There were the sounds of bells, whistles, drums and horns all across Accra when Prince Charles of Wales and his wife Camilla touched down at Kotoka International Airport on Friday. The visit solidified Ghana and the United Kingdom’s strong ties, and proved that the two nations are more than diplomatic allies, they’re friends.
But the relationship wasn’t always amicable. Initially, Fanti chiefs allowed British colonists to control parts of the country, previously called the Gold Coast. But mounting pressure from tribal chiefs in the 1940s to gain independence caused former President Kwame Nkrumah to form the Convention People’s Party in 1949. The country gained its independence eight years later.
Following the breakup, Queen Elizabeth came to Ghana in 1961 – a visit signalling that the two countries were ready to repair severed ties.
“I am not a film star,” the Queen said to then-UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan after receiving backlash for announcing her visit to Ghana. “I am the head of the Commonwealth — and I am paid to face any risks that may be involved.”
Queen Elizabeth and former President Kwame Nkrumah in 1961 during her trip to Ghana
Then in 1977, the Queen’s first born, Prince Charles, visited the country for the first time. According to him, it was a memorable experience that he and his wife look forward to reliving. They plan on “meeting as many people as possible during our forthcoming visit, bearing in mind the very special memories I have from 40 years ago to re-experiencing the irresistible attractions of highlife and afro-beat,” he said in a pre-recorded video released ahead of the visit.
Prince Charles’ visit to Ghana is the first since 1977.
“We know the relations between our two countries go back centuries,” said President Akufo-Addo. “Some of them were happy, some of them not so happy. But we are in the happier period now. So many of our values are influenced by British traditions and institutional arrangements and a lot of the people who are living in your place are doing well; they are well treated. It’s a relationship that we value.”
Their five-day visit will be jam-packed. On Saturday, the Prince and Duchess will visit Kumasi to meet His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Ashantehene, at the Manhyia Palace and will attend a traditional procession with the Ashantehene and local chiefs. Prince Charles also plans to meet with a number of British Ghanaians in the business, arts, culture and media sectors. Meanwhile, Camilla, who is President of the Women of the World Festival, will attend an event featuring Ghana’s top female leaders.
Read more: Royal visit confirms importance of Ghana-UK relations – Akufo-Addo
The Royal Highness’ visit to Ghana comes at an “opportune moment,” said British High Commissioner, H.E. Iain Walker. “The UK and Ghana’s shared history and common values form the basis of our enduring friendship. But it’s the many and varied links between our people’s which make our ties so unique.”
Ghana is the ninth country to enter into the Commonwealth, an intergovernmental organisation comprised of 53 member states that are mostly former territories of the British Empire.