State visit to South Africa – programme

From Wednesday 18 to Friday 20 October 2023, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander and Her Majesty Queen Máxima will pay a state visit to the Republic of South Africa at the invitation of President Cyril Ramaphosa. The King and Queen Máxima will be accompanied on their visit by Minister of Foreign Affairs Hanke Bruins Slot.

The state visit will focus on the excellent ties and equal partnership between the two countries. South Africa is one of the Netherlands’ most important African partners in the areas of economics, politics, culture, education and science. The two cooperate actively on solutions for a more just, inclusive and sustainable future. From the perspective of a shared history, they look forward today on an equal footing to a shared future. Key themes during the visit will be sustainable and inclusive growth, cultural cooperation, human rights and legal equality, and exchanges of knowledge and science. 
A knowledge mission headed by Minister of Education, Culture and Science Robbert Dijkgraaf will take place prior to and during the state visit. Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Piet Adema will head an economic mission focusing on future-proof farming and horticulture, green hydrogen and circular waste management. Before the official welcome ceremony, Ms Bruins Slot will attend a meeting of the South Africa –Netherlands Joint Commission for Cooperation. Minister of Defence Kajsa Ollongren will also attend some programme events.

Wednesday 18 October – Pretoria


Arrival at airport

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will be welcomed at Waterkloof air base in Pretoria.

Blesbokspruit Wetland Reserve

The King and Queen Máxima will visit the Blesbokspruit Wetland Reserve, where they will speak about the challenges South Africa faces with regard to water quality and availability. They will hear about developments in two major Dutch-South African water partnerships, the Blue Deal and Wetskills. With people involved locally, they will discuss lessons learned in the Dutch and South African water sectors. 

Apartheid Museum

The King and Queen Máxima will then visit the Apartheid Museum. A brief tour of the museum will focus on South Africa’s history of apartheid, and on the fight against injustice that resulted in its transition to a democratic society whose central tenets are equality before the law and access to justice. They will also speak with judges, activists and artists about the importance of legal equality and accessible justice, with a particular focus on protecting the rights of women and LGBTIQ+ people and the importance of international cooperation on inclusion and legal protection.


Innovation Village (Accelerating the green transition)

The Innovation Village will be a hub for members of the economic and knowledge missions and their local partners, South African businesses, organisations and institutes. 
The King and Queen Máxima will meet members of the economic mission, which is focusing on strengthening partnerships between South Africa and the Netherlands in the areas of green hydrogen, circular waste management and future-oriented agriculture and horticulture.
They will also meet members of the knowledge mission, the emphasis of which is on the link between education and the labour market, equal opportunities and the importance of vocational education for the green sectors.

Dialogue on alignment with labour market

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will speak with representatives of educational institutions, employers and businesses as well as students about South Africa’s high rate of youth unemployment and its shortage of well-trained, skilled workers. In both South Africa and the Netherlands, a shortage of skilled workers is a source of problems in society. The discussion will also address solutions for better aligning education and training with the labour market and creating equal opportunities for young people. 

Reception for the Dutch community

At the end of afternoon the King and Queen Máxima will meet Dutch nationals who live and/or work in South Africa during a reception at the ambassador’s residence in Pretoria.

Thursday 19 October – Pretoria and Johannesburg


Welcome ceremony

President Ramaphosa will welcome the King and Queen Máxima to the Union Buildings during an official welcome ceremony, after which they will have a private meeting. 

Delegation meeting

Together with the ministers accompanying them, the King and Queen Máxima will take part in a meeting with the South African president and ministers. 

Signing of Memorandum of Understanding 

After the delegation meeting, the King and Queen Máxima will attend the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between South Africa’s Minister for Higher Education and Training, Dr Bonginkosi Emmanuel Nzimande, and the Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Robbert Dijkgraaf, on stepping up cooperation in further education.

Statement to the media

President Ramaphosa and King Willem-Alexander will briefly address the media.

Government lunch at presidential residence

President Ramaphosa will host a private lunch for the King and Queen Máxima and the ministers accompanying them.


Freedom Park

In the afternoon the King and Queen Máxima will visit Freedom Park, which was created by former president Thabo Mbeki as a memorial to all the South Africans who dedicated their lives to the fight for freedom and dignity, including in the struggle to end apartheid and the struggle for liberation in South Africa. The King and Queen Máxima will walk along the Wall of Names commemorating South Africans who died fighting for their country’s freedom, and see the names of three Dutch nationals who also helped oppose apartheid. In recognition of all of these individuals, the King and Queen Máxima will lay a wreath at the eternal flame.

Finally, the King and Queen Máxima will visit an exhibition of work by two witnesses to the fight against apartheid, two photographers who are passing on their experience to a new, younger generation. The exhibition will also include work by members of this younger generation, who will speak with the King and Queen Máxima.

Return hospitality

To thank president Ramaphosa for his hospitality during the state visit, the King will host a cultural performance. In the State Theatre in Pretoria, Lloyds Company and Dutch musicians will perform their show ‘Unbreakable’ along with the South African dancers of the Soweto Skeleton Movers.



The King and Queen Máxima will fly to Cape Town in the evening.

Friday 20 October – Cape Town


Meeting with the Premier of Western Cape province

The Premier of Western Cape province, Alan Winde, and Cape Town mayor Geordin Gwyn Hill-Lewis will welcome the King and Queen Máxima to Cape Town. 

Shared past

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will reflect on the two countries’ shared past during a visit to the Iziko Slave Lodge. While there, they will watch and listen to various performances that bring the history of slavery to life through poetry, music and dance. 

Guga S’Thebe Cultural Centre

At the edge of Langa township is the Guga S’Thebe Cultural Centre. Here, the King and Queen Máxima will talk with young South Africans and representatives of civil society organisations about their experiences of combating gender-related violence, which South Africa and the Netherlands both grapple with. By sharing experiences and learning from each other, countries can work together to find solutions for this and other societal problems. The visit will close with a performance by local young people  on gender-related violence.


National Botanical Garden

In the afternoon, King Willem-Alexander will visit the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. He will speak with experts from the World Wide Fund for Nature and the South African National Biodiversity Institute on the importance of biodiversity in habitat and wildlife protection.


Queen Máxima will spend the afternoon at the HortiDemoCentre, a public-private Dutch-South African initiative in Stellenbosch, where she will speak with students and young farmers. The centre develops methods for producing healthier food using fewer resources. 

Reception for the Dutch community in Cape Town

The third and final day of the state visit will close with a reception for the Dutch community in Cape Town.

Government Information Service, no. 243