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President Ruto: We will miss the cordial ties Queen Elizabeth II had with Kenya

President William Ruto when arrived in London, United Kingdom to attend the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on September 19, 2022. [PSCU]

President William Ruto was among hundreds of world leaders and invited guests who attended British Queen Elizabeth II's funeral service at Westminster Abbey in London yesterday.

Ruto joined other world leaders in mourning, including US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Dr Ruto and other African leaders were transported on a coach provided by the United Kingdom government for leaders attending Queen Elizabeth II's burial ceremony.

The UK government had issued travel instructions to the heads of state attending the event, instructing them to park their vehicles at a location in west London.

Ruto praised the Queen's leadership of the Commonwealth over the past seven decades, during which she guided the institution's evolution into a forum for effective multilateral engagement with undeniable potential to drive tremendous socioeconomic progress.

“We will miss the cordial ties she enjoyed with Kenya and may her memories continue to inspire us, we join the Commonwealth in mourning and offer our condolences to the Royal Family and the United Kingdom during these difficult moments,” he said.

Kenya holds a special place in the late Queen Elizabeth's life because she assumed leadership in 1952 while visiting the country with her husband, the late Prince Phillip, when her father, King George VI, died after a long illness, forcing her to return home immediately.

The Queen maintained a special attachment with Kenya, where she served as Head of State for 11 years before handing over to President Jomo Kenyatta at Independence, and where she was bestowed with the Chief of the Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya in 1972.

She returned to Kenya twice more while President Daniel arap Moi was in power, in 1983 and 1991, and is credited with donating the Sagana State Lodge, which was her property, to the Kenyan government as a gift while Mzee Kenyatta was in power.

Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and Head of the Anglican Global Community, eulogised Queen Elizabeth as someone who dedicated her life at the age of 21 to service for humanity around the world, something she did for 75 years.

The Queen's burial was a one-of-a-kind event, with a similar occurrence in Britain 70 years ago when her father, King George VI, was interred in an elaborate ceremony similar to the one held for her daughter and watched by millions of people worldwide on television.