourable Artillery Company. Photographer: Petty Officer Dave Jenkins – Crown copyright:

The Captain of the Horse Guards Guard of Honour, Major Andrew Dickinson of Number 7 Company The Coldstream Guards, presented the Guard of Honour to the South African President. The King accompanied the President as he carried out the inspection, a tradition of any visiting foreign leader or Head of State.

Troops from Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards, F Company Scots Guards and 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards lined the route of the carriage procession featuring the President, HM The King and HM The Queen Consort.

The Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, The Life Guards and The Blues and Royals accompany the State Carriage down the Mall toward Buckingham Palace. Photographer: Sgt Jimmy Wise – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

The purpose of a State Visit to strengthen the ties between the United Kingdom and the visiting nation. The Armed Forces regularly play a role in a State Visit, leading on many of the ceremonial elements stooped in hundreds of years of tradition and hosting foreign leaders and Heads of State.

South Africa and the UK have a highly valued partnership, reflected as President Ramaphosa being the first leader to be invited for a State Visit by His Majesty The King.

This particular visit builds upon the UK and the Republic of South Africa’s close ties through areas including the Commonwealth, trade and investment. The UK and South Africa are also committed to working together on global challenges, including security and conflict, food security, health, and climate change.

The Armed Forces last supported a State Visit in 2018, welcoming Their Majesties The King and Queen of The Netherlands for a formal visit hosted by the late HM Queen Elizabeth II.


Main photo: The Sovereign’s Escort of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, The Life Guards and The Blues and Royals accompany the State Carriage down the Mall toward Buckingham Palace. Photographer: Sgt Jimmy Wise – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2022

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