A royal tour of Kenya

A royal tour of Kenya

Sixty years ago, in February 1952, Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth’s life changed forever. She was in Kenya, on a Commonwealth tour spanning four continents, when her father, George VI, passed away. Along with her husband, Prince Philip, she had been staying at Treetops, a wooden lodge on stilts in Kenya’s Aberdare National Park, which was so remote that she did not hear the news until she reached her next destination, Sagan Lodge at the foothills of Mount Kenya.

Her guide and big-game expert Jim Corbett famously wrote in the Treetops visitors’ book: ‘For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into a tree one day a princess and, after having what she described as her most thrilling experience, she climbed down from the tree next day a queen.’

At the time, Treetops was a rickety-looking, simple two-bedroom lodge high above the ground on stilts, with a viewing platform overlooking the habitat of elephant, rhino and waterbuck. The lodge has since expanded and will reopen after renovation in April 2012.

To celebrate the landmark anniversary, a number of luxury tour operators are offering trips to Kenya in the footsteps of the Queen and Prince Philip. Bales Worldwide’s week-long journey takes travellers through the Samburu National Park and the Maasai Mara reserve, and on to Aberdare National Park, where Princess Elizabeth became a Queen.

Seven-night ‘Royal Jubilee Journey through Kenya’, from ?2,895 per person for departures on 19 April 2012 (The Queen’s birthday) and 31 May 2012 (Diamond Jubilee week) or ?3,095 per person departing on 29 March 2012 and 21 June 2012; includes flights with Kenya Airways [contact/link]. To book contact Bales Worldwide (01306 732709; www.balesworldwide.com)

Pictured: Princess Elizabeth in the gardens of Sagana Lodge in February 1952. Photo by Rex Features

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