Charles and Camilla to recognise 'painful aspects' of shared UK-Kenya history on state visit

Buckingham Palace has announced the King and Queen will complete a State Visit to Kenya at the end of October. Credit: AP

Kenya will become the first Commonwealth country to be visited by King Charles and Queen Camilla.

Buckingham Palace has announced the King and Queen will complete a state visit to the East African country at the end of this month.

It comes at a time when Kenya is preparing to mark the 60th anniversary of independence when Britain formally handed over its then colony in 1963.

The official tour - the first to Africa and the first to a member of the Commonwealth for Charles as Monarch - will take the King and Queen to the capital, Nairobi, and the port city of Mombasa.

The King’s Deputy Private Secretary, Chris Fitzgerald, said: “His Majesty’s first visit to a Commonwealth nation as King is therefore to the country in which Queen Elizabeth II’s reign began, having acceded to the throne in Kenya in February 1952.“

Charles and Camilla visited France on a delayed state visit in September. Credit: AP

The late Queen was famously on a royal tour in Kenya with Prince Philip, at the Treetops resort, when she was told of her father’s death in February 1952.

It was the country in which she arrived as Princess Elizabeth and departed as Queen Elizabeth II.

However, the current Monarch won’t visit the Treetops location in the Aberdare National Park on this trip and palace aides said there were too many other engagements they wanted to complete on this four-day visit.

A senior Foreign Office official said at the time of the 60th anniversary of independence, Kenya is an “anchor of stability” in the region.

The King and Queen will support the country’s initiatives to tackle climate change and sustainable growth, they will see Kenya’s thriving tech sector, and give a boost to the growing tourism industry, which accounts for 10% of the country’s GDP. 

As well as promoting the close links between the UK and Kenya on trade and in tackling climate change, the visit will also reflect on some of the darker periods of Britain’s colonial rule in the country. 

Charles, the late Queen and Prince Louis and Kate on the Palace balcony during the Platinum Jubilee Credit: Chris Jackson/PA

Mr Fitzgerald said: “The visit will also acknowledge the more painful aspects of the UK and Kenya’s shared history”, including he said the “Emergency” period from 1952-1960.

The “Emergency” was a time in the 1950s when Britain tried to suppress an uprising against colonial rule.

Kenya had been part of the British Empire from 1886 when it was known as British East Africa.

As in many of its colonies in the late 19th century, the British settlers took land by force and made many of the native population work in forced labour.

In the early 1950s, the Mau Mau uprising - a movement formed by mostly Kikuyu people - was a violent campaign, to push for political representation for native Kenyans and freedom from British colonial domination.

The initial attacks by Mau Mau fighters were brutal, particularly on civilians who were sympathetic to the British. 

The numbers of those who died are officially recorded as 11,000 but most historians think the actual number of those killed during the Emergency is considerably higher.

A forced resettlement programme into what the colonisers called ‘protected villages’ has been widely compared by many historians to concentration camps with barbed wire perimeter fences and watch towers.

A landmark legal case concluded in 2012, after years of feet dragging by the Foreign Office in London, saw the British government accept that prisoners in Kenya had suffered “torture and ill treatment” in the village camps at the hands of the British colonisers and those working for them.

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