"The wrongdoings of the past are a cause of the greatest sorrow and the deepest regret."
King Charles is using his official state visit to Kenya to recognize and apologize for past "wrongdoings" from British colonial history. When Buckingham Palace announced that Charles and his wife, Queen Camilla, would be paying a visit to the country — it's where the late Queen Elizabeth II learned that she would ascend to the throne in 1952 — many critics called for Charles to acknowledge Britain's part in some of the darkest times in Kenyan history. People reports that Charles addressed the issue during a state banquet at the State House in Nairobi.
"It is the intimacy of our shared history that has brought our people together. However, we must also acknowledge the most painful times of our long and complex relationship," the king said. This state visit marks his first trip to Kenya since taking the throne in 2022. "The wrongdoings of the past are a cause of the greatest sorrow and the deepest regret. "There were abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence committed against Kenyans as they waged, as you said at the United Nations, a painful struggle for independence and sovereignty — and for that, there can be no excuse."
"In coming back to Kenya, it matters greatly to me that I should deepen my own understanding of these wrongs, and that I meet some of those whose lives and communities were so grievously affected," he added.
Charles's speech also touched on the history that the royal family has with the country and its people, mentioning his mother and noting that his first state visit to a Commonwealth country was to Kenya.
"It means a great deal to my wife and myself that, in our coronation year, our first state visit to a Commonwealth country should bring us here to Kenya," he continued. "We both take considerable pride in renewing the ties between the United Kingdom and Kenya, a country that has long held such special meaning for my family."
"It is well known, I think, that my dear mother, The late Queen, had a particular affection for Kenya and the Kenyan people. She arrived here in 1952 a princess but left as Queen," Charles explained. "It is extremely moving to read her diary from that visit, in which she wrote that she did not want to miss a moment of Kenya’s extraordinary landscapes. I really cannot thank you enough for the support Kenya gave her through that difficult time."
Kenya continues to be a special place for the royals. Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton during a visit to Mount Kenya. The king mentioned that sweet moment was mentioned, as well.
"It was here, in sight of Mount Kenya, that my son, the Prince of Wales, proposed to his wife, now my beloved daughter-in-law," he said.
Before Charles and Camilla arrived, Buckingham Palace assured the public that the royals would "acknowledge the more painful aspects of the U.K. and Kenya’s shared history." The “wrongs suffered” are in reference to The Emergency, also known as the Mau Mau rebellion, which led to a violent conflict in the 1950s. According to the BBC, more than 11,000 Mau Mau rebels and others involved in the conflict were killed, though many believe the actual number to be higher.
King Charles is not expected to officially apologize during the trip, though many are calling for it. Caroline Elkins, the author of Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya wrote in The Observer, “Firstly, King Charles III, you need to stop choking on those two words, 'I apologize.' Just cough them up.”
King Charles and Queen Camilla’s four-day trip commemorates the 60th anniversary of Kenyan independence. The nation celebrates the milestone on Dec. 12.
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