Zuma and new bride to meet queen

2010-02-28 12:23

THE latest of President Jacob Zuma’s wives, Thobeka Mabhija-Zuma,

will ­accompany him on his state visit to Britain this week.

The other wives, Sizakele Khumalo and Nompumelo Ntuli, will stay at

home while their co-marriage partner rubs shoulders with royalty and political


Zuma will visit the former colonial empire on invitation from Her

Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – and the Zuma’s are bound to have to pay close

attention to protocol if they don’t want to ­affront the notoriously stiff upper

lips of the British royals.

As guests of the queen and her consort Prince Philip, Duke of

Edinburgh, the ­Zumas will stay in Buckingham Palace, where they will sleep and


Several welcoming ceremonies, banquets and visits to historical

sites await the ­Zumas, each studded with potential protocol landmines.

Some dinners, such as state banquets, are reasonably safe since

they are official, but the real challenge lies in informal dinners at home with

the queen and her husband.

And then they have to face the politicians. Unlike at home,

visiting heads of state are required to meet with opposition leaders such as the

Conservative Party and the ­Liberal Democrats.

The Zumas will also have to get together with prime minister Gordon

Brown and his wife, Sarah.

And this is where Mrs Zuma will have to hold her own, since she and

Mrs Brown, ­according to British tradition, will have a private chat over their

respective realities as wives of heads of state, while their ­husbands get down

to more serious matters.

The Zumas arrive in Britain on Tuesday and return to South Africa

on Friday.

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