The King looked deeply reflective as he pored over a very poignant photograph at a Buckingham Palace reception on Tuesday.
Charles, 74, was shown an image of Treetops – the famous Kenyan hideaway his late mother was staying at when she learned that she had become Queen, following the death of her father King George VI on 6 February 1952.
As the King remarked that the historic location “no longer exists,” his wife Queen Camilla asked of the wooden structure: “Is it no longer with us? Oh dear, it’s collapsed.”
“It’s a great shame,” said the King. “Yes, it is,” the Queen replied. “It’s really sad. One of the iconic places. It’s sad it’s gone.”
“It must have been quite exciting getting up there,” Charles laughed as he pointed at the towering structure.
The then Princess Elizabeth and then Duke of Edinburgh were staying overnight at Treetops, a lodge deep in Aberdare National Park, on 5 February 1952, when Elizabeth’s father George VI is believed to have died in the early hours the following morning.
When they returned to the nearby Sagana Lodge, a wedding present from the people of Kenya, Philip was told about the death and he broke the news to his wife.
It is thought the original building was burnt down a few years after Queen Elizabeth’s visit during national unrest, which led to independence from the UK, known as the Mau Mau uprising.
The hotel was rebuilt near the same waterhole in 1957 but was forced to close in October 2021 due to a drop in tourism because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
King Charles’s comments about Treetops came as he and Camilla held a reception at the palace ahead of their five-day visit to Kenya next week. The couple welcomed people from the worlds of politics, creative arts, business and civil society, including Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha and former EastEnders actor Nitin Ganatra.
During the state visit to the East African nation, his first as monarch to a Commonwealth country, Charles will acknowledge the “painful aspects” of the UK and Kenya’s shared history.
Charles and Camilla’s tour, which begins next Monday, follows an invitation from Kenyan President William Ruto whose country is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its independence from Britain.