On Thursday evening, the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriot, hosted a double celebration in honour of Queen Elizabeth II, for her 96th birthday and the Platinum Jubilee - marking a phenomenal seventy years on the throne.
The invite-only event saw dignitaries and guests, who included key contacts from among the various UK-Kenya strategic partnership pillars gather at the British official residence in Muthaiga to mark the auspicious occasion.
Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mutahi Kagwe, the chief guest during the celebrations, expressed the government’s commitment to enhancing bilateral ties with the United Kingdom.
‘’This endeavour seeks to achieve more prosperous and sustainable partnerships between the two countries,’’ said Kagwe.
Citing the agreement on health cooperation signed last year, the health CS lauded the UK government for the continued support of Kenya’s different health programs.
‘’Kenya and the United Kingdom have an opportunity to collaborate further through the established health partnership to expand even to the development of our local manufacturing capacity,’’ said Kagwe.
On her side, the UK High Commissioner, Jane Marriot noted that the Queen’s connection to Kenya has always been a very special one.
‘’You all know the story of how a young Elizabeth, in 1952 went up a tree as a Princess and descended as the Queen. She went on to visit Kenya in 1972, 1983 and 1991 demonstrating the continued importance of the Commonwealth, and the special relationship our two countries share,’’ said Marriot.
Queen Elizabeth II was on a visit to Kenya with Prince Philip when she was announced as queen back in 1952.
On global crisis, the envoy said her country continues to work together with Kenya to deliver global solutions in critical areas such as education, health, climate, trade and investment.
‘’Kenya remains of absolutely vital importance to the UK, with President Kenyatta making three visits to the UK in the last two years, where he and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have shared the global stage on development, education and climate issues,’’ Marriot added.
Marriot further noted that the trade between the two countries is worth around 165 billion a year, and the UK is Kenya’s largest trading partner.
‘’Over forty per cent of UK tea imports come from Kenya. My Prime Minister is fond of saying that every other cup of tea we drink in the UK is from Kenya,’’ said the envoy.
On education, the High Commissioner observed that the United Kingdom and Kenya have a strong network of over 1,755 alumni of UK scholarships and fellowships in academia, defence and security in Kenya.
‘’More than 500 of these are Chevening scholars and quick advert applications will open shortly for the next round of Chevening scholarships,’’
Marriot further reiterated her country’s commitment to continue working with Kenya to help facilitate private sector investment into Kenyan infrastructure.
The queen has been on the throne for longer than any other monarch in British history, becoming a much loved and respected figure across the globe.
The High Commissioner says her extraordinary reign has seen her travel more widely than any other monarch, undertaking over 260 official visits overseas, including nearly 100 state visits.
‘’She has been the UK’s foremost diplomat, affirming old relationships and building new connections,’’ said Marriot.
Pomp and Colour
The garden venue of the party which hosted over 1,500 guests, was decorated with images of the Queen and flowers provided by British firm Flamingo Horticulture.
The Kenya Army Band put on a magnificent performance as did Essene Sudi who performed Adele’s someone like you while the British High Commission’s community choir entertained the guests present.
The chef put together a Brit-friendly menu which included among others, smoked salmon, fish and chips, roast lamb, bread and butter pudding as well as mini steak which accompanied the wonderful gin cocktails, beers, champagne and wine that flowed all evening long.
Celebrations to mark this birthday have been held around the Commonwealth as well as in Great Britain.
Notable figures who attended the event included ICT CS Joe Mucheru, Azimio presidential running mate Martha Karua, former Chief Justice David Maraga and Jubilee vice Chair David Murathe.
Long live the Queen and Happy Birthday!