King Charles meets one of world's oldest veterans, believed to be 117 years old, on Kenya trip

King Charles presents a medal to Samweli Mburia. Credit: PA

The King has presented medals to a Kenyan believed to be one of the world’s oldest surviving Second World War veterans after he lost his military honours.

Charles handed the five medals to former corporal Samweli Mburia, who is claimed to be 117 years old, during a poignant ceremony where other old soldiers who fought for Britain against Hitler’s regime also received replacements of their honours.

When told of Mr Mburia's great age, the King said: “I think you must have been living on wild honey and locusts.”

Many Kenyans who served with the British threw away their medals during the Mau Mau uprising against colonial rule in the 1950s, for fear of being accused of being British collaborators.

Charles shook the hand of the elderly veteran and thanked him for his service and lighted the mood by asking: “I hope all the right ones are there.”

Specialist medal auctioneers Spink sourced the original medals – 1939-1945 Star, Africa Star, Burma Star, Defence Medal, War Medal – for Mr Mburia who served in Egypt, Abyssinia and Burma with the Royal Engineers.

The presentation ceremony was held at a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in Nairobi where Charles and Camilla attended a short act of remembrance with the King laying a wreath.

At one point Charles tripped on one of the many large squares of artificial grass covering the site, as there had been persistent rain over the past few days, but quickly steadied himself.

The veteran’s daughter Idah Kagweni, 54, said her father’s medals were lost and described the mood among Kenya’s ex-military as the struggle to end British rule became violent.

She said: “They were fearful to be found with those medals because of the Mau Mau. During that time some of them threw them in the sea or they hid them and don’t know where they hid them.”

King Charles III on a visit to a street kitchen in Nairobi. Credit: PA

The veteran, speaking through his daughter, said: “I am so happy and proud to be receiving my medals from the King.”

It comes after the King announced he will be attending COP28 after he was advised against attending last years conference.

He will travel to Dubai to deliver the opening address at the World Climate Action Summit in the UAE on December 1.

The monarch missed COP27 in Egypt last year after the government, under Liz Truss' premiership, warned him against it so soon into his ascension to the throne.

During his state visit he reaffirmed his commitment to combating environmental threats to the planet.

The monarch planted an Elgon teak sapling in the Karura Forest with 10-year-old environmental activist Karen Kimani, who told him “we need a clean environment, free from pollution”.

The Queen pats a baby rhino on a trip to Kenya. Credit: PA

The schoolgirl had written to Charles, asking if she could plant a tree with him but never expected to meet the British monarch.

After planting the sapling with the King, young activist Karen said: “I’m very excited and happy – this was my wish. I didn’t expect him to come.

“My mum got an email that said ‘The King is coming’ and I thought ‘Oh wow, what is this about?’. Then I heard he was coming to plant the tree.

“I decided to write a letter to the King because I wanted to let him know that children need their voices to be heard.”

In his speech to United Stations staff at their Nairobi offices, the King said: “As we look ahead to COP28 in another month’s time, we must remember what (Kenya’s) President (William) Ruto said at the Africa Climate Summit – ‘We go far when we go together’.”

He told the guests: “Wildfires have left countless acres bereft of the healthy forests that sustain our planet and our livelihoods, and cyclones and floods continue to devastate both farms and cities.

“It is particularly heart-breaking to know that, in the Horn of Africa alone, tens of millions of people face severe hunger and drought.

“As I am sure the many experts in this room know only too well, left unchecked, global warming, biodiversity loss and climate change are challenges which threaten us all and can only be met by the whole of society working together in the spirit of action, partnership and commitment.”

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