Photos: British prince visits local botanical garden

Henry

On Monday, visitors to the Pretoria Botanical Garden in Gauteng not only had the chance to see some of the area’s most beautiful flora, but also a British prince.

The United Kingdom’s (UK) Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh, paid a visit to the Pretoria Botanical Garden in Gauteng on Monday as part of his two-day courtesy visit to South Africa.

According to Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s office, his visit follows the “successful state visit” that Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa undertook to the UK in 2022 at the invitation of King Charles III.

Prince Edward is the youngest son of the late Queen Elizabeth II. In 2023, on his 59th birthday, he inherited his father Prince Philip’s former honorary title as Duke of Edinburgh, as well as the role of patron over various initiatives that promote environmental awareness.

The prince happened to play host to Ramaphosa in Britain in 2023, accompanying him to the Royal Botanic Gardens as part of the UK’s collaboration with members of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi).

Adj. Pres. Mashatile welcomed the Duke at the Oliver Tambo official residence in Pretoria on Tuesday, after which he was accompanied to the botanical garden by Barbara Creecy, Minister of Fisheries, Forestry and Environmental Affairs.

Here the Duke met Shonisani Munzhedzi, CEO of Sanbi, and other wildlife conservation organisations, including the WWF South Africa.

Aubrey (88) and Annie du Preez (85), a couple from Eersterust in Pretoria, also got the opportunity to shake the prince’s page during his visit.

The couple says that they visit the botanical garden almost every Tuesday, which is pensioner’s day, and as a result “were specially asked to act as ambassadors”.

“It was a beautiful experience and also one that I did not expect. He (the prince), and all his people who were with him, were extremely open and very friendly,” Annie told RNews.

“Now we can brag that we met one of Queen Elizabeth’s children,” Aubrey added.

The duke also thanks dr. Ephraim Mabena, a traditional healer, was given the opportunity to learn more about the medicinal value of South African plants and herbs and received a traditional cloth and headdress from healers as a gift.

The Duke will also meet the winners of the Presidential Awards, the international leg of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, during his time in the country.

This youth awards event, of which Ramaphosa is a patron, was founded by the Duke’s father in the UK in 1965 and has since expanded to 144 nations.

It seeks to create opportunities for young people to develop skills, become physically active, provide community service and take on new adventures.

In addition, he will also attend a dinner with Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation.

RNews reported earlier that the British royals are currently sparsely populated as both Princess Catherine of Wales and King Charles III are experiencing health challenges.

Shortly after the news broke that Catherine will not resume her royal duties until after the Easter weekend due to a “planned abdominal operation”, Buckingham Palace announced that King Charles III will soon have to undergo treatment for an enlarged prostate.

The 75-year-old king is expected to be hospitalized this week, while Princess Catherine, often known as Kate, was admitted to a private London clinic on January 16 and is currently recovering.

Therefore, it is expected that the king’s sister, Princess Anne, as well as Prince Edward, and his wife, Sophie, will probably take on more royal duties in the next few months.

Princess Anne and Prince Edward’s work duties have increased especially in the past two years due to Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex’s retirement as a working royal and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York’s involvement in the sensational Jeffrey Epstein scandal.