British Royals: King Charles in Kenya: The Long Shadow of Empire

British King Charles III looked worried as he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

British Royals: King Charles in Kenya: The Long Shadow of Empire

British King Charles III looked worried as he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Charles (74) and his wife Queen Camilla (76) were received with military honors by Kenyan President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel at the start of a multi-day trip.

It is the pair's first visit to a Commonwealth country since Charles's accession to the throne last year. The reason for the trip is the 60th anniversary of the country's independence from the British Empire, but that is not just a reason to celebrate. The sometimes brutal past of the British Empire has not been forgotten in Kenya and casts a shadow over the visit. Charles faces calls for an apology.

Maybe that's what made Charles' forehead wrinkle. The king is not indifferent to the injustice committed in the name of his country, as the palace made clear when the trip was announced.

Speech by Charles at the state banquet

“We must also acknowledge the most painful times in our long and complex relationship,” Charles said at a state banquet that evening, according to the palace. The wrongdoings of the past are the cause of greatest sorrow and deepest regret. "Heinous and unjustifiable acts of violence have been committed against Kenyans who, as you said at the United Nations, have been fighting a difficult struggle for independence and sovereignty," Charles said, according to the statement. "And there can be no excuse for that."

Charles said it was extremely important to him during his visit to Kenya to learn more about this injustice and to meet people whose lives and communities had been so badly affected. It had already been assumed in advance that there would probably not be an express apology - if only because Charles was traveling on behalf of the British government - and so far they have not been able to bring themselves to apologize.

Demands were made to the royal family

In the run-up to the visit, Kenyans had made numerous demands on the royal family. The National Human Rights Commission renewed its push for the return of the skull and clothing of the leader of the Nandi people, Koitalel Arap Samoei, who led the Nandi resistance to British colonial rule and was killed in 1905.

In addition, tribal elders from the Pokot ethnic group demanded reparations amounting to around 63 billion euros for the killing of almost 2,000 people in the city of Kepenguria and surrounding communities in northwest Kenya, as well as for the unlawful arrest of numerous other resisters.

Freedom fighters from the former Mau Mau rebel group are demanding information on the whereabouts of the body of their leader Dedan Kimathi, one of Kenya's most important freedom fighters, who was executed in 1957 and buried in an unknown location. Former Kenyan justice minister and human rights activist Martha Karua (2005-2009) emphasized: "We expect a clear apology [from King Charles]. Otherwise the visit is meaningless."

The government is probably hoping for a royal charm offensive

The government in London, on the other hand, is likely to rely on Charles and Camilla to appease the Kenyans with a royal charm offensive. Images such as the humble visit to the grave of the unknown soldier and with cheering students at a training center run by Charles' Prince's Trust foundation are likely to contribute to this.

The king's talks in Kenya are also likely to cover topics such as cooperation between the two countries in the fight against climate change, the promotion of young people and political stability in the region. Charles is particularly interested in climate protection. The British news agency PA reported that his plane was fueled with 40 percent sustainable fuel at the king's express request.

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