Is Rwanda in the Commonwealth? Why Charles and Camilla are in Kigali for meeting as deportations row continues

Prince Charles is set to meet Boris Johnson, after he called the Government’s Rwanda deportation plan “appaling” - but the Prime Minister said it was “sensible”

The Prince of Wales and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall are in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Charles is representing his mother Queen Elizabeth II, who is the head of the Commonwealth, at the gathering of presidents and prime ministers.

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The visit has been overshadowed by public outcry over the Government’s plan to send people seeking refuge in the UK to Rwanda, a policy Prince Charles has called “appalling”.

The heir to the throne is set to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has called the plan “sensible”, during the trip as he has also travelled to the country for the meeting.

So, where is Rwanda, is it the Commonwealth, why are the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visiting and what exactly have Prince Charles and Boris Johnson each said about the Rwanda deportation plan?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrive to attend the The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on June 21, 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda.

Where is Rwanda?

Rwanda, officially the Republic of Rwanda, is a country in east-central Africa.

Its neighbours are Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Known as the land of a thousand hills, Rwanda is mountainous, with grassy uplands, steep hills and deep valleys.

Is Rwanda in the Commonwealth?

Rwanda is a Commonwealth country.

The nation is a relatively new member of the Commonwealth and voluntarily joined the organisation in 2009.

Rwanda became the 54th nation to join the Commonwealth at the 2009 CHOGM.

Why are Prince Charles and Camilla visiting?

Charles and Camilla are in the capital of Rwanda, Kigali, aboard the ministerial jet RAF voyager.

They were greeted by a small group of dignitaries including the UK’s high commissioner to Rwanda Omar Daair, Rwanda’s high commissioner to the UK Johnston Busingye, CHOGM special advisor Yamina Karitanyi and the Prime Minister’s special representative on the Commonwealth Lord Ahmad.

Ahead of Chogm, Prince Wales said the Commonwealth had the potential to make a difference on issues like climate change or providing opportunities for young people.

He said: “Taking shared responsibility to solve problems like these means the Commonwealth has the potential to make a profound difference in the lives of its citizens – and, in so doing, to be an unparalleled force for good in our world.”

The trip is the first royal visit to Rwanda, as it is one of a minority of the world’s nations the Queen has not visited.

What will Charles and Camilla do while they are visiting?

Prince Charles, who is the heir to the throne, carried out a full day of engagements on Wednesday 22 June.

He met survivors and perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when hundreds of thousands of members of the Tutsi community were slaughtered in Rwanda by ethnic Hutu extremists.

The issue of genocide and reconciliation is said to be very close to the prince’s heart and he will visit a village that was targeted.

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

Mr Murangwa was sheltered from the killings by his teammates, and the future king made him an MBE in recognition of his efforts to raise awareness of the genocide against the Tutsi.

On Friday 24 June, The Prince of Wales is set to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who also travelled to the east African country for CHOGM 2022.

Clarence House said the pair would meet for a “cup of tea and catch-up” on Friday morning.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said the meeting would be “informal with no set agenda”.

What is the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting?

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

It is hosted by different member countries on a rotating basis. Since 1971, a total of 24 meetings have been held.

Commonwealth leaders travel to the host country during each meeting to reaffirm their common values and agree actions and policies to improve the lives of all their citizens.

This year’s meeting is the first to take place since 2018, as it has been postponed by the Covid 19 pandemic.

It began on Monday 20 June and will end on Sunday 26 June.

The official opening of CHOGM takes place on Friday 24 June and is followed by the main high-level meetings of Heads on Friday 24 to Saturday 25 June.

There are also four Forums, ministerial meetings, side events and other activities.

What did Prince Charles say about the Rwanda deportation plan?

The Times newspaper said a source had heard Charles express opposition to the policy several times in private, and that he was “more than disappointed” by it.

They were cited as saying: “He said he thinks the Government’s whole approach is appalling. It was clear he was not impressed with the Government’s direction of travel.”

Clarence House refused to comment on “supposed anonymous private conversations” with the prince, but stressed that he remains “politically neutral”.

What has Boris Johnson said about the Rwanda deportation plan?

The Prime Minister has said he believes the policy is “sensible [and] measured.”

Speaking before boarding a plane to Rwanda on the evening of 22 June, he said: “Clearly I’m going to Rwanda and [this is] an opportunity to for us all to see the country with whom we now have this very important economic and migration partnership.

“And perhaps to help others to shed some of those condescending attitudes towards Rwanda and how that how that partnership might work.”

Asked if Prince Charles is one of those condescending people, he said: “I can’t confirm that. What I can say is that I think that the policy is sensible, measured, and it’s a plan to deal with the grotesque abuse of innocent people crossing the Channel.”