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Saturday, November 5, 2011


Estelle Sinkins covers the visit of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to Ondini Palace. (Courtesy of The Witness)

The long and, at times, complicated, relationship between the British and Zulu royal families was celebrated in traditional splendour at the Ondini Palace in Zululand yesterday.

Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrived at the palace in Ulundi to be greeted King Goodwill Zwelithini, Prince Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi, and the Amabutho, a guard of honour comprising Zulu warriors in traditional dress.

Referring to the Anglo-Zulu War, Buthelezi said, in his speech, that it had proved the mettle of the Zulu people, adding: “It took on the might of her Britannic majesty’s forces to subjugate the Zulu – a larger force than was needed to conquer all of India.

“I am descended from warriors who engaged the British forces, but I am honoured to have been befriended by Your Highness over these many decades. We share a love of nature… are both patrons of the David Rattray Foundation… and we share a love for the country which brought us together”.

The centuries-old relationship between Britain and the people of the Zulu kingdom was also a focus of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s speech. “Our great nation, the Zulus, and the British share a very rich history that is both good and not so good,” he said. “The ground we are standing on is the ground of the battle of Ulundi… and the burning of this palace and the town of Ulundi.

“Our meeting today marks a new beginning between our nations, an era of mutual respect and co-operation,” he continued. “It is no coincidence that the responsibility to forge a good relationship between our two nations has been bestowed on the descendants of King Cetshwayo and Queen Victoria.”

He then appealed to the Prince to encourage people to invest in the province and in Zululand for the mutual benefit of Britain and South Africa’s people.

In response Prince Charles said: “I have such happy memories of coming to KwaZulu-Natal in 1997 with my youngest son (Harry) and have been looking forward to coming here with my wife. It is a particular pleasure to come in this year when Your Majesty is celebrating the 40th anniversary of his reign, and to bring special greetings for him from the Queen.”

He added that the royal archives at Windsor Castle contained fascinating insights into the 1882 visit by King Cetshwayo to Queen Victoria at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

“The queen was greatly impressed by the dignity of the king and the eloquence of his case to return to his people. She presented him with a silver cup to commemorate the occasion and given the special significance of this year I wanted to recall that historic event by bringing you a small silver cup to add to your collection and as a testimony to the deep bond between our two families,” Prince Charles said. “Our relationship hasn’t always been entirely smooth but it has always been characterised by deep admiration and respect.”

King Goodwill then presented Prince Charles with a portrait of King Cetshwayo taken in 1882 during his trip to Britain and the Zulu king, in turn, received a silver cup with the Prince of Wales feathers and fine feather detail on it. - Estelle Sinkins