The UK’s King Charles III and his wife Queen Camilla will make a four-day state visit to Kenya from the end of this month, Buckingham Palace announced on Wednesday. Kenyan President William Ruto invited the royal couple for the visit, which comes as the African nation prepares to celebrate 60 years of independence from Britain in December.
“The King and Queen will undertake a State Visit to Kenya, from Tuesday 31st October to Friday 3rd November 2023, to celebrate the warm relationship between the two countries and the strong and dynamic partnership they continue to forge,” said the palace.
“The King and Queen will visit Nairobi City County, Mombasa County and surrounding areas,” said the palace.
It will be Charles III’s first visit to a Commonwealth nation since becoming monarch last September. The programme will reflect how the two countries are working together on a range of issues, the statement added.
These include working “to boost prosperity, tackle climate change, promote youth opportunity and employment, advance sustainable development and create a more stable and secure region”, it said.
The king will meet members of the Kenyan government, UN staff, faith leaders, young people and Kenyan Marines training with UK Royal Marines and will also attend an event to celebrate Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai.
Charles will also tackle “the more painful aspects” of the relationship, looking at the period of British colonial rule, which ended in 1963.
This will include exploring the “Emergency” of 1952-1960, when a state of emergency was declared due to the guerrilla campaign against European settlers by elements of the Kenyan Kikuyu tribe, known as the Mau Mau.
“His Majesty will take time during the visit to deepen his understanding of the wrongs suffered in this period by the people of Kenya,” said the palace.
About 10,000 people were killed during the suppression of the uprising and as a result, the royal visit is likely to be greeted with mixed emotions.
After a court case lasting several years, Britain agreed in 2013 to compensate more than 5,000 Kenyans who had suffered abuse during the revolt, in a deal worth nearly 20 million pounds (almost $25-million at today’s exchange rates).
Another lingering source of tension is the presence of British troops in Kenya. In August, the Kenyan parliament launched an inquiry into the activities of the British army, which has a base on the outskirts of the town of Nanyuki, about 200 kilometres north of Nairobi.
The most notorious case is the death in 2012 of a young Kenyan mother allegedly murdered by a British soldier. Charles has made three previous official visits to Kenya, in 1971, 1978 and 1987, and both the king and queen have also visited the country privately.
Kenya has a special significance for the royal family, being the country where the historic reign of Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II began. She was visiting the country when her father King George VI died in 1952. Kenya was the first stop on Elizabeth’s tour of the Commonwealth that she had embarked upon with her husband, Prince Philip, in place of her ill father.
And in 2010, Charles’ elder son Prince William proposed to his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton while staying in Kenya.
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