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Prince Charles, Zulu king revisit turbulent past

Published on 04/11/2011

Britain's Prince Charles and Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini revisited the fraught history of conflict between their nations as they met Friday at the site of the last battle of the Anglo-Zulu War.

The two royals rehashed the history of the 1879 conflict in speeches at Ondini Palace in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, the place where the British army carried out its final rout of King Cetshwayo’s forces, razing his palace to the ground and effectively ending the independence of the Zulu nation.

“Our relationship hasn’t always been entirely smooth but it has always been characterised by deep admiration and respect,” said Charles, who arrived in South Africa on Wednesday for a four-day visit with wife Camilla.

“Our meeting is but the latest in a long line and brings our relationship into the 21st century.”

Zwelithini, the traditional leader of the Zulu people — South Africa’s largest ethnic group — gave the prince a portrait of King Cetshwayo.

Charles reciprocated with a silver cup, which he said echoed the one given to Cetshwayo by Queen Victoria after the king visited her in 1882 and asked to be allowed to return home from forced exile.

“Our great nation, the Zulus, and the British share a very rich history that is both good and not so good,” Zwelithini said in his speech.

“Our meeting today marks a new beginning between our nations, an era of mutual respect and cooperation.”

Charles and Camilla were greeted at the palace by an honour guard of Zulu warriors in traditional dress, and were serenaded by three royal praise singers as they made their way to a tented dining room where the gifts were exchanged.

They were due to visit a game reserve later in the day before travelling to Cape Town, where the prince will give a speech on climate change.