King Charles III set for Kenya visit

Britain's King Charles III wearing the Imperial State Crown, waves from the Buckingham Palace balcony

Britain's King Charles III wearing the Imperial State Crown, waves from the Buckingham Palace balcony after viewing the Royal Air Force fly-past in central London on May 6, 2023, after his coronation.  

Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau | POOL | AFP

Newly crowned King Charles III of the United Kingdom will be visiting Kenya later this year as part of the Crown's efforts to strengthen ties with Commonwealth nations around the world.

This will be King Charles' fifth visit to Kenya and his first official trip to the country since his coronation at Westminster Abbey in London two weeks ago. 

Kenya even sent its soldiers to the UK to take part in a joint parade ahead of the coronation.

The monarch, according to several British media reports, will tour the country before heading to France, a trip that was due to take place in March but was cancelled due to security concerns.

This particular trip to Kenya will evoke memories of the king's mother, the late Queen Elizabeth, who became queen at the age of 25 after her father, King George VI, died in February 1952.

She had travelled to Kenya with her late husband, Prince Phillip, to begin a world tour on behalf of King George, only to receive the sad news on February 6, 1952, while staying at the Treetops Hotel in Aberdare National Park.

King Charles was only three years old when his mother ascended to the throne.

He had already visited Kenya four times. The first was on safari with his sister, Princess Anne, in 1971, with further trips in 1977, 1978 and 1987.

It is also in Kenya that King Charles is said to have grown his first beard and even has a clearing, King Charles Campsite, named after him near the Treetops Hotel. 

Kenyna hospitality

The King is said to have often spoken fondly of the warmth and hospitality he received from the Kenyan people during his visits.

However, his visit to Kenya will be met with mixed emotions. While diplomatic relations between London and Nairobi will be strengthened, there are still grievances against the UK among locals. 

They want the UK government to make amends for British imperialism, suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion, and land grievances. 

Many Kenyans feel that the British government has not adequately addressed these issues. 

The visit also comes at an emotional time for the country whose heroine, Mukami Kimathi, wife of the late Dedan Kimathi, the most spirited of the Mau Mau fighters, was laid to rest last weekend.

Before her death and in her last interview with Nation, Mukami made a final plea to both King Charles and President William Ruto to do their best to show her where her husband was buried before she died. 

This was in December last year and, as fate would have it, she died five months after making her plea and without getting what she had asked for.

During her funeral, the government promised to look after the welfare of freedom fighters and their descendants, many of whom have lost their land, with President Ruto adding that he would ensure that Kimathi's grave was found so that he could be given a befitting send-off as a national hero.

King Charles's visit is also expected to quell a rising wave of disaffection among Kenyans with the British Army Training Unit in Kenya, based in Nanyuki, amid accusations of abuses by the soldiers against locals. 

The latest flashpoint relates to the revival of a case in which a Kenyan woman, Agnes Wanjiru, was allegedly murdered by a British soldier 21 years ago.

UK lawmakers now want British soldiers training in Kenya under the Kenya-UK-Northern Ireland Defence Cooperation Agreement who commit murder to be tried locally. 

A committee report tabled in the House of Representatives, while calling for the ratification of the agreement, pointed out that Article 6 (5) of the cooperation agreement should be amended to include murder as one of the offences under the jurisdiction of the host country.

Article 6 of the agreement subjects visiting forces to the laws of the host country. 

It does, however, give the authorities of the visiting force primary jurisdiction to try offences committed in the course of their official duties.

The last time King Charles met a senior government official from Kenya was in July 2021 when he, then Prince Charles, met former President Uhuru Kenyatta at Sandringham House, the private home of the late Queen Elizabeth II in Norfolk, England.

Mr Kenyatta was on an official visit to the UK where he co-chaired the Global Education Summit with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The King’s visit also comes as the UK has appointed a new High Commissioner to Kenya, Neil Wigan, who is the current UK Ambassador to Israel, to replace Jane Marriott, who will end her four-year tenure in July.