King poised to express 'sorrow' for Mau Mau torture, but not apologise

As King prepares for first state visit to Kenya… Charles poised to express ‘sorrow’ for Mau Mau torture – but activists want an apology

  • King to acknowledge Kenyans tortured in uprisings, but will not issue apology 

King Charles is poised to become the first Royal to express sorrow over Britain’s repression of the Mau Mau uprising when he makes a state visit to Kenya this week, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Amid angry calls from activists who want Britain to pay millions in compensation for its colonial legacy in the African state, the King will acknowledge that Kenyans were tortured during the reprisals for the 1950s revolt but will stop short of issuing an official apology.

A decade ago, the British Government agreed to pay nearly £20 million in compensation to Kenyan victims of torture during the uprising.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission say 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed in Britain’s brutal crackdown of the rebellion.

Kenyan campaigners continue to demand an apology, writing to Prince William last year asking for this and reparations for their ‘immense suffering under British rule’. Lawyer Joel Kimutai Bosek, who represents 100,000 Kenyans who claim they were forced off their ancestral land by the British, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Charles owes us Kenyans an apology.

King Charles is set to be the first British monarch to acknowledge Britain’s repression of the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya

Amid calls from activists who want Britain to pay compensation for it colonial legacy in Kenya, the King will acknowledge people tortured during the reprisals for the 1950 revolt, but will stop short of a full apology

‘And not just for the 1950s, but atrocities dating back to 1902.

‘We want His Majesty to offer an apology and organise some form of financial reparations and compensation.’ He added: ‘The resources that the colonial government and the King’s direct ancestors stole from us are mind-boggling.’

A month after the letter to Prince William was sent, Mr Bosek filed cases against the UK Government at the European Court of Human Rights for alleged colonial abuses on behalf of the displaced Talai and Kipsigis clans.

Insiders say the King will be following the Government line by not issuing an apology or entering into a discussion of reparations on the trip, though Palace aides say he will ‘acknowledge the more painful aspects of the United Kingdom and Kenya’s shared history’.

‘The King will be working on his speeches for the state visit up to the last minute and always has sensitivity in mind,’ a royal source said. ‘He will be mindful of expressing deep sorrow.’

His Majesty’s deputy private secretary, Chris Fitzgerald, said: ‘His Majesty will take time during the visit to deepen his understanding of the wrongs suffered in this period by the people of Kenya.’

Hundreds of arrested Kenyans wait to be questioned after the Mau Mau camp massacres in 1950

Last year Charles, then Prince of Wales, told Commonwealth leaders in Rwanda that he could not describe ‘the depths of his personal sorrow’ at the suffering caused by the slave trade.

Charles III’s first state visit outside of Europe as King, which coincides with Kenya’s preparations to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its independence, is intended to cement the UK’s relationship with a key African ally and follows an invitation from the country’s president William Ruto. 

The visit will look to the future but also evoke poignant memories of Charles’s late mother, who was in Kenya when she became Queen, aged 25, in February 1952.

Despite the row over historic abuses, sources in Kenya said the King was generally popular in the country – and that people were ‘eager and excited’ for the trip.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

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