King Charles expresses 'greatest sorrow' for colonial atrocities in Kenya

King Charles expresses 'greatest sorrow' for colonial atrocities in Kenya

The King on Tuesday expressed his “sorrow” over Britain’s past colonial “wrongdoings” in a powerful speech in Kenya.

At a State banquet in Nairobi, Charles became the first monarch to express his “deepest regret” for British led atrocities.

They included Britain’s repression of the Mau Mau uprising between 1952 and 1960 when thousands of Kenyans were executed, tortured, or maimed in the colonial government’s cruel crackdown.

He said: “The wrongdoings of the past are a cause of the greatest sorrow and the deepest regret.”

His words come amid angry calls from activists who want Britain to pay millions incompensation for its colonial legacy.

A decade ago, the British Government paid nearly £20 million in compensation to Kenyan victims of torture during the uprising.

Kenyan President William Ruto told the banquet that Britain's response to Kenya's quest for self-rule was "monstrous in its cruelty."

"While there have been efforts to atone for the death, injury and suffering inflicted on Kenyan Africans by the colonial government, much remains to be done in order to achieve full reparations," he said.

The King said: “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."

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

But he tried to strike a positive note, speaking in both English and Swahili.

He started by saying,“Ni furaha yangu kuwa na nyinyi jioni ya leo”. [It is my great privilege to be with you this evening.]

He spoke of his close familial ties to the east African nation where his son and heir Prince William proposing to Catherine, The Princess of Wales, in Kenya.

“None of this can change the past.  But by addressing our history with honesty and openness we can, perhaps, demonstrate the strength of our friendship today.

"And, in so doing, we can, I hope, continue to build an ever-closer bond for the years ahead.

He went on, “As Jomo Kenyatta said, “Our children may learn about the heroes of the past.  Our task is to make ourselves the architects of the future.”

He also spoke of the late Queen and Prince Philip saying, “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 nineteen fifty-two a Princess, but left as Queen.  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.

“Ten years later, my Father, The late Duke of Edinburgh, attended the celebrations of Kenya’s independence. To mark the occasion, Her late Majesty wrote to President Jomo Kenyatta to convey her sincere hope that, with God’s guidance, Kenya would prosper and that her people would have peace and contentment in full measure.

“Nearly fifty yearslater 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 also spoke about his first visit to Kneya to Kenya in 1971 The Princess Royal, when he met President Jomo Kenyatta, a “towering statesman who inspired such great admiration, affection and respect.”

The King, who flies onto Mombasa at the end of the visit, added, “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 complexrelationship.

“Mr. President, in returning to Kenya I have been struck by the many ways in which our countries’ relationship is now closer than ever.

“It is a modern partnership of equals, facing today’s challenges, and looking to the many opportunities that, together, we can seize.  Whether by using the King’s Cross regeneration as a model for the Nairobi Railway City, or by learning from Kenya how the Blue Economy can really work for local communities, all of you here this evening, and across our countries, deserve our gratitude for your ceaseless work to realize our joint ambitions."

He also spoke of security being of “paramount confirst Marine Commando Unit was established earlier this year, trained by British Royal Marines.  I also look forward to visiting Kariokor War Graves Cemetery, where I will honour Kenyans and other Africans who died in Two World Wars.  We must ensure all are granted the remembrance befitting their service.”

Guests at the State banquet enjoyed an eight course meal.

It included beetroot and goat cheese foam with hazelnut crumble, cream of roasted butternut, chestnut and truffle soup, Malindi lobster and seared seafood ravioli flavoured bisque, and watercress and stilton salad with candied apples and walnuts.

They were also served pan-seared salmon with Champagne beurre blanc and Beef Wellington, chateau potatoes and minted asparagus.

For dessert there was a visually stunning dessert platter with miniature portions of Kenyan and British inspired honey cake, carrot and walnut square, crumble and sarova chocolate cake, petit fours, and chocolate truffles and macaroons.