Soweto – Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla toured Johannesburg’s historic Soweto township on Thursday on the first full day of a visit to South Africa.
They were greeted at the Freedom Square Monument by the Soweto Gospel Choir, with 24 singers and a drummer in colourful traditional dress and beads, singing Miriam Makeba’s Click Song and other African favourites.
Children from local schools and a creche lined the square for the royal pair’s arrival, receiving smiles and waves from the couple.
“It was so cool, I liked that. It’s so long I want to see the prince,” said Boniswa Msibi, an 18-year-old Soweto high school pupil who shook hands with the prince. “We’re so happy that they’re coming into Soweto to see us and are not afraid of us.”
Camilla, dressed in a cream-coloured butterfly-print dress and a cream jacket with black piping, tried on some colourful hats at a handicraft stall.
“Lovely, these hats,” the prince said.
The couple inspected the monument at the centre of the square, a tribute to the Freedom Charter drafted by the now-ruling African National Congress in 1955 to counter the policies of the white-minority apartheid government.
The charter remains the cornerstone of ANC policies today, and its text is printed on a large stone disc inside the conical monument.
Later in the day, Charles was set to meet business leaders in the nearby capital Pretoria to discuss climate change, and then to visit Nelson Mandela’s personal archives at his foundation in Johannesburg.
Before leaving for Tanzania on Sunday, the pair will also meet Zulu King Zwelithini at his residence in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, as well as Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
In Cape Town, the prince will discuss climate change with government and business representatives.
The last time the prince visited South Africa was in 1997.