Queen Elizabeth: The Kenyan connection

Royal connection: Tree Tops Hotel, Nyeri, was destroyed by Mau Mau fighters, rebuilt to the original look. [Standard, File]

Elizabeth II who has died aged, 96, long surpassed the record set by her great grandmother Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria had previously held that record with the 63 years, 7 months, 2 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes served as the British sovereign.

Elizabeth's journey to Kenya and into the reign started on January 31, 1952, when she bade farewell to her family in Britain as she set off on her most memorable journey.

This was no ordinary trip. Slated to cover 30,000 miles, taking her to far-flung corners of the British Empire including Australia and New Zealand, she was representing her ailing father in the trip but by the time she completed the Kenyan leg, she had become the queen.

The queen was also sort of honeymooning with her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburg whom she had married five years earlier. Prince died April 9, 2021, at Windsor Castle.

But the two had certainly not prepared for the shocker when they climbed the epic hotel built by Eric Sherbrooke as a game viewing platform for his wife.

It was while here that news of her father's death was conveyed by Granville Roberts, a journalist who worked for the East African Standard and who had been detailed to cover the royal visit.

A plaque at the spot where Tree Tops Hotel once stood. It was razed during the Mau Mau uprising. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

A new hotel was rebuilt taking the style of the old one and a new Mugumo tree still skirts around the wooden establishment staircase.

An artificial wildlife watering hole with salt licks still brings around herds of elephants, buffalo, wildebeest and other small game.

About 40 kilometres away, another iconic memory of the 1952 trip abounds.

The Sagana River State Lodge had been built by the colonial government as a gift holiday home in memory of the 1952 trip.

But the British monarch handed it over to the Kenyan government shortly after independence although that was one gift that the new government had wanted to reserve for the monarchy.