LONDON – Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, formally welcomed on Tuesday the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, at the beginning of his state visit to the United Kingdom, the first that any Colombian president has made to this country.
Santos and his wife, Maria Clemencia Rodriguez de Santos, arrived Monday at London Stansted Airport, and until Thursday, Nov. 3, will be guests at Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the monarch in London.
The president, recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, was greeted in the early hours at the Rosewood London hotel by Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, and from there was taken to Horse Guards Parade for an honors ceremony.
Afterwards, with all the pomp and circumstance of the occasion, the British sovereign and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, extended the formal welcome to the Colombian leader at the Royal Pavilion.
There the Honor Guard gave the royal salute and performed the National Anthem of the Republic of Colombia.
Santos, accompanied by Prince Philip, inspected the Honor Guard as part of the program.
The British sovereign offered a private lunch in honor of her guests, who were later to visit an exhibition of works related to their country, part of the Royal Collection.
This afternoon the Colombian president is scheduled to visit Westminster Abbey, where he will be received by the dean, and will then move on to the British Parliament, to meet the heads of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
According to the program, Santos will address the members of Parliament and other special guests.
Also on the president’s agenda is a meeting with the Prince of Wales and his wife, Camila, at their residence in Clarence House, after which the official program ends with a banquet at Buckingham Palace, where Santos and the queen will each give speeches.
Santos, who visited the United Kingdom in 2011 as a guest, is scheduled to meet Wednesday with British Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss such subjects as UK support for peace in post-conflict Colombia and economic cooperation between the two countries.
The Colombian leader will meet with May in her office and official residence at 10 Downing Street, where they will discuss matters of bilateral interest.