History

Africa’s Oldest Safari Lodge Where Queen Elizabeth Accepted to be Queen of England

Kenya oldest safari lodge, Treetops, is well known for welcoming royalty. It is the only suite in Africa to host Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II spent her last night as a princess nearly 70 years ago.

It’s an elaborate Treehouse on the edge of a watering hole in Aberdare National Park in Kenya. It has since become one of three historical hotels in Kenya’s Nyeri County.

It is the origin of the popular folklore among Kenyans and followers of the royal family that, Elizabeth climbed up a tree as a Princess and descended a Queen.

In the Treetops logbook, Jim Corbett, the armed man who escorted the Queen wrote that “For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into the tree as a princess and climbed down as a queen.”

The Queen and his Prince had planned to spend the night watching wildlife, enjoying a break from their royal duties before continuing the rest of their tour of Kenya until the unfortunate demise of his father who was battling lung cancer.

The coincidental irony is that, the safari lodge where the Queen was informed of the passing away of his father, King George VI, in February, 1952, is where she picked the formality and sense of duty demeanor at.

The initial structure hosting the safari lodge was burnt down by the Kenyan freedom fighters, Mau Mau, who were agitating against colonial rule in Kenya, according to Africa news. The new hotel that was erected was where the Queen lodged, after she was formally crowned on June 2, 1953.

The accommodation the Queen used was a three-bedroom shack, with small servant quarters, erected in the upper branches of a huge fig tree, according to Daily Mail.

The Treetops was owned by Eric Walker who partly owned another resort, Outspan hotel in Nyeri. He hosted the royal couple with his wife, Lady Bettie, who was the daughter of Earl of Denbigh.

The safari lodge, since the Queen’s visit, has risen to become one of the world’s most famous Treehouses. The architecture was upgraded to royal status and has since been visited by other royals like Princess Anne.

The royal family found the lodge convenient because of the protocols Eric Walker put in place to dissuade journalists from becoming a nuisance to the political elite who visited the resort and limited the number of guests who were allowed to the place.

The reason that was provided by the owners of the facility was that too many guests would scare the wildlife and photographs will also invade the privacy of royals who visited the lodge.

Treetops was once used as a military base by British colonial soldiers for their snipers until it was razed down by the Kenyan freedom fighters in 1954.

Today, guests are able to retrace history by walking through the jungle which the Queen used in 1952 and viewing the wildlife she took interest in.

But, clearly it remains one of the few historic places of a particular nostalgic reminiscence for many Kenyans will reminisce as the Queen passes on to join her ancestors.

Stephen Nartey

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