NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — King Charles III met with religious leaders Friday to promote peace and security in Kenya during the last day of his four-day trip.
The king spent a rainy Friday morning touring Mandhry Mosque, East Africa’s oldest mosque, before meeting with Christian, Hindu, Muslim and African traditional faith leaders in an Anglican cathedral in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa. The region has seen an increase in radicalization and militants kidnapping or killing Kenyans.
Kenya celebrates the 60th anniversary of its independence in December after decades of British rule. The two countries have had a close — though sometimes challenging — relationship since the Mau Mau revolution, the prolonged struggle against colonial rule in which thousands of Kenyans died.
Although he didn’t explicitly apologize for Britain’s actions in its former colony, Charles expressed earlier in the visit his “greatest sorrow and the deepest regret” for the violence of the colonial era, citing the “abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence” committed against Kenyans as they sought independence.
Protesters demanding the king’s apology for colonial abuses and reparations to victims were stopped by police during the first day of the trip. A planned press conference by victims of human rights abuses by British forces training in Nanyuki town was forcefully canceled by police.
Charles’ trip is his first state visit to a Commonwealth country as monarch, and one that’s full of symbolism. Charles’ mother, the late Queen Elizabeth II, learned that she had become the U.K. monarch while visiting a game preserve in the East African nation — at the time a British colony — in 1952.
At Charles’ meeting with the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics at the Mombasa Memorial Cathedral, a plaque marking his visit was unveiled.
Meanwhile, Queen Camilla met with staff, volunteers and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence at the offices of a women’s advocacy organization called Sauti ya Wanawake, Swahili for “the Voice of Women,” to share her own experience working with survivors and learn how the group supports people who have suffered such attacks. She was gifted a Swahili shawl locally known as a kanga.
Later, the royal couple visited Fort Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built by the Portuguese in the 1500s, and met local artists whose works were on display there. The king and queen were treated to a coastal Mijikenda community ceremonial dance at the fort before boarding a tuktuk — an electric motorized rickshaw — for a photo opportunity before they were seen off by Kenyan President William Ruto at Mombasa’s Moi International Airport to conclude the visit.
Earlier in the visit, Charles met with families of well-known Kenyan freedom fighters. While at the coast, the king observed a drill by an elite unit of British-trained Kenya marines and visited conservation projects.
In Nairobi, the royal couple were treated to an eight-course dinner at the state banquet and enjoyed a safari drive at the Nairobi National Park. The king had a taste of street food while meeting young entrepreneurs and innovators while the queen bottle-fed an orphaned baby elephant. The king also showed off some Swahili language skills during his speeches at the state banquet hosted by President Ruto.
Also during the visit, Britain announced 4.5 million pounds ($5.5 million) in new funding to support education reforms in Kenya.
Kenyan media covered most of the royal couple’s engagements live. Excitement was evident among those who encountered them, with chants such as “long live the king” heard at various locations.