What is a State Visit?
Foreign Monarchs, Presidents or Prime Ministers are invited to visit The King on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Likewise invitations are issued to His Majesty to travel overseas via the FCDO.
The programme for outward State Visits can vary widely, but incoming Visits usually feature a few regular events.
Inbound State Visits
How are the visitors welcomed?
Firstly, The King and other Members of the Royal Family greet visitors with a ceremonial welcome, which usually takes place on Horse Guards Parade.
The visiting party is invited to inspect a Guard of Honour before travelling back to the Palace in a carriage procession escorted by a large number of mounted soldiers from the Household Cavalry. The welcome is accompanied by gun salutes fired from Green Park and the Tower of London.
What else happens during the visit?
Usually on the evening of the arrival day, the visitors will be hosted at a State Banquet, which is a very grand formal occasion held in the Buckingham Palace Ballroom. Around 150 guests are usually invited on the basis of their cultural, diplomatic or economic links to the country being hosted.
Before dinner is served, The King makes a speech and proposes a toast to the visiting Head of State, who replies and in return proposes a toast to Her Majesty.
For the remainder of the State Visit, which normally lasts a few days, the visitor will meet the British Prime Minister, Government ministers and leaders of the main political parties. They may attend another Banquet hosted by the Lord Mayor and City of London Corporation, where they will meet leaders of commerce and industry.
Sometimes the Royal Collection will display an exhibition of themed items, for example when The King of Spain came in 2017, a display of Spanish-themed objects was displayed – including a section dedicated to Queen Ena of Spain, who was Queen Victoria’s youngest granddaughter and King Felipe’s great-grandmother.
State Visits during The King's reign:
- 22-24 November 2022 - The President of the Republic of South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa, accompanied by Dr Tshepo Motsepe.
- 21-23 November 2023 - The President of the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Yoon Suk Yeol, accompanied by Mrs Kim Keon Hee.
- 29-31 March 2023 - to Germany at the invitation of Federal President Frank Walter Steinmeier and Elke Büdenbender.
- 20-22 September 2023 - to France at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron and Madame Macron.
- 31 October-3rd November 2023 - to Kenya at the invitation of President Ruto and the First Lady.
The State Visits of Queen Elizabeth II: