Prince Charles and Camilla arrive in Rwanda as Commonwealth heads meet

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  • Prince Charles and Camilla have arrived in Rwanda, a first-ever royal visit to the African country.
  • The royal couple travelled to Kigali ahead of a summit of Commonwealth leaders, on Tuesday.
  • Charles has been anointed as the next head of the Commonwealth when he becomes king, but there is increased discussion about a move away from the royal family as its ceremonial head.


Prince Charles and Camilla have arrived in Rwanda.

The royal couple travelled to the African country ahead of a summit of Commonwealth leaders, on Tuesday, BBC reports.

The Prince of Wales will represent Queen Elizabeth, the head of the Commonwealth, at the event, which was postponed in 2021 and 2020 because of the pandemic.

"Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting convenes leaders from the 54 Commonwealth countries to reaffirm common values and agree on policies to improve the lives of its 2.5 billion citizens," reads a statement on the official Twitter account of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

SEE THE TWEET HERE:

The trip marks the first royal visit to Rwanda, which is one of a minority of nations Queen Elizabeth has not visited.

Flags, from the tiny Pacific island of Tuvalu to South Asian giant India, are flying at the airport and the palm tree-lined road leading to the city and the Kigali Convention Centre where the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is scheduled to take place on Friday and Saturday.

Some $4.7 million has been spent sprucing up the capital, with President Paul Kagame keen to portray "the country of a thousand hills" in the best possible light.

But the event, which was supposed to have been held in June 2020, takes place amid outrage at Britain's migrants settlement deal with Rwanda, and questions about the host's human rights record.

A tussle for the leadership of the Commonwealth, which represents some 2.5 billion people or a quarter of humanity, is also expected, with renewed talk about the body's future role and relevance.

Tensions?

The fall-out from the migrant deal potentially puts Prince Charles in a tricky spot. The visit will notably see the 73-year-old prince meet survivors of the 1994 genocide.

But his reported criticisms of the planned migrant deportations as "appalling" could make for an awkward meeting with Kagame and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson who back the scheme.

Amnesty International's director for east and southern Africa, Deprose Muchena, called on Commonwealth leaders to take a "firm and clear stance" against the policy.

"Member states need to seize the opportunity in Kigali to denounce this inhumane arrangement and pressure the UK and Rwanda to end the deal," he added.

Future

Charles has been anointed as the next head of the Commonwealth when he becomes king, taking over from his 96-year-old mother, who has championed the organisation since she came to the throne in 1952. But there is increased discussion about a move away from the royal family as its ceremonial head.

At the same time, republican movements in some of the 14 Commonwealth countries outside the UK where the queen is head of state are gathering pace.

Member state Barbados became the world's newest republic last year, and other Caribbean nations are pushing to follow suit.

Another member, Australia, has also appointed a minister for the republic, in a sign of constitutional change on the horizon.

Those questions loom large over the summit, and whether a diminished global reach for the British monarchy will even affect the Commonwealth's existence.

With additional reporting by Bronwyn McKay.

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