The King and Queen’s state visit to Kenya kicked off with a grand ceremonial welcome in the capital Nairobi.
Charles and Camilla arrived at State House, the President’s official residence, where their hosts had rolled out the red carpet and around 100 members of the military, in their scarlet uniforms, were lined up in the forecourt to wait for their royal visitors.
Stepping out of a Land Rover Discovery, the couple were greeted with warm handshakes by the Republic’s President Dr William Ruto, and the First Lady Rachel before being introduced to Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi and Francis Ogalla, Chief of Kenya’s Defence Forces.
Camilla, in a white Anna Valentine crepe silk dress and a diamond oyster brooch that had belonged to Elizabeth II, was carrying an umbrella, but luckily the rain that had persisted all morning had stopped minutes before the couple’s arrival and was replaced with bright sunshine.
On the dias in front of the State House, the King, and the President stood side by side in front of their national flags as a guard of honour conducted a royal salute and the Kenya Defence Force band played the UK and Kenyan national anthems.
After a 21-gun salute, the King made his way to inspect the guard as the band continued to play.
Afterward, he met Kenyan government ministers and introduced the President to James Cleverly, the UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs. Charles and Camilla then commemorated their visit by planting two African fern trees (Afrocarpus gracilior) in the grounds.
Following their warm welcome, Charles and Camilla visited Nairobi’s Uhuru Gardens, where the King unveiled a plaque and placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
They then proceeded to the Mũgomo Tree, planted on December 12, 1964, to commemorate the day Kenya was declared independent.
Samson Malaki, curator at the nearby Mashujaa Museum, reflected on the tree’s significance. “It is a tree that marks our history,” he said.
“This tree is not just a historic landmark, but it is a shrine. This country was planted as a result of what we went through as a country, as a memory, as far as this country is concerned.”
Fascinated by the history of the Mũgomo Tree, the King asked if it bore fruit.
On their way back to State House, Charles and Camilla stopped at the pillared entrance to pose for a photo with the President and First Lady, before heading inside to sign guest books and hold bilateral meetings with their hosts.
While the King and President Ruto had a tête-à-tête in the President’s office and discussed “themes of common interest”, the First Lady showed Camilla a gallery of images and told her about the work of Mama Doing Good, the socio-economic development organisation she founded in 1997 to help women, youth and vulnerable people in Kenya.