King Charles III Begins Kenya State Visit, Expected to Acknowledge Colonial Past

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Today marks the first full day of King Charles III’s highly symbolic state visit to Kenya. The tour began with a warm reception at the State House in Nairobi from Kenyan President William Ruto and his wife, First Lady Rachel Ruto.

King Charles III paid homage to a monument commemorating Kenya’s 1963 independence from Britain.

Charles, accompanied by Queen Camilla, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi.

 

On the first day of the state visit to Kenya, King Charles III and President William Ruto of Kenya unveiled a plaque while visiting Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi. He then visited the Mugomo Tree, a fig tree planted on the site of Kenya’s 1963 independence declaration.

The arrival ceremony was followed by King Charles planting a tree.

The first Kenyan flag was raised, and the Union flag was taken down exactly where the fig tree was planted. It is believed to be the birthplace of modern Kenya and is roughly a 78-foot column with a pair of hands holding a dove of peace atop it, commemorating the nation’s independence.

Charles will address prominent Kenyans and British dignitaries at a state banquet hosted in the King and Queen’s honour to cap off the first full day of the four-day visit.

When making a return toast at the banquet, the monarch of Britain is expected to address the “more painful” parts of Britain’s colonial relationship with Kenya, such as the atrocities and the execution of over a thousand people that were carried out during the Mau Mau rebellion.

But despite demands from activists who also want Britain to pay more damages for violations of human rights that date back to the 1950s, Charles is unable to issue an official apology. This is because he is in the country at the British Government’s request, which has not expressed regret despite having already paid out nearly £20 million in compensation.

King Charles looked sharp in a lounge suit, while Queen Camilla looked sophisticated in an Anna Valentine dress made of white crepe silk and a diamond oyster brooch that was originally owned by Queen Elizabeth II.

The King joined President Ruto on a dais while the Kenya Defence Force band played the national anthems of Kenya and the United Kingdom, and a 21-gun salute was fired by a nearby Guard of Honour, which was arranged in two rows.

Charles inspected the troops, walking past them in their red tunics and peaked caps.

The King later held a bilateral talk with the Kenyan president, while Camilla had separate talks with the Kenyan first lady.

King Charles and Camilla arrived in Nairobi last night on an RAF Voyager aircraft, and they disembarked from the aircraft without any drama or fanfare, in what was described as an “administrative arrival” before today’s formal welcome in the capital.

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