King Charles highlights British defence cooperation on third day of Kenya visit

NAIROBI (Reuters) – King Charles and Queen Camilla on Thursday watched UK-trained Kenyan marines stage a mock beach landing on the third day of their official visit to the former British colony.

After two days in the capital Nairobi, Charles and Camilla travelled to the port city of Mombasa, the original capital of British East Africa.

The training exercise, which saw the marines mount the beach toward the royal entourage as red smoke grenades swirled overhead, was meant to highlight Britain’s close defence cooperation with Kenya.

Charles’ first visit to a former colony since ascending to the throne in September last year has been marked by questions about abuses during Britain’s nearly seven decades of rule there.

Charles expressed his “deepest regret” at a state banquet for violence endured during Kenya’s independence struggle, but some victims and their descendants said he fell well short of their demands for a full apology and reparations.

During the 1952-1960 Mau Mau revolt in central Kenya, some 90,000 Kenyans were killed or maimed and 160,000 detained, the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) has estimated.

The British military has also faced scrutiny around Charles’ visit. On Monday, Kenyan police blocked a news conference intended to air allegations of abuses by a British army training unit based in central Kenya.

Residents have accused British soldiers of causing a wildfire in 2021 that destroyed much of a nature reserve, leaving behind ordnance that injured local people, and being involved in the 2012 murder of a woman last seen with British soldiers.

British authorities have promised in the past to investigate the allegations against members of the training unit.

Kenya is a close military ally of Western nations and has deployed troops to regional hotspots like Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

(Reporting by Hereward Holland; Editing by Aaron Ross and Angus MacSwan)