Queen Camilla used a visit to a donkey sanctuary in Nairobi to indulge in some early Christmas shopping – only to find out she had run out of cash.
The Queen bought jewelry, a blanket, a basket and some cashew butter from a temporary market at the sanctuary. She started off by using the cash held by an aide to pay 4,000 Kenyan shillings for the sisal basket made by Grace Maina.
“It’s beautiful!” the Queen told her. “I think I should buy one.” But by the time she bought a blanket from another stall her aide only had enough cash to pay for half.
For the rest of the Queen’s shopping spree, the aide had to go round stall holders getting their details to pay them later.
At one stall run by Shininah Dajom the Queen spotted a jar of cashew butter and said: “That’s one up on peanut butter!”
Dajom was unperturbed when she realised she would have to be paid the 3,000 shillings later.
“What that means is that the money is in the bank, not in the hand,” she laughed. She added later: “Her Majesty’s credit is very good!” But she also quickly realised that she had missed a good business opportunity. “Perhaps they should pay me 3,000 sterling pounds,” she joked. At one point, as aides lugged her wares, the Queen said: “Beautiful things,” before adding: “I’ve got a rather large haul.”
Sam Semat, who ran the jewellery stall, revealed that she had bought three bracelets and one pair of earrings.
“She asked me what materials they are made from,” he said afterward. “She also asked what impact it would have on me if she buys. I told her it was good for employment. “She said she was doing her Christmas shopping.” The sanctuary is run by the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care for Animals (KSPCA) in partnership with the equine charity Brooke East Africa. The Queen is the president of Brooke.
As she arrived, she was introduced to the sanctuary’s rescue dog Sifu, who is nicknamed Her Royal Highness.
Emma Ngugi, chair of KSPCA, said later: “I introduced my human colleague first because it seems polite. Then I said to the Queen, ‘Protocol dictates that I also have to introduce you to Her Royal Highness, Queen of the KSPCA Sifu’ At that point Sifu obligingly presented for a tummy rub, and the Queen had a little cuddle.”
In the centre’s veterinary clinic, Queen met an ex-champion racehorse called Pardon Me Nicely who was rescued after being abused and a donkey called Olekisasi who was a recent rescue.
As the Queen went to stroke the donkey, who was more interested in eating his lunch than paying attention to the royal visitor, she said: “He looks very happy – he has got a whole crate of carrots.” As the Queen heard how Olekisasi had been found trapped in a ditch, she said: “How terrible.”
She also heard how women use local materials including sisal to make harnesses for donkeys. As she watched a donkey being fitted with his harness, she said: “It makes it much more comfortable [for them].”
As she watched that donkey also tuck into a bucket of carrots, she tried to him one herself, but without success. “Have another one!” she said. “No? His mouth is much too full!”
The engagement ended with the Queen being presented with a ceremonial red cloak by a group of Maasai women who wrapped it around her and, slightly to her surprise, then corralled her into joining them as they danced and sang their way holding hands towards the exit.
At one point they paused before starting again. Queen, looking mildly uncomfortable, said: “What, more?” only to find out that there was indeed more.