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Wednesday, November 10, 1999 Published at 09:39 GMT

World: Africa

Queen welcomed to South Africa

The Queen inspected a presidential guard of honour

The Queen has been welcomed by president Thabo Mbeki as she begins a five-day state visit to South Africa.

The BBC's Clive Myrie: "The 160 year old controversy won't be resolved any time soon"
The Queen received a 21-gun salute before exchanging a few words with the South African president and inspecting a guard of honour.

But noticeably absent from the ceremony was a threatened protest demonstration by Afrikaners, who have been demanding an apology from the Queen for atrocities carried out by the British during the turn-of-the-century Boer War.

The Queen is expected to express sorrow over the war, but not issue an official apology, at a state banquet on Wednesday.

The right-wing Herstigte Nasionale Party (HNP) had called on supporters to protest at Wednesday's opening ceremony.

However, the ceremony passed off without incident.

Newspaper controversy

After a lunch with president Mbeki, the Queen is to meet former president Nelson Mandela.

On Thursday, she will visit the impoverished township of Alexandra, in Johannesburg.

She will also lay a wreath at a war memorial, while the Duke of Edinburgh is scheduled to visit Spion Kop, the scene of a famous Boer War battle, on Saturday.

The Queen's visit to South Africa is the latest leg in the couple's African tour, and follows their stay in Ghana earlier this week.

Despite avoiding protests, there was controversy awaiting the Royals, with the Cape Times newspaper carrying a misleading story - later corrected - that the Duchess of York was in Cape Town telling stories of "tussles" with Buckingham Palace.

The paper later said the Queen's former daughter-in-law had been misquoted.

The story said the Duchess's friend and media backer Tony O'Reilly had received letters "from the monarchy, saying that if he backed me (the Duchess), then he would no longer be welcome in the British establishment".

The newspaper clarified the report, saying the Duchess was joking when she told Mr O'Reilly if he supported her, he would get complaining letters from Palace courtiers.

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