London: South African President Jacob Zuma
received a royal welcome on Wednesday as he began a state visit to
Britain with colour and pomp, although a row over his polygamy
threatened to cloud the trip from the start.
Queen Elizabeth II greeted Zuma on London`s Horse Guards
parade ground before accompanying him in a black-and-gold
horse-drawn carriage to Buckingham Palace, where he is staying
for the three-day trip.
In an indication of the importance attached to the visit,
Prime Minister Gordon Brown skipped his weekly grilling in
parliament to attend the ceremony, which launched a packed
agenda including a state banquet this evening.
Tomorrow, Zuma will hold talks with Brown in Downing
Street, expected to focus on Zimbabwe. His trip also includes
sporting events, ahead of the football World Cup in South
Africa, which starts in June.
Zuma, 67, left South Africa embroiled in a major scandal
over an out-of-wedlock daughter born in October to the
daughter of a top World Cup organiser.
She is the 20th child for the polygamist leader, whose
latest wife, Thobeka Madiba Zuma, is accompanying him on the
trip. In all, the president has had five wives, although one
died and he divorced another.