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. Stefan Rousseau | POOL | AFP
International News

King Charles III scheduled to visit Kenya later this year

Newly crowned King Charles III is expected to visit Kenya later this year as part of the Crown’s initiative to enhance relations with Commonwealth countries globally.

His upcoming visit will mark his fifth trip to the country and his first official visit since his coronation at Westminster Abbey in London two weeks ago. Notably, Kenya demonstrated its support by sending its soldiers to the UK to participate in a joint parade preceding the coronation.

As per reports from British media, King Charles III is expected to embark on a tour of Kenya before proceeding to France. The trip was initially planned for March but was postponed due to security concerns.

The visit holds historical significance as it brings back memories of the late Queen Elizabeth, King Charles’ mother, who became queen at the age of 25 following the passing of King George VI in February 1952.

Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip, had journeyed to Kenya to commence a world tour on behalf of King George. However, they received the somber news of his demise on February 6, 1953, while staying at the Treetops Hotel in Aberdare National Park.

At the time of Queen Elizabeth’s accession, King Charles was merely three years old. Since then, he has already made four previous visits to Kenya. The first occurred in 1971 when he went on safari with his sister, Princess Anne, followed by subsequent trips in 1977, 1978, and 1987.

During his previous visits, King Charles is believed to have grown his first beard in Kenya. Furthermore, there is a clearing near the Treetops Hotel named King Charles Campsite in his honor.

The King has expressed fondness for the warm hospitality extended to him by the Kenyan people during his stays in the country.

His visit to Kenya may, however, evoke mixed emotions as there are still grievances held by some locals towards the UK. His visit occurs at a sensitive time when there are lingering grievances among Kenyans towards the UK government regarding British imperialism, the suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion, and land disputes. Many Kenyans feel that these issues have not been adequately addressed by the British government.

Kenya recently mourned the passing of Mukami Kimathi, the wife of the late Dedan Kimathi, a prominent figure among the Mau Mau fighters. Mukami, in her final interview, expressed a heartfelt plea to both King Charles and President William Ruto to assist her in locating her husband’s burial site before her own demise. Unfortunately, she passed away five months after making her plea without receiving the resolution she had sought.

During her funeral, the Kenyan government pledged to support the welfare of freedom fighters and their descendants, many of whom have faced land-related challenges. President Ruto specifically promised to locate Kimathi’s grave to ensure a dignified farewell for him as a national hero.

King Chaarles’ visit is anticipated to address the growing discontent among Kenyans regarding the British Army Training Unit in Kenya, stationed in Nanyuki. There have been allegations of abuses by soldiers against local residents, leading to a surge in disaffection.

One specific incident that has sparked recent tensions is the reopening of a case involving the alleged murder of a Kenyan woman named Agnes Wanjiru by a British soldier 21 years ago.

In response to such incidents, British lawmakers are now advocating for British soldiers who commit murder while training in Kenya under the Kenya-UK-Northern Ireland Defence Cooperation Agreement to be subject to local trials. The issue adds to the broader context of grievances surrounding the conduct of British soldiers in Kenya.

A committee report presented in the House of Representatives recommended the ratification of the agreement. It highlighted the need to amend Article 6 (5) of the cooperation agreement to include murder as one of the offences falling under the jurisdiction of the host country.

According to Article 6 of the agreement, visiting forces are subject to the laws of the host countries. However, the visiting force retains primary jurisdiction to prosecute offenses committed during their official duties.