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Yoon, first lady receive ceremonial welcome from King Charles III, Queen Camilla

Nov. 22, 2023 - 08:14 By Yonhap

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (2nd from left) and his wife Kim Keon Hee (left), alongside King Charles III (3rd from left) and Queen Camilla (4th from left), attend a welcome ceremony for the South Korean leader at Horse Guards Parade in London on Tuesday, during his state visit to Britain to celebrate 140 years of diplomatic relations. (Yonhap)

LONDON -- South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and first lady Kim Keon Hee received a ceremonial welcome from King Charles III and Queen Camilla as they began their state visit to Britain on Tuesday.

The ceremony began with Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, arriving at Yoon and Kim's hotel in London to travel with them to Horse Guards Parade, where the official welcome took place amid a 41-gun salute and an inspection of the Guard of Honor.

The King and Queen greeted the president and the first lady at the Royal Pavilion on Horse Guards Parade, before King Charles introduced palace and government officials to Yoon.

Yoon could also be seen shaking hands and exchanging greetings with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Yoon and the first lady are Britain's first state guests since the king's coronation in May. Their visit marks the 140th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The ceremony was followed by a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace.

Yoon and King Charles rode in a golden carriage along The Mall, joined only by their interpreters.

Kim and Queen Camilla rode in a carriage behind them, followed by five more carriages carrying Prince William and his wife, as well as the president's entourage.

The road to Buckingham Palace was lined with South Korean and British national flags, while people gathered on the sides to watch the royal event.

At the palace, King Charles hosted a private lunch for Yoon and Kim, which was attended by around 50 people.

Yoon noted that South Korea and Britain are "blood allies" who fought together during the 1950-53 Korean War, and that Britain was the second-largest sending state after the United States, according to the presidential office.

He expressed his deep gratitude for the noble sacrifices of the British troops in defending South Korea's liberal democracy and peace.

Yoon and King Charles agreed that their countries' shared universal values are the firm foundation for the bilateral relationship and expressed their wish to strengthen cooperation not only for the development of bilateral relations but also for the promotion of freedom, peace and prosperity in the world, the presidential office said.

The luncheon was followed by an exchange of gifts and a viewing of an exhibition of items related to South Korea from the Royal Collection.

Later in the day, Yoon and the first lady laid a wreath at the Korean War Memorial in front of British veterans of the Korean War and the Duke of Gloucester, marking the 70th anniversary of the armistice that ended fighting in the conflict.

They then visited Westminster Abbey, where they laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Yoon signed a guest book in English with the words, "Your Dedication To Freedom and Justice will be Remembered Forever."

Yoon also delivered a speech before the British parliament and met with Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats political party.

A state banquet at Buckingham Palace wrapped up the day, with more than 170 people in attendance, including Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong and K-pop group BLACKPINK.

Both Yoon and King Charles gave speeches at the start of the banquet, exchanging lines from works by some of their countries' most revered writers.

"Korea's preservation of its sense of self, amid bewildering change, was perhaps what the poet Yun Dong-ju, who so tragically died in captivity on the very eve of Korea's liberation, anticipated when he wrote: While the wind keeps blowing/ My feet stand upon a rock/ While the river keeps flowing/ My feet stand upon a hill," the king said.

Yoon quoted Shakespeare in response: "To me, fair friend, the United Kingdom, you never can be old." (Yonhap)