'There can be no excuse': King Charles III on 'abhorrent' British colonial violence against Kenyans

King Charles acknowledges atrocities from Britain's colonial past, in a speech during a trip to Kenya with his wife Queen Camilla, as ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship reports

King Charles said there can be "no excuse" for the "abhorrent violence" inflicted by Britain on Kenyan Mau Mau fighters during the 1950s uprising while the country was under colonial rule.

At a state banquet in Nairobi, on Tuesday night, the King addressed dignitaries from the African nation in his first visit to the Commonwealth as Monarch.

He was widely expected to acknowledge the horrific violence which took place during Kenya's struggle for independence from British colonial rule in the 1950s - and his words were stronger than many anticipated. 

However, he did not explicitly apologise for Britain’s actions in its former colony, as many Kenyans wanted. 

During his speech, at the State House in Nairobi, the King said: "There were abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence committed against Kenyans as they waged… a painful struggle for independence and sovereignty – and for that, there can be no excuse.”

He went on: “In coming back to Kenya, it matters greatly to me that I should deepen my own understanding of these wrongs, and that I meet some of those whose lives and communities were so grievously affected.”

Britain's King Charles III, Queen Camilla and Kenyan President William Ruto, arrive for the State Banquet Credit: AP

During the 1950s, Kenyan freedom fighters were met with a brutal and violent response from the British-controlled administration, which saw concentration-style camps constructed and torture inflicted.

Thousands of Kenyans died after authorities carried out executions and detention without trial to stop the Mau Mau people.

Further thousands of Kenyans have since said they were beaten and sexually assaulted by those involved.

In response to the King's words, President William Ruto of Kenya also spoke very strongly of the “brutal” aggression, and he mentioned the need for further reparations.

The King and Queen arriving for a State Banquet in Nairobi tonight with President Ruto and the First Lady.

Mr Ruto said: “If colonialism was brutal and atrocious to African people, colonial reaction to African struggles for sovereignty and self-rule was monstrous in its cruelty.

"It culminated in the Emergency, which intensified the worst excesses of colonial impunity and the indiscriminate victimization of Africans.

"While there have been efforts to atone for the death, injury and suffering inflicted on Kenyan Africans by the colonial government, much remains to be done in order to achieve full reparations.”

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This week's four-day royal visit is to be full of symbolism, as it coincides with Kenya's 60th anniversary of independence.

Kenya also has personal significance to the British royal family.

Charles’ mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, learned she had become monarch while visiting a game reserve in Kenya in 1952, meaning her father had passed away.

The King referenced this in his speech at the state banquet, saying, "she arrived as princess but left as Queen."

He also noted an excerpt from her diary which said: "She did not want to miss a moment of Kenya's extraordinary landscapes".

It was also the country where the Prince of Wales proposed to his now-wife Kate Middleton.

Late on Monday, the King and Queen touched down in the capital, Nairobi, and were given a ceremonial welcome on Tuesday by President Ruto at State House.

Charles later planted an African fern tree seedling in its lawn.

The royal couple also visited the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at gardens named Uhuru, which is Swahili for freedom.

The King and Mr Ruto laid wreaths, then proceeded to the site of the declaration of Kenya’s independence in 1963.