King Charles's state visit to Kenya next week will be a poignant trip

RICHARD EDEN: Let’s not have a miserable apology-fest in Kenya, Charles. We need joyful, optimistic  ambassadors for the Commonwealth. (And there were GOOD things about the Empire, too…)

  • The King and Queen are due to visit East Africa next week
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When King Charles lands on Tuesday for a short tour of Kenya, he is expected to acknowledge some of the ‘more painful’ aspects of our shared history.

These will no doubt include the Mau Mau uprising of the 1950s and its often bloody suppression by British troops.

But there is also much to celebrate about our strong links with Kenya and the Commonwealth, says Richard Eden, who today urges the King and his advisers to avoid turning the visit into a ‘misery tour’.

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip on a bridge in the grounds of Sagana Lodge at the Treetops Hotel during a Commonwealth visit to Kenya in 1952. The following day, Prince Philip would break the news to Elizabeth that her father, King George VI, was dead

Thirty two years later, Elizabeth and Prince Philip are shown around Treetops, the hotel where she learned she was Queen

King Charles and Queen Camilla view items from the Royal Collection recalling the links between the Royal Family and Kenya

‘It should be a celebration of Britain’s close ties with Kenya and a chance to show how Commonwealth membership has benefited both countries since independence 60 years ago,’ he writes in the latest edition of the Palace Confidential newsletter.

‘Our Royal Family should be optimistic, joyful ambassadors for Britain, not miserable apologists for empire, which had positive as well as negative aspects.

The midweek tour of Kenya, which runs from Tuesday to Friday, will include some poignant notes, writes Eden.

‘The East African nation is where his mother climbed into a tree a princess and climbed down a Queen.

‘And at a Buckingham Palace reception this week he was presented with a photograph of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at Treetops Hotel, in Aberdare National Park, where they were staying in 1952 when they learned that George VI had died and their lives would change forever.’

Accompanied by Queen Camilla, this will be the King’s first trip to a Commonwealth nation since the death of his mother and his accession to the throne just over a year ago. 

Prince Charles and Princess Anne on safari in the Masai Game Reserve in 1971

Prince Charles pictured on a visit to Lake Rudolf, Kenya, in 1971

According to his deputy private secretary, Chris Fitzgerald, the King will take the opportunity to acknowledge ‘the more painful aspects of the United Kingdom and Kenya’s shared history’.

Will he go further? There are real dangers in doing so, concludes Eden. 

  • To read more of Richard’s expert royal commentary, click here

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