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Charles and Camilla to be first royals to visit Rwanda when Commonwealth governments meet this month

Prince Charles and Camilla will become the first royals to visit Rwanda when the prince replaces his mother the Queen – the head of the Commonwealth – for a summit of African leaders later this month.

Prime Ministers and Presidents of the Family of Nations will gather in Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), where Charles will spend his first day meeting survivors and perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.

The Prince of Wales praised the Commonwealth’s potential to make a difference and said he had learned much over the years “from the ideas, concerns and aspirations that people across the Commonwealth have so generously shared.”

“I have been struck again and again by how much common thread there is between us,” said the prince.

“Too many Commonwealth members are among the most climate-sensitive countries in the world.

“As two in three Commonwealth citizens are under 30, there is an urgent need to find opportunities for our young people.

“By taking shared responsibility to solve these kinds of problems, the Commonwealth has the potential to make a profound difference in the lives of its citizens – and thereby be an unparalleled force for good in our world.”

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (L) and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (R) will become the first royals to visit Rwanda when the prince replaces his mother the Queen - the head of the Commonwealth - for a summit of African leaders later this month

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (L) and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (R) will become the first royals to visit Rwanda when the prince replaces his mother the Queen – the head of the Commonwealth – for a summit of African leaders later this month

Charles will spend his first day meeting survivors and perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.  Pictured: A survivor with a family photo of herself and her husband who disappeared during a memorial service honoring the victims of the Rwandan genocide

Charles will spend his first day meeting survivors and perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. Pictured: A survivor with a family photo of herself and her husband who disappeared during a memorial service honoring the victims of the Rwandan genocide

The future king added how much he and Camilla were looking forward to meeting Commonwealth leaders and visiting Rwanda for the first time.

In 1994, hundreds of thousands of members of the Tutsi community in Rwanda were massacred by ethnic Hutu extremists.

The issue of genocide and reconciliation would be very close to the Prince’s heart and he will visit a targeted village.

Chris Fitzgerald, the Prince’s Deputy Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, said: ‘At the invitation of the Government of Rwanda, their Royal Highnesses will also pay a bilateral visit to Rwanda.

This will be the first royal visit to Rwanda, one of the world’s minority countries that has not yet been visited by Her Majesty the Queen.

The visit of ‘Their Royal Highnesses’ provides an opportunity to learn about Rwanda’s journey to reflect, rebuild and make progress after the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi.

“They will begin with a visit to Rwanda’s National Genocide Memorial and Museum, where they will lay a wreath, followed by meeting and listening to survivors.

“Later that day, His Royal Highness will travel to a memorial site and reconciliation village where he will meet perpetrators and survivors living side by side to hear about their experiences of the genocide and the arduous process of reconciliation.”

Charles has been encouraged by former Rwandan footballer Eric Murangwa to visit a church outside the Rwandan capital where the remains of tens of thousands of genocide victims are buried.

Rwandan genocide survivor Eric Murangwa talks with young Rwandans.

Rwandan genocide survivor Eric Murangwa talks with young Rwandans.

In 1994, hundreds of thousands of members of the Tutsi community in Rwanda were massacred by ethnic Hutu extremists.  Charles has been encouraged by Murangwa to visit a church outside the Rwandan capital where the remains of tens of thousands of genocide victims are buried

In 1994, hundreds of thousands of members of the Tutsi community in Rwanda were massacred by ethnic Hutu extremists. Charles has been encouraged by Murangwa to visit a church outside the Rwandan capital where the remains of tens of thousands of genocide victims are buried

Murangwa was protected from the killings by teammates, and Charles made him an MBE in recognition of his efforts to raise awareness of the Tutsi genocide.

He is the founder of the organization Football for Hope, Peace and Unity.

In April, Murangwa was invited to watch the prince plant a tree at Dumfries House to commemorate the victims of the genocide.

CHOGM will take place in Kigali during the week of June 20, after being postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Charles last represented the Queen at the 2013 Sri Lanka event – a move interpreted as preparing for his future role as monarch – and in 2018 he was named the monarch’s designated successor as head of the Commonwealth.

The event, usually held in a different country every two years, brings together leaders from the 54 Commonwealth countries.

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