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Kenyans in Bristol Join the World to Mourn Queen Elizabeth II


It was while on vacation in Kenya at Treetops hotel in February 1952 when Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II. So when news of her death were announced, former staff returned to the Treetops Hotel to light candles and lay out a condolence book in her honour.

Photo Credit: Patrick Meinhardt

Kenya and the UK have historical relations dating back to the 19th century. In 1895, Kenya became part of the East Africa Protectorate (also known as British East Africa).

On 1 June 1963 Kenya attained internal self-rule (or Madaraka in Swahili) from the British Colonial powers. Queen Elizabeth II remained head of state. The monarch's constitutional roles were mostly delegated to the Governor-General of Kenya while Jomo Kenyatta held office of the prime minister (and head of government).

On 12 December 1964 Kenya became a republic (or Jamhuri in Swahili) hence becoming the Republic of Kenya. Jomo Kenyatta became the first President of the Republic of Kenya. Kenya remained in the Commonwealth.


The day the Princess of Wales became Queen Elizabeth II

In 1952, Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip set to tour some of the British colonies as her father, King George VI was too unwell to travel. The couple was to complete a 6-month tour of the Commonwealth countries, including Australia and New Zealand.

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on 1 February 1952 for a short break in Kenya and had been staying at Sagana Lodge, near Mount Kenya. Sagana Lodge was given to Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip as a gift from the people of Kenya when they got married in 1947.


On 5 February 1952 Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip had spent the day at a game-viewing hotel known as Treetops Hotel, just over 100 miles (165km) from Nairobi taking pictures of elephants at a nearby watering hole before retiring to their cabin high up in the trees.

They spent the night surrounded by wild animals. According to Sherbrooke Walker, the owner of Treetops Hotel at the time, Princess Elizabeth was almost tramped by elephants. According to him, an elephant suddenly appeared when the young princess was heading to a picture-taking spot at Treetops.

    Photos by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

​Unknown to them at the time, Princess Elizabeth’s father passed away during the night but she could not get the news due to the remoteness of the place and only came to know of it the following day. It was here on 6 February 1952 that the princess became Queen, after George VI passed away in his sleep.

Queen Elizabeth II had a soft spot for Kenya since then. She ascended to the throne in 1952 on the steps of State House Nairobi, then known as Government House after the colonial Governor Sir Philip Mitchell read the proclamation that saw the young princess become Queen Elizabeth II.

The British hunter Jim Corbett, who was also staying at Treetops at the time, later wrote the now famous lines in the visitors' log book: "For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into a tree one day a Princess and after having what she described as her most thrilling experience she climbed down from the tree next day a Queen."

As part of the Commonwealth, Kenya has been a favourite holiday hotspot for the Mornachy. It was in Kenya at the foothills of Mount Kenya in 2010, where Prince William engaged his university sweetheart Kate Middleton.

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