7 July 2011
There was a light-hearted atmosphere on Wednesday when South African President Jacob Zuma and his wife Thobeka Mabhija briefly hosted the Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco.
Zuma met with the royal Monaco couple at the King’s House presidential residence in Durban for a “courtesy call”.
There was no time for questions, as Prince Albert had to rush back to the International Olympic Committee meeting to vote for the 2018 Winter Olympic hosts, which eventually went to Pyeongchang.
“As we all know that the Prince is here as part of the International Olympic Committee, but also because of the programme that could not allow me to attend the royal wedding, I felt that I should invite them,” said Zuma.
Prince Albert was pleased to be in the city: “Durban is very close to Charlene’s heart, so it’s great that I have the chance to get to know it. It has been an incredible pleasure and really momentous. It’s a wonderful coincidence that the 123rd IOC conference happening at the time of our visit.”
Zuma was delighted to spend time with “a very important couple, a very fresh couple who have just been married.
“We have had a wonderful time, though the time was short,” Zuma said. “We’ve had a good discussion about a number of things, including understanding Monaco, because it is quite a unique country.”
There were no words from Princess Charlene, who smiled graciously throughout the media briefing.
“The internationally acclaimed wedding also served as a happy signal of the nature of the close and warm relations between South Africa and Monaco,” Zuma said.
The President reaffirmed South Africa’s commitment to building on the positive foundation that exists with the tiny European principality.
The royal couple will host a gala dinner for around 450 guests at Durban’s exclusive Oyster Box on Thursday.
Zuma joked with reporters that they couldn’t attend the Monaco wedding, but he had brought the couple to King’s House to give the media a chance to see them.