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Charles Hears Rwanda Genocide Firsthand at Summit

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda June 22, 2022.

Britain's Prince Charles on Wednesday heard harrowing testimony of the genocide in Rwanda from survivors and perpetrators of the 1994 killings during the first visit to the country by a British royal.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla arrived in Kigali late Tuesday for the 54-nation Commonwealth Summit gathering that was twice postponed by Covid and takes place amid outrage over Britain's migrant deal with Rwanda.

The royal couple began their visit with a somber tour of the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the final resting place for over 250,000 victims of the massacres nearly three decades ago.

Housing skulls, bone fragments and shreds of clothing, the memorial is a testimony to the horrors of the genocide and a customary stop for foreign dignitaries visiting Rwanda.

The royals laid a wreath of white flowers and paused in silent tribute, before viewing a collection of photographs of victims and their possessions.

Prince Charles Meets Rwandan Genocide Survivors
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They also spoke with survivors of the genocide in which some 800,000 mainly Tutsi people were murdered by Hutu extremist forces between April and July 1994.

The Prince of Wales also met face-to-face with President Paul Kagame, whose pact to resettle asylum seekers deported from the UK reportedly attracted strong disapproval from the British heir to the throne.

Later Wednesday they visited a village outside Kigali where genocide perpetrators and survivors live side by side -- sometimes even marrying -- and heard stories of loss and reconciliation.

They also toured a nearby church-turned-memorial where tens of thousands were slaughtered and skulls unearthed from mass graves are kept on grim display.

"In special remembrance," the prince wrote in a visitor book, according to photographs of the visit published by Rwandan state media.

Charles is representing Queen Elizabeth II in Kigali at a Commonwealth summit she has championed since assuming the throne in 1952, as the organization faces questions over its future role and relevance.