State Visit to Kenya
This week, The King and Queen are undertaking a State Visit to Kenya to celebrate the warm relationship between the two countries and the strong and dynamic partnership they continue to forge.
State Visit to Kenya
The visit is at the invitation of President Ruto and comes as Kenya prepares to celebrate 60 years of independence. His Majesty’s first visit to a Commonwealth nation as King is therefore to the country in which Queen Elizabeth II’s reign began, having acceded to the throne in Kenya in February 1952.
The King and Queen will visit Nairobi City County, Mombasa County and surrounding areas. Their Majesties’ programme will reflect the ways in which Kenya and the United Kingdom are working together, notably to boost mutual prosperity, tackle climate change, promote youth opportunity and employment, advance sustainable development and create a more stable and secure region.
The King and Queen’s programme will celebrate the close links between the British and Kenyan people in areas such as the creative arts, technology, enterprise, education and innovation. The visit will also acknowledge the more painful aspects of the UK and Kenya’s shared history, including the Emergency (1952-1960). His Majesty will take time during the visit to deepen his understanding of the wrongs suffered in this period by the people of Kenya.
Day 1: Nairobi
This morning, The King and Queen arrived at State House in Nairobi for a Ceremonial Welcome, where they were received by the President and First Lady of the Republic of Kenya.
After proceeding down the red carpet, President Ruto presented the Chief of the Kenyan Defence Forces and Commanders of the Army, Air Force and Navy.
The King joined President Ruto on the dais to observe a Royal Salute and twenty-one gun salute. The Kenya Defence Force band played the UK and Kenyan National Anthems.
Following the ceremony, The Queen joined the First Lady for a bilateral meeting, where Her Majesty viewed a gallery of images showing the work of Mama Doing Good, which focuses on environment and climate action, the economic empowerment of women, and faith diplomacy.
The First Lady created Mama Doing Good in 1997, and founded the Joyful Women Organisation, Mama Doing Good’s first programme, in 2009. The five programmes Mama Doing Good runs are: Joyful Women, which promotes women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion; Carakana, which is a social enterprise facilitating the preservation of indigenous skills through the production of handmade items; Mama Cycling, which promotes healthy communities through cycling; Mama Feeding, which is a non-profit organisation promoting access to education for vulnerable primary school children through feeding programmes; and The RearGuard; a movement which upholds family and national values for social transformation and community cohesion.
At Uhuru Gardens, The King and Queen toured a new museum dedicated to Kenya’s history. The King, with President Ruto, layed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and viewed the Mũgomo Tree at the site of the declaration of Kenya’s independence in 1963.
Uhuru Gardens National Monument and Museum is the hallowed site where Kenya’s founding fathers chose to celebrate Independence day on 12th December 1963, and the country’s republic status in 1964. The Mugumo tree at Uhuru Gardens was planted in the exact location where the Union Jack was removed and the Flag of Kenya was raised during the Independence Day celebrations, attended by Kenya’s first President, Jomo Kenyatta and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Today, Uhuru Gardens stands as a space for celebration of and reflection on Kenya’s history and achievements. From above, the museum is shaped like the national coat of arms, featuring a traditional African shield and two crossed spears. The museum is expected to open to the general public in 2024 and it is hoped it will attract approximately 2 million visitors annually.
Following this, The King met young people taking part in a Prince’s Trust International (PTI) Enterprise Challenge, during which they played a business simulation game before being encouraged to generate their own entrepreneurial ideas, with a focus on sustainable business.
The Prince’s Trust International’s programmes in Kenya focus on helping young people to develop business acumen. Delivered in partnership with local organisations, the programmes have operated in Kenya since 2019. It has directly supported the development of over 3,200 young Kenyans through its Enterprise Challenge programme with the Asante Africa Foundation and a bespoke consultancy project with Shujaaz.
Meanwhile, at Eastlands Library, The Queen met the founders of Book Bunk, a Kenyan charity that restores public libraries into “Palaces for People”.
The Queen heard about the dance, music and photography programmes run at the Library and met representatives from some of her own literary patronages with ties to Kenya.
Later, The King visited City Shamba, an innovative urban farming project which demonstrates how food production can be maximised in densely populated urban spaces through regenerative agricultural practice and the use of recycled materials. The project serves as a model farm and information centre for the local community, and provides food to the hospital.
His Majesty walked through the open-air garden, and heard about the different vegetable farming and organic pest control methods employed, before visiting the aquaponics greenhouse, and the catfish and tilapia fish ponds. The King helped to harvest some fresh crops, which will be delivered to the hospital kitchen.
The King also attended a Tech and Innovation showcase at Nairobi Garages. Dubbed the ‘Silicon Savannah’, Kenya is currently the third largest start up eco-system in Africa, after South Africa and Nigeria, and His Majesty met young entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of the country’s thriving technology sector.
Nairobi Garage is Africa's largest coworking space, which is available to more than 500 startups in five locations across Nairobi.
This evening, The King and Queen attended a State Banquet hosted by President Ruto at State House, along with distinguished guests from Kenya and the United Kingdom.
Addressing guests, His Majesty said:
It means a great deal to my wife and myself that, in our Coronation year, our first State Visit to a Commonwealth country should bring us here to Kenya. We both take considerable pride in renewing the ties between the United Kingdom and Kenya, a country that has long held such special meaning for my family.
Najiskia kama niko nyumbani
"It is well known, I think, that my dear Mother, The late Queen, had a particular affection for Kenya and the Kenyan people. She arrived here in nineteen fifty-two a Princess, but left as Queen. It is extremely moving to read her diary from that visit, in which she wrote that she did not want to miss a moment of Kenya’s extraordinary landscapes. I really cannot thank you enough for the support Kenya gave her through that difficult time."
Read The King's speech in full here.
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