Queen Elizabeth II arrived Sunday on a historic visit, her first trip back to South Africa since she came in 1947 as a young princess of 21.
About 50 onlookers and scores of journalists were on hand for the Queen’s low-key arrival at the airport, where she was greeted by Deputy President Thabo Mbeki and a 3-year-old girl bearing peach-colored roses.
An official welcome ceremony with President Nelson Mandela was scheduled for today.
The royal visit “signals the strength of relations between this country and the United Kingdom and I think it is particularly good that she has come … so soon after the change of government here,” Mbeki told reporters.
During the hectic, six-day visit, the queen was to address the parliament elected last year in South Africa’s first all-race vote. She also was expected to bestow a top British honor on Mandela and visit black townships, clinics and schools.
Zanele Ngakane, daughter of Mbeki’s personal assistant, Nomsa Ngakane, presented the queen with a bouquet at the airport Sunday.
The queen then climbed into a helicopter for a short flight to Simon’s Town to board the royal yacht Britannia, where she was to spend the night.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.