The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have arrived in Rwanda ahead of a summit of Commonwealth leaders.
Prince Charles is representing the Queen, the head of the Commonwealth, at the event, which was postponed in 2021 and 2020 because of the pandemic.
Prince Charles and Camilla arrived in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, on Tuesday night and were greeted by a small group of dignitaries.
Among those greeting the royal couple at the steps of the plane were the UK’s High Commissioner to Rwanda, Omar Daair, Rwanda’s High Commissioner to the UK, Johnston Busingye, special adviser Yamina Karitanyi and the prime minister’s special representative on the Commonwealth, Lord Ahmad.
The trip marks the first royal visit to Rwanda, which is one of a minority of nations the Queen has not visited.
Prince Charles last represented the Queen at Chogm in Sri Lanka in 2013, and in 2018 he was appointed the monarch’s designated successor as head of the Commonwealth.
The Prince of Wales will spend his first full day in Rwanda meeting survivors and perpetrators of the country’s 1994 genocide, prior to attending a summit of Commonwealth leaders.
Charles has been encouraged by former Rwandan footballer Eric Murangwa to visit a church outside the Rwandan capital where the remains of tens of thousands of genocide victims are buried.
Eric Murangwa, the founder of the organisation Football For Hope, Peace And Unity, was sheltered from the killings by teammates and the Prince of Wales made him an MBE in recognition of his efforts raising awareness of the genocide against the Tutsi.
The Commonwealth heads of government meeting (Chogm) is also the first to be hosted by a “new” Commonwealth member – Rwanda was never a British colony, but voluntarily joined the organisation in 2009.
Boris Johnson is expected to set out the economic advantages of the 54-member organisation amid popular republican campaigns from leading members including Australia and Jamaica.
Johnson will be trying to ensure that the get-together is an economic success. At previous Chogms, bilateral agreements and pacts have been signed off.
The prime minister says that being a member is of “immense practical value for trade” and labelled the benefits as the “Commonwealth advantage”.
Members have 21% lower costs when trading with each other and investment levels that are 27% higher than between non-member nations, he said.
“For all the differences between us, we are joined by an invisible thread of shared values, history and institutions and, of course, the English language,” Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph recently. “We will meet on equal terms as old friends who know one another well.”
Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm), Prince Charles said the partnership had the “potential” to make a difference on issues like climate change and providing opportunities for young people.
Rwanda is hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which brings together leaders and representatives from the group’s 54 members, most of which are former British colonies.
It’s the first time the biennial meeting has been held in four years, after the 2020 CHOGM was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The summit will be an opportunity for Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame to boost his status and promote his country to the outside world.