President Park receives royal welcome at Buckingham Palace

November 7, 2013

 

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, middle, and husband the Duke of Edinburgh, right, welcomes the South Korean President Park Geun-hye. (Yonhap)

By Chang Jae-soon

LONDON (Yonhap) – South Korean President Park Geun-hye received an elaborate royal welcome at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday as she officially began a state visit aimed mainly at enhancing economic and financial cooperation with Britain.

President Park’s arrival in London Monday night marked the second-ever state visit to Britain by a South Korean president. The late President Roh Moo-hyun made the first in 2004.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, left, pose for a photograph with Korean President Park Geun-hye prior to attending a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, London, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. (Yonhap)

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, left, pose for a photograph with Korean President Park Geun-hye prior to attending a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, London, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. (Yonhap)

Britain invites only two foreign leaders for state visits each year – one in the first half and the other in the second half, officials said.

Earlier this year, United Arab Emirates President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan made the other state visit of the year. Only 59 countries have been invited for state visits in the 61 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Only two U.S. presidents — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — have made the visit.

Park’s four-day trip reflects the friendship between South Korea and Britain, because it is unusual for the European nation to invite two leaders from the same country for state visits in less than 10 years, officials said.

The welcome ceremony began with an inspection of a 100-member honor guard at the Horse Guards square, about 1 km from Buckingham Palace. During the inspection, a ceremonial cannon sounded 41 blasts, and the Royal Brass Band played music.

Park moved from her hotel to the venue in a car with Prince Andrew, the second son of the queen. After the honor guard inspection, Park, the queen and her husband, Prince Philip – known as the Duke of Edinburgh – moved to Buckingham Palace in the “Australian State Coach,” a royal carriage drawn by six white horses.

In the case of a leader with a spouse, the queen and the leader would ride in a carriage, while Prince Philip and the spouse would ride in a separate carriage. But as Park is unmarried, the three rode together, officials said. Members of Park’s official entourage also followed suit in carriages.

Officials said the two sides plan to sign a string of memorandums of understanding on the sidelines of Park’s visit. Many of them will be about bolstering financial cooperation between the two countries.

London is the second leg of Park’s three-nation European trip, which already took her to France for summit talks with French President Francois Hollande. After London, she plans to visit Belgium for two days.

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