King Charles III arrives in Kenya, first state visit to a Commonwealth country

Nairobi, The Gulf Observer: King Charles III is in Kenya for a four-day trip, his first state visit to a Commonwealth country as king, underscoring his commitment to an organization that’s been central to Britain’s global power and prestige since World War II.

It’s also a visit that’s full of symbolism as Charles’ mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, learned that she had become U.K. monarch while visiting a game preserve in the East African nation in 1952.

The king and Queen Camilla touched down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport late on Monday. The royal couple was received by Kenya’s Prime Cabinet Secretary and Foreign Minister Musalia Mudavadi and British High Commissioner to Kenya Neil Wigan.

On Tuesday morning, a ceremonial welcome by Kenyan President William Ruto is planned at State House.

During the visit, Charles will acknowledge the “painful aspects” of his nation’s shared history with Kenya, which celebrates the 60th anniversary of its independence from the United Kingdom this year. The two countries have enjoyed a close relationship since independence, despite the prolonged struggle against colonial rule, sometimes known as the Mau Mau Rebellion, in which thousands of Kenyans died.

Colonial authorities resorted to executions and detention without trial as they tried to put down the insurrection, and thousands of Kenyans said they were beaten and sexually assaulted by agents of the administration.

The British High Commission said Charles would “meet veterans and give his blessing to efforts by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to ensure Kenyans and Africans who supported British efforts in the World Wars are properly commemorated.”

Tuesday morning traffic was a bit slow on major roads towards the central business district. The governor in charge of Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, Johnson Sakaja, had told residents on Monday to expect “mild” traffic disruptions while the king is in town.

Charles also plans to visit Nairobi National Park and meet with environmental activist Wanjira Mathai, the daughter of late Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, as he underscores his commitment to environmental protection.

The U.K. royal family has long ties to Africa. In 1947, the future queen pledged lifelong service to Britain and the Commonwealth during a speech from South Africa on her 21st birthday. Five years later, Elizabeth and her late husband Prince Philip were visiting Aberdare National Park in Kenya when they learned that her father had died and she had become queen.