Cabinet minister defends lavish state banquet at time of austerity

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said the state visit by Cyril Ramaphosa will help boost links with South Africa.

A Cabinet minister has defended the lavish banquet laid on as part of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state visit to the UK at a time of hardship for millions of Britons.

Buckingham Palace guests dined on grilled brill – a delicate flat fish – followed by pheasant from the Windsor estate and, for dessert, iced vanilla parfait with caramelised apples.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said the visit will help boost trade and growing the economy is the prize which matters – “whether it’s pheasant on the plate or pie and mash”.

South African President State Visit to the UK
The Princess of Wales, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, King Charles and the Queen Consort, stand during the State Banquet held at Buckingham Palace (Aaron Chown/PA)

The King hosted the banquet, saying “welcome” in six languages spoken in South Africa to Mr Ramaphosa.

Strictly star Johannes Radebe, originally from South Africa, was among the 163 guests at the white-tie dinner, joining broadcaster Zeinab Badawi, interior designer Kelly Hoppen and endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh.

Mr Stride told LBC: “Right at the heart, actually, of our soft power, as it’s often called, is this ability to project our sense of history and pageant.”

South African President State Visit to the UK
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and his wife Susannah Cleverly during the State Banquet (Victoria Jones/PA)

Asked about the timing, with people struggling with the cost of living, Mr Stride said: “I would see it in terms of engaging with our most important trading partner on the continent of Africa, with whom we have very important ties of history and trade and economics.

“What really we want to come out of this is a stronger and healthier UK economy – and that benefits everybody.

“I think, whether it’s pheasant on the plate or pie and mash, I think if that can be achieved, then that’s the biggest prize.”

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News