Charles, Prince of Wales and Heir to the English throne, now 69, is on a three-day visit to Nigeria from 6-8 November, his first in 12 years. Prince Charles was in Nigeria in 1990, 1999 and 2006. He is here as part of a West African tour which saw him to Gambia and Ghana.
Prince Charles, the new Head of the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations after succeeding his mother Queen Elizabeth II, in April 2018, is accompanied on the trip by his wife, The Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Camilla, whom he married upon the divorce and death of his first wife, Princess Diana.
The couple landed aboard a Boeing 737, British royal aircraft emblazoned with the Union Jack at the Presidential Wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at 01.25pm Tuesday 6 November to the warm reception of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello and junior Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hajia Khadijah Bukar Abba. After a brief military ceremony at the airport he was driven straight to the seat of Nigeria’s government, Aso Rock villa, where he met President Muhammadu Buhari, an hour later, along with top members of his cabinet.
Paul Arkwright, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, said the royals would move to Lagos to interface with the business community there before returning to Abuja for a number of other engagement. “It’s about the link”, he said, “it’s about the historic ties between Nigeria and UK.”
Prince Charles’s visit is coming in the heals of that of the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, in September 2018 in which she signed several bilateral defense and security agreements with Nigeria. Nigeria, the troubled former British colony, cobbled together by British imperial interests have had a chequered history of conflicts among its disparate nationalities. The prince, Akwright said, is “looking for ways in which to mediate to bring reconciliation in the middle belt of Nigeria”.
The royal couple, moments after the Aso Villa meeting, were driven to the residence of the British High Commissioner, Paul Arkwright, to confer with high rank Nigerian traditional rulers including the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe; Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar; Ooni of Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi; Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi; Shehu of Borno, Abubakar El-Kanemi; Etsu of Nupe, Yahaya Abubakar and the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, who himself had arrived Abuja from Benin the previous day amid much fanfare.
During the meeting, Oba Ewuare was reported to have demanded the return of the ancient Benin artifacts taken away by the British after the fall of the empire to British forces in 1897.
“Suffice to say that Nigerians in general and Benin people in particular will be most delighted to have your royal highness throw his royal weight behind our efforts to have some of our ancient artifacts that were taken in 1897 from the Royal Court of Benin returned to Benin to establish Oba Palace Museum for the promotion of tourism in Benin City, Edo State.”
The Bini empire was a civilization whose influence stretched, by some accounts, from present day Edo State to Lagos and beyond into Benin and Togo republics, versed in arts, craft, goldsmithing, ornaments and artifacts.
The British heir will be attempting peace building in a meeting scheduled for Jos, Plateau State for the north central zone which has seen savage violence, allegedly perpetrated mostly by Fulani nomads seeking grazing rights to land resources for their cattle in the rich savanna of the middle belt region of Nigeria. Security concerns, however, have had organizers shift the venue of the meeting from Jos to Abuja, the nations capital.
Day three: Thursday 8th November
Today, on the final day of the Royal visit to Nigeria, The Prince of Wales visited the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial in Abuja.
His Royal Highness laid a wreath at the memorial and an Imam and a Chaplain from the Nigerian Guards Brigade recited an Islamic and then a Christian prayer.
After the commemorations, The Prince met the Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff and the Chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as a number of guests
The Nigerian National Military Cemetery contains not only the Abuja Memorial erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission but also has memorials commemorating more recent conflicts.
The Prince of Wales then attended a Rural Livelihoods Engagement and joined a discussion on the challenges of poultry rearing in Nigeria and the production of a cereal crop, Fonio, locally known as Acha.
The Prince discussed also discussed WaterAid programmes with ChiChi Okoye, Country Director of WaterAid and her staff.
Finally, to end the visit to Nigeria and the Royal tour to West Africa, The Prince of Wales joined a Peacebuilding and Interfaith Engagement, chaired by The Deputy High Commissioner, Harriet Thompson.
During the engagement, His Royal Highness heard stories and experiences from youth peace ambassadors. A Youth Peace Camp is held 4 times a year bringing together 600 youths of diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds.
Today The Prince of Wales travelled to Lagos in Nigeria as he continued the Royal Tour of West Africa.
The Prince began the day at Lagos Naval Berths and was met on arrival by the commanding officer, Andrew Zidon, who trained at the Britannia Royal Naval College from 2002 to 2003.
The Prince met The British Military Training and Advisory Team, and Nigerians who are being trained in the Joint Maritime security training centre in Lagos before His Royal Highness watched a training exercise.
The Prince of Wales then attended an Accounting for Sustainability Roundtable and joined a discussion on how business can improve sustainability within their organisations and how challenges may be overcome.
Next, His Royal Highness met young entrepreneurs from the worlds of digital, music, film, fashion and social entrepreneurship at the British Council Festival before attending a reception for The Prince’s Trust International.
Day one: Tuesday 6th November
Today The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall arrived in Nigeria for a three-day visit that will conclude Their Royal Highnesses’s tour of West Africa.
After a private meeting with The President, The Prince of Wales attended a meeting with Traditional Rulers at the British High Commissioner’s Residence. Nigeria’s traditional rulers have their origins in the independent states and kingdoms that existed in Nigeria before the colonial period and The Prince met the most senior rulers from across Nigeria’s six geo-political zones.
Meanwhile The Duchess of Cornwall met children taking part in a literary workshop at the Salamander Café. The workshop was the first in a series of events to encourage children to participate in The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition.
Nigerian and British authors who are part of Abuja Literary Society were also at today’s literary workshop, and read out some of their work to The Duchess and guests. The Society is a highly regarded group comprising many well-known literary minds, including published authors like Chinere Obo Obasi, Denja Abdullahi, Theresa Ameh as well as amateur and budding writers.
HRH told the gathered group: “Women get together to discuss things that matter to them so I think especially here in Nigeria it is a fantastic place to start.”
In the evening, Their Royal Highnesses attended a reception at the British High Commissioner’s Residence.