The Prince of Wales has begun the first full day of his west African tour by highlighting the “important milestone” taken by Gambians in turning their backs on “22 years of autocratic rule”.
Charles’ comment came during a welcoming ceremony attended by Gambia’s president Adama Barrow, whose shock election victory in 2016 brought an end to the authoritarian regime of former leader Yahya Jammeh.
The heir to the throne and the Duchess of Cornwall had a busy day in Gambia where highlights included the prince’s visit to the Gambian Armed Forces Training School while his wife attended a Commonwealth Big Lunch at the High Commissioner’s residence.
Speaking in McCarthy Square, in the capital Banjul, where officials and schoolchildren had gathered to welcome their royal guests, the heir to the throne said: “I was delighted to join Her Majesty the Queen in welcoming you, Mr President, to London in April this year for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and, in so doing, to welcome all Gambians back into the Commonwealth.
“It was, if I may say so, an important milestone on the new road that the Gambia has chosen in turning your back on 22 years of autocratic rule in order to embrace a new beginning.
“Today, the United Kingdom and the Gambia can once again work together to defend our shared Commonwealth values and to promote democracy, human rights, tolerance and the rule of law.
“So, too, can we commit ourselves, together, to addressing with all urgency some of the most pressing challenges facing our world, such as climate change, resource depletion, youth unemployment and rapid urbanisation, and to do so by harnessing the remarkable professional expertise and experience upon which the Commonwealth and her member states can draw.”
Later Charles and Camilla will attend a state dinner held in their honour.
The royal tour will also see the prince and his wife visit Ghana and Nigeria.
The couple’s trip comes hard on the heels of the Prime Minister’s high-profile visit to the continent just a few months ago.
Theresa May made a three-nation trade mission to Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria during August and September, in an attempt to bolster Britain’s post-Brexit fortunes.