Wednesday, March 14, 2007.
…Queen rolls out red carpet for President
From: KWAKU OSEI BONSU, GNA Special Correspondent, London
Three-day historic visit at the invitation of the Queen is designed to reinforce the strong political and economic ties, which have existed between Ghana and its former colonial ruler over the years. This comes amidst the growing international appreciation of the country’s democratic governance and economic performance.
QUEEN Elizabeth II rolled out the red carpet for President John Agyekum Kufuor at the start of his high profile State Visit to the United Kingdom with a spectacular royal ceremonial welcome to Bucking Palace.
The ceremonies to officially receive President Kufuor began at exactly 11.55 a.m. with the formation of a parade in his honour by the Queen’s Household Regiment backed by 100 horses, at the royal ceremonial grounds.
Then, came the arrival of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, which was greeted with cheers by the large number of flag-waving Ghanaian residents in the UK, attracted to watch the event.
Moments later, President Kufuor’s convoy drove in and when he stepped out of the car, dressed in a black suit with white shirt and a blue tie, with his wife, Theresa, adorned in her beautifully designed traditional wear, the crowd went into a frenzy and kept on cheering.
The Ghanaian First Family then exchanged greetings with the Queen and her husband as the canons boomed in the background. President Kufuor thereafter, led by Prince Philip, inspected the Guard of Honour, while Mrs. Kufuor and the Queen exchanged pleasantries.
The highest point was when the Ghanaian leader and the British Monarch climbed into the centuries old, gold State Coach, the remarkably ornate coach, built for King George III, pulled by eight horses and led by 100 others, for the carriage procession to the Guard Entrance of the Palace.
Prince Philip and Mrs. Kufuor followed in another coach. So splendid was the event that a number of Ghanaians in the UK, including the Reverend Dr. Gordon Odonkor, the Ghanaian Chaplain for London, Ms. Catherine Ampaw of the OBE Television and Ms. Thelma Sarpong, a nurse, said they were proud to be Ghanaians.
The Queen by tradition invites two leaders to the UK for a State Visit every year. This year, President Kufuor happens to be the first to have received that honour.
The Queen conducted President and Mrs. Kufuor to view a collection of Ghanaian items, and later visited the Westminster Abbey, where he laid a wreath at the grave of the unknown warrior and also toured the British Museum.
The President was scheduled to receive courtesy calls by the leader of the British Opposition, leader of the Liberal Democrats and the Commonwealth Secretary-General Mr. Don McKinnin. He will also meet with business leaders.
Other highlights of his programme will be talks with British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and a meeting with African Heads of Mission.
* Queen Elizabeth admiring some historical Ghanaian artifacts in the
royal collection at the Palace.
THE GHANAIAN TIMES - Wednesday, March 14, 2007 Pages: 1 & 4