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Kenya and the British Royal Family

So, what exactly is Kenya’s royal connection?

Kenya and the British Royal Family

Kenya has close ties with Britain, not least due to our colourful shared history. Some of the older generation, in particular, seems to have a soft spot for the royal family and the Commonwealth.
However, these feelings of endearment seem to have faded with time. It appears that today's generation is definitely not as enamoured with 'Queen and country'. There is, however, still some attachment, as entrepreneur Agwingi Argwings-Kodhek explains: "We have great affinity to the Queen. The institution represents order, grandeur, stability and tradition. It represents everything that was good about old Kenya."

Treetops Hotel is where the then Princes Elizabeth of England was staying with her husband in 1952 when her father King George VI died. So she technically became Queen while in Kenya. Kenya still has a special place in the heart of the British royal family, and Prince Charles and his sons are frequent visitors. Treetops Hotel is located just inside the gates of the Aberdare National Park, where it overlooks a waterhole and saltlick. it was literally built into the tops of the trees of Aberdare National Park as a treehouse, offering the guests a close view of the local wildlife in complete safety. The idea was to provide a machan (hunting platform on a tree during shikar in India) experience in relative safety and comfort. From the original modest two-room tree house, it has grown into 50 rooms. The original structure was burned down by the Mau Mau in 1954, but the hotel was rebuilt near the same waterhole and has recently been renovated again.

Treetops 1963

William's father Prince Charles has been to Kenya a few times too: firstly on safari in 1971 when he pitched a tent at what is now the Mara Serena, then as the Queen's representative for our first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's funeral in 1978 and finally in 1987 for the Commonweatlh Development Corporation.

The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy simply known as Lewa is nestled at the foot of Mount Kenya and both Prince William and Prince Harry are frequent visitors. Lewa is home to some of Africa's critically endangered species, notably the black rhino and Grevy's zebra. The Conservancy has been hugely successful in conservation of the native black rhino and the resident population has grown at an impressive 6% per annum. Lewa plays a crucial role in rhino conservation in Kenya, facilitating the translocation of its rhino to new or previously inhabited areas and providing technical expertise to established and new rhino sanctuaries. Lewa's Grevy's zebra population, at approximately 380 individuals, is the single largest at any one place in the world. With less than 3,000 left in the wild, the Grevy's zebra is the world's rarest zebra and the second largest equid. Lewa's Research Team carries out important monitoring and research to inform management decisions on Grevy's zebra conservation.

Rutundu is where Prince William asked his long-term girlfriend, Kate Middleton to marry him in an isolated log cabin miles off the beaten track. The pair were enjoying a 24-hour stop over at the spartan Log Cabins during their Kenyan holiday when the Prince popped the question. Far from the opulence of the Royal residences back home, the cabin does not even have electricity and guests are advised to bring all their own food and drink. With two of the peak's lakes – Lake Alice and Lake Michaelson – only accessible by helicopter or foot, Wills flew Kate to the romantic location in a borrowed helicopter, and there, more than 12,500ft above sea level, he proposed, against the spectacular backdrop of the Rift Valley. It came of little surprise to learn that William asked Kate to marry him in the continent he considers his second home.

Kenya's Samburu community celebrated the birth of Prince George in July 2013 with a ceremony in November bestowing a community blessing, including two bulls and a goat, upon the third in line to the British throne. The ceremony attended by the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Dr Christian Turner, and other local dignitaries, included hundreds of Samburu tribes people singing and dancing to welcome the birth of the future king. Representing Prince George, Turner was handed two fattened bulls and one goat on behalf of the royal family from the Namunyak Women's Group, as a symbolic gift awarded to a first born son.

Dr Christian Turner receiving gifts for Prince George from Samburu

So now we wonder, when will Prince George come on his first safari?

"For Africa to me... is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place." - Maya Angelou