NAIROBI, KENYA — On the second day of his state visit to Kenya, Britain’s King Charles honored Africans who served with British forces during the two world wars before he headed to an urban forest to help highlight the crucial role of green spaces in cities.
Charles and Queen Camilla honored World War II veterans Wednesday at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in Kariokor. Daniel Achini, the commission's regional manager for East Africa, called the cemetery "very important to us."
"The king is here, first and foremost to honor the sacrifices of the Africans who served with the British forces during World War I and II," Achini said, "and he's here to support the noncommemorated project of the War Graves Commission where we are trying to look for records of Africans who served during WWI and commemorate them adequately."
A few veterans were present, including two said to be 104 and 117 years old, Achini told VOA.
The veterans present "served in WWII in various capacities" and "lost their medals in one way or another, so the king will be replacing those medals today," he said.
Britain's King Charles III plants a tree, with U.N. Undersecretary-General Zainab Hawa Bangura at left, during a visit to the U.N. office in Nairobi, Kenya Nov. 1, 2023.
Next was a stop at Karura Forest, an urban forest in the heart of Nairobi, to highlight the crucial role of green spaces in cities. Charles was joined by the famous Kenyan marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge. Together, they flagged off a 15k "Run for Nature" event.
A few minutes before Charles' arrival, Kipchoge said, "It's really important for the king to be here. ... If you want to perform well, you need to run in a clean environment and breathe clean air. ... This is our only home. We don't have another home to conserve. We need to take care of it. The only way to take care of it is to involve ourselves as sportsmen and sportswomen."
To honor the legacy of late Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, who ran a campaign to save Karura Forest, Charles – escorted by Maathai’s daughter, Wanjira, and local children who support environmental causes - took a walk to a tree planting site.
There, Charles planted an Elgon teak with environmental campaigner Karen Kimani, 10, a fifth-grader.
"I felt a little nervous, but it all went well," Kimani said afterward. "I am very happy, and it has been my wish, and I can't believe it happened.”
Kimani, who has already planted more than 10,000 trees, said she was chosen to lend a hand to the king after writing a letter to Buckingham Palace.
"My mom got an email that it had been accepted and that I was going to plant a tree with the king," she said.
The King was to leave Nairobi Wednesday night and head to the coastal city of Mombasa, where he’ll spend Thursday and Friday.