King Charles displays chess set given to Duke of Edinburgh by Nelson Mandela

King Charles displayed ‘wonderful’ chess set given by Nelson Mandela to Prince Philip in 1996 during state visit

  • King Charles displayed a stunning chess set at Buckingham Palace last night
  • The game set was given to the Duke of Edinburgh by Nelson Mandela in 1996 
  • Features two tribes – the Zulus and the Ndebele – in place of traditional  pieces
  • King praised the set as ‘wonderful’ as he showed it off at Buckingham Palace  

King Charles displayed a stunning chess set given to Duke of Edinburgh by Nelson Mandela for 1996 visit as he welcomed the South African president to the UK yesterday.

Charles treated South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, whose state visit to the UK was in the planning before the Queen‘s death, to a private lunch at Buckingham Palace.

The monarch, alongside Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Duke of Gloucester, went on to host a small exhibition of South African artefacts from the Royal Collection in the Picture Gallery. 

Among the pieces was a stunning chess set given to the Duke of Edinburgh by President Mandela when he visited London in 1996, the first by a South African head of state. 

King Charles displayed a stunning chess set given to Duke of Edinburgh by Nelson Mandela for 1996 visit as he welcomed the South African president to the UK yesterday

King Charles displayed a stunning chess set given to Duke of Edinburgh by Nelson Mandela for 1996 visit as he welcomed the South African president to the UK yesterday

The Queen previously displayed the same set when South African President Jacob Zuma and his wife Thobeka Madiba Zuma visited in 2010

The Queen previously displayed the same set when South African President Jacob Zuma and his wife Thobeka Madiba Zuma visited in 2010 

The Duke of Edinburgh attended the President’s inauguration in 1994 in South Africa.

At the time, Prince Philip was given a bowl to mark his attendance of Mandela’s inauguration.

Two years later President Mandela paid a state visit to the United Kingdom and presented a number of medals to The Queen. 

It was during this event that Mandela gave Philip the game set.

In 1996, President Mandela paid a state visit to the United Kingdom and presented a number of medals to The Queen - as well as giving the family the chess set (pictured)

In 1996, President Mandela paid a state visit to the United Kingdom and presented a number of medals to The Queen – as well as giving the family the chess set (pictured)  

The chess set was last seen out on display in 2010, when the Queen hosted a state visit for then South African President Jacob Zuma and his wife Thobeka Madiba Zuma.

Mr Zuma presented the Queen with a chess set, only to discover that former South African President Nelson Mandela had beaten him to it by giving one to the Duke of Edinburgh years before. 

Spotting Mr Mandela’s hand-painted ceramic 32-piece game on display in the Palace Picture Gallery, a surprised Mr Zuma remarked: ‘Oh, that’s another set.’ 

The Queen picked up some of the pieces – shaped as warriors in Zulu and Ndebele costumes, huts and zebra heads – to allow Mr Zuma closer inspection of the present.

The gift was given to the Duke of Edinburgh when he attended Nelson Mandela's inauguration in 1994

The gift was given to the Duke of Edinburgh when he attended Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994 

Mr Zuma’s gift also featured Zulu warriors, as well as Xhosa ones, in indigenous attire, and was made of glass and pewter. 

Yesterday, in the Buckingham Palace Picture Gallery after lunch, Ramaphosa picked up a photograph of the late Queen side by side with Mr Mandela at the state banquet in the Palace in 1996, saying: ‘This lovely picture.’

The King remarked ‘you were lucky to have known both’ with the president agreeing.

Charles highlighted the chess set Mr Mandela gave to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1996, with the King saying: ‘This is rather wonderful, isn’t it?’ 

The chess set was last seen out on display in 2010, when the Queen hosted a state visit for then South African President Jacob Zuma and his wife Thobeka Madiba Zuma

The chess set was last seen out on display in 2010, when the Queen hosted a state visit for then South African President Jacob Zuma and his wife Thobeka Madiba Zuma

The Queen picked up some of the pieces - shaped as warriors in Zulu and Ndebele costumes, huts and zebra heads - to allow Mr Zuma closer inspection of the present (pictured)

The Queen picked up some of the pieces – shaped as warriors in Zulu and Ndebele costumes, huts and zebra heads – to allow Mr Zuma closer inspection of the present (pictured) 

The hand-painted ceramic game features pieces shaped as warriors in Zulu and Ndebele costumes, huts and zebra heads.

The Queen Consort picked up some of the pieces for a closer look.    

As the pair came across a photograph of Charles with the Spice Girls in South Africa in 1997, the president said: ‘There you are’, with Charles adding with a smile: ‘There they are.’ 

The Prince of Wales later spotted the photo, saying with a grin to his accompanying guests: ‘My father in South Africa … the Spice Girls.’

Charles highlighted the chess set Mr Mandela gave to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1996 during an event yesterday, with the King saying: 'This is rather wonderful, isn't it?'

Charles highlighted the chess set Mr Mandela gave to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1996 during an event yesterday, with the King saying: ‘This is rather wonderful, isn’t it?’

The hand-painted ceramic game features pieces shaped as warriors in Zulu and Ndebele costumes, huts and zebra heads

The hand-painted ceramic game features pieces shaped as warriors in Zulu and Ndebele costumes, huts and zebra heads

The gift set was displayed during an exhibition yesterday at Buckingham Palace as part of a state visit

The gift set was displayed during an exhibition yesterday at Buckingham Palace as part of a state visit 

Among the host of items was a copy of the historic speech the late Queen delivered on her 21st birthday in Cape Town, with Mr Ramaphosa holding up the laminated document to read it. 

Princess Elizabeth marking her coming of age in 1947 with the speech in which she pledged to dedicate her ‘whole life whether it be long or short’ to service of the Commonwealth.

The president said the words ‘Welcome Back’ out loud with a smile as he looked at Elizabeth II’s message to Nelson Mandela upon South Africa re-joining the Commonwealth in 1994. 

The congratulatory phrase featured in the message from the late Queen. Charles also showed the president a letter written by the Queen to President Mandela in 1995, adding: ‘Here’s a copy of the letter’.

Charles appeared particularly taken with the chess set, and called it 'wonderful' as he discussed it with the President

Charles appeared particularly taken with the chess set, and called it ‘wonderful’ as he discussed it with the President 

Meanwhile the Prince and Princess of Wales also stopped to take a look at the chess set during the event

Meanwhile the Prince and Princess of Wales also stopped to take a look at the chess set during the event 

Mr Ramaphosa remarked: ‘Oh yes, yes 1995.’

Buckingham Palace heralded the first state visit of the new King’s reign yesterday with a dazzling display of pomp and pageantry.

President Ramaphosa was greeted by more than 1,000 soldiers, 230 horses, seven military bands and two state coaches.

Both Their Majesties, the King and Queen Consort, were out on Horse Guards Parade to greet their guest at the start of his two-day official visit to the UK.

He was escorted by the Prince and Princess of Wales – playing their most prominent role so far in a state event – who earlier in the day met with the president at his London hotel.

Buckingham Palace is still undergoing a massive refurbishment programme and cannot host visitors overnight.

It is the first state visit since President Trump in 2019, and sources said there was much ‘excitement and anticipation’ as the palace prepared to host such a sumptuous occasion.

State visits – which are undertaken at the request of the Government – are seen as a significant tool in building closer ties and friendship between the UK and foreign powers, and the Royal Family play a unique role in making them happen.

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