On Tuesday, 21st June, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall arrived in Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). CHOGM 2022 brings together the leaders of the 54 Commonwealth countries to reaffirm common values and agree on policies to improve the lives of its 2.5 billion citizens.
Kigali Genocide Memorial
Their Royal Highnesses’ first visit in Rwanda was to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where they received a tour of the Memorial’s exhibits, including personal effects and photographs of the victims of the Genocide.
Outside, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall were shown the mass graves beside the Wall of Names, whilst Members of the Republican Guard performed the Last Post and laid a on behalf of Their Royal Highnesses.
The Kigali Genocide Memorial is the final resting place for more than 250,000 victims of the 1994 Genocide and was officially opened in 2004, to mark the tenth commemoration of the Genocide.
The centre serves as a place where survivors can grieve for and remember their lost loved ones. It also serves as a museum where both local and international visitors can learn about the history and consequences of the Genocide.
Meeting with the President and First Lady
Their Royal Highnesses then travelled to the Office of the President, where they were welcomed by a Guard of Honour from the Republic Guard, before being received on the steps by The President of the Republic of Rwanda, His Excellency Paul Kagame and The First Lady of the Republic of Rwanda, Her Excellency Jeannette Kagame.
Nyamata Church Genocide Memorial
Following meetings at the Office of the President, The Prince of Wales visited the Nyamata Church Genocide Memorial, one of Rwanda’s six National Genocide Memorials. Having looked inside the church to observe the clothing and personal effects of the victims, The Prince of Wales moved outside to lay a wreath on the mass grave, before pausing for a moment of reflection and signing the visitors book.
Mbyo Reconciliation Village
After visiting the Nyamata Church Genocide Memorial, The Prince travelled to the Mbyo Reconciliation Village, where he was welcomed by civic leaders, and traditional singing and dancing by the villagers. His Royal Highness then met with six Genocide survivors and perpetrators, who now live together in the village and listened to a testimony from both a survivor and perpetrator.
The Mbyo Reconciliation Village is one of eight similar reconciliation villages in Rwanda, where survivors and perpetrators of the Genocide against the Tutsi live alongside each other. The Perpetrators re-integrate into society by publicly apologizing for their crimes and the survivors profess their forgiveness.
Albertine Rift Conservation Society (A.R.C.O.S.) agroforestry site
Concluding day one, The Prince of Wales visited the Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS) agroforestry site. Here, His Royal Highness walked through the tree nursery and learnt more about the work ARCOS is doing to enhance biodiversity conservation and the sustainable management of natural resources.
The Prince of Wales then continued towards the bank of the wetland, where His Royal Highness witnessed a solar-powered irrigation system and heard about efforts to conserve the wetland through changes to cultivation practices.
Commonwealth Business Forum Exhibition
On the second day of Their Royal Highnesses’ visit to Rwanda, The Prince of Wales attended the Commonwealth Business Forum Exhibition and spent time with a wide range of businesses who were exhibiting and taking part.
The Commonwealth Business Forum 2022 was a truly global event, providing a valuable opportunity for a high-level dialogue on trade and investment between Presidents, Prime Ministers, senior Ministers and officials alongside private sector leaders from across the Commonwealth and beyond.
The Forum addressed the CHOGM theme of ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’, with a focus on rebuilding and reinvigorating the global economy post COVID-19.
Visit to Kigali Public Library
The Duchess of Cornwall visited Kigali Public Library where she was welcomed by children from local schools, before learning more about Book Aid International’s work in Rwanda. Her Royal Highness then proceeded to Nabu’s “Creative Lab” for illustrators, where she met with children’s book illustrators, followed by 'Children’s Corner', where she listened to a child read a Rwandan story aloud. Her Royal Highness also presented a collection of books as a donation to the library. To conclude her trip to the library, Her Royal Highness and The First Lady of the Republic of Rwanda met four Gold Finalist Award Winners from the 2021 Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition – which attracted 2,395 entries from Rwanda alone.
A visit to the Integrated Polytechnic Regional College with Prince’s Trust International
During his visit to the Integrated Polytechnic Regional College, The Prince of Wales, was shown an exhibit illustrating the work and history of the college, before visiting a water treatment laboratory. His Royal Highness then met Prince’s Trust International delivery partners and beneficiaries from Rwanda and across the Commonwealth.
Violence Against Women and Girls event at the Kigali Convention Centre
Following a speech from The First Lady and a video entitled ‘Join the Chorus’ from the ‘Commonwealth Says NO MORE’ campaign; The Duchess of Cornwall spoke to the assembled audience on the subject of violence against women and girls. This speech built upon her continued work of supporting domestic abuse charities and the work they do to support victims and survivors, both in the UK and overseas.
In the strength of our unity, we, the women and men of the Commonwealth, stand with victims and survivors, who, despite the temptation to hide away in silence, speak up so that others know they aren’t alone – whether in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Pacific or the Caribbean and Americas. In so doing, we have the opportunity to end gender-based violence and those laws and practices that discriminate against women.
Umusambi Village is Kigali’s first and only wildlife sanctuary, it is situated on a rehabilitated wetland area on the outskirts of the city, and is operated by the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association. ‘Umusambi’ is the Kinyarwanda word for the endangered ‘Grey Crested Crane’ species, 50 of which now live in the village, having been saved from the illegal wildlife trade.
His Royal Highness learnt more about the work of the Village and how they are conserving and restoring the wetland before being planting an indigenous Cordia Africana tree and visiting the butterfly house to learn about the Village’s new butterfly project.
Sustainable Markets Leader-Level Roundtable
Joined by The President of Rwanda, His Excellency Mr. Paul Kagame, The Prince of Wales met with Commonwealth Heads of Government, CEOs from His Royal Highness’s Sustainable Markets Initiative and other senior leaders attending the Commonwealth Business Forum. The discussion covered the major issues affecting the Commonwealth and encouraged increased collaboration between Government and the private sector to deliver practical solutions to address these issues.
If we can commit to being bold in our ambition – but more importantly in our action – the Commonwealth, as one of the world largest ‘common markets’ has a real opportunity to lead the world in the right direction.
Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases
The Prince of Wales, accompanied by President Kagame and other Commonwealth Heads of Government, were greeted by Dr. Daniel Ngamije Minister of Health and the Chief Executive of Malaria No More-UK, Mr James Whiting. His Royal Highness then joined the President to meet with dignitaries and stakeholders. In the auditorium, His Royal Highness then said a few words before meeting with some of the experts working to combat malaria.
Kigali Fashion Week
For their final visit of the day, Their Royal Highnesses attended Kigali Fashion Week, where they met with attendees and models, before taking their seats to enjoy the fashion show.
The fashion show brought together emerging and established fashion designers and models, representing the five regions of the Commonwealth, to demonstrate the positive impact of creative industries in development, sustainability, and in promoting synergies and exchanges within the Commonwealth family.
CHOGM Opening Ceremony
On behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall attended the CHOGM Opening Ceremony. Following two cultural performances from local young people, The Prince of Wales took to the stage to say a few words.
I treasure the friendships we have built over these past seventy years, and look forward to their deepening in the years ahead. As we build back from the pandemic that has devastated so many lives; as we respond to climate change and biodiversity loss that threatens our very existence; and as we see lives destroyed by the unattenuated aggression of violent forces… such friendships are more important than ever.
Before departure, His Royal Highness took part in an official photograph with Commonwealth Heads of Government.