Address by President Nelson Mandela at State Banquet for Prince Charles, Cape Town

4 November 1997

Your Royal Highness;
Distinguished Guests;

It is a great honour, and a special pleasure, to play host to His Royal Highness.

Since South Africa achieved democracy, visits between our country and the United Kingdom have become frequent and regular. Indeed I have made no less than three visits to the United Kingdom in the space of two years.

Unfortunately, it is in the nature of things that visits by people more eminent that myself are less frequent. We cherish fond memories of the royal State Visit to South Africa by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 1995. We regard it as a watershed in the historical relationship between our countries, now firm partners for peace and prosperity.

As a token of our affection to Her Majesty, we conferred on her the name Motlalepula because her visit coincided with torrential rains as we had not experienced in a long time. With the threat of El Nino, we would have welcomed her presence in this period even more. But we can rest content that a part of her soul and her magic is with us today.

We have long looked forward to your visit, and we bid you and your delegation most welcome. May you find time in your busy schedule of work to experience the hospitality of our people and the warm affection they feel for Britain and for her royal family.

All South Africans would want me to take this opportunity to convey in person our heartfelt condolences at the tragic event which afflicted your family recently. With the rest of the world we mourned the loss of one who became a citizen of the world through her care for people everywhere. Brief as your visit is, you will sense our nation's shared sorrow with you and your family. May it give some small comfort in this time of grief.

Ladies and gentlemen;

The ceremony and the pageantry official visits are outward signs of bonds between nations; confirmation of the intent to strengthen relations; and a commitment to partnership for shared goals, They set the seal on the hard and plodding work of government officials; the enterprise of the private sector; and the initiatives of a multitude of non-governmental organisations. It is by giving impetus to these manifold activities and opening the way for new ones, that such visits promote the well-being of citizens.

The past three years have brought tangible evidence of the efficacy of this partnership between the United Kingdom and South Africa.

Out joint drive for investment to boost growth and development in South Africa has prospered thanks in part to the powerful business delegations that were part of our reciprocal State Visits. The inflow of R3,5 billion of investment since May 1994 has secured the UK's place as our foremost foreign investor.

Growth in South African exports over the same period have confirmed the Uk as our leading customer.

This is an opportunity to acknowledge once again the extensive programme of development co-operation from which South Africa has benefited since 1994. We can record our appreciation from which South Africa has benefited since 1994. We can record our appreciation of the vigour with which Her Majesty's Government is maintaining and indeed expanding this programme of capacity-building in priority areas, as a practical contribution to the elimination of poverty.

It is in this context that the visit of His Royal Highness is doubly welcome. We are encouraged by the focus of your visit on matters that are critical to the reconstruction and development of our country: the development of skills; sustainable management of the environment; community policing as the path to safety and security; and the renewal of urban areas degraded by apartheid policies.

Above all, I am proud to be a joint patron, with her Majesty the Queen, of the Nation's Trust established during the Royal State Visit. This partnership between the Prince's Trust UK and South African organisations gives practical meaning to our common commitment to the advancement of youth.

I caught a glimpse of what the Prince's Trust does when I visited Brixton in London together with His Royal Highness. I experienced on that tumultuous visit what it is like to accompany someone who is he centre of attention and popularity. I was also inspired by the children of Brixton, and their evident determination to play their part as future leaders of Britain.

Ladies and gentlemen;

I have just returned from Scotland, from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Promoting democratic values and ensuring that world economic growth benefits all, are foremost amongst the challenges facing the world today. The summit confirmed the increasing importance of the Commonwealth, unique in its diversity outside the United Nations itself, as a vehicle for promoting these goals and for combating poverty.

The visit of His Royal Highness is therefore an occasion for a heartfelt reaffirmation of close bonds and shared commitments.

May I ask you please to rise and drink with me a toast to the health of Her Majesty the Queen and Head of the Commonwealth.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website