The diplomatic dinner saw King Charles express sorrow over "wrongdoings of the past" — but not apologize
Queen Camilla was without the ultimate royal accessory at her latest engagement: a tiara.
The Queen, 76, skipped a sparkling headpiece for the state banquet at the State House in Nairobi, Kenya, which capped the first full day of her state visit with King Charles. Buckingham Palace said that the royal couple would “acknowledge the more painful aspects of the U.K. and Kenya’s shared history” during the trip. The King, 74, used his speech at the diplomatic dinner to express “the greatest sorrow and the deepest regret” around the “wrongdoings of the past,” but he did not directly apologize on behalf of the crown as some protestors and historians demanded as the trip kicked off.
Queen Camilla shimmered in a periwinkle tunic top and palazzo-style pants by Anna Valentine, Rebecca English of the Daily Mail reported on X. In a flag-dressing nod, Rachel Ruto, first lady of the Republic of Kenya, wore a glittering red, green and black gown — the colors of the Kenyan flag.
The state visit marks the King and Queen’s first trip to a Commonwealth country since his accession upon the death of Queen Elizabeth in September 2022, arranged at the invitation of Kenyan President Dr. William Ruto. The four-day stay is also timed to the 60th anniversary of Kenya’s independence, which is officially celebrated on December 12.
By leaving her tiara at home, the Queen eliminated potential outcry around accessorizing with a visual symbol of the monarchy in a country formerly under British rule and scarred by The Emergency or the Mau Mau rebellion, which was met with a violent and brutal British-led crackdown in the 1950s.
Led mostly by the Kikuyu people, the Mau Mau rebellion against British colonial rule and internal Kenyan opposition to independence led to tens of thousands of deaths. According to the BBC, an estimated 11,000 Mau Mau rebels and others were killed, but unofficial figures estimate that there were as many as 90,000 Kenyans executed, while more than 150,000 were detained.
Looking back at the past in his speech on stage, King Charles said, "It is the intimacy of our shared history that has brought our people together. However, we must also acknowledge the most painful times of our long and complex relationship.”
"The wrongdoings of the past are a cause of the greatest sorrow and the deepest regret," he continued. "There were abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence committed against Kenyans as they waged, as you said at the United Nations, a painful struggle for independence and sovereignty — and for that, there can be no excuse."
"In coming back to Kenya, it matters greatly to me that I should deepen my own understanding of these wrongs, and that I meet some of those whose lives and communities were so grievously affected," he said. “None of this can change the past. But by addressing our history with honesty and openness we can, perhaps, demonstrate the strength of our friendship today. And, in so doing, we can, I hope, continue to build an ever-closer bond for the years ahead.”
Queen Camilla’s fashion statement could be a sign of changing times, as Queen Elizabeth wore the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara during a state banquet during her state visit to Kenya with Prince Philip in 1983. Camilla notably wore the piece for the first time for a glamorous dinner at Mansion House earlier in October, making a splash in one of her late mother-in-law’s go-to tiaras.
While there’s often hype around when Queen Camilla or Kate Middleton shimmer in tiaras for official events, they don’t always sport the sparklers. Camilla went without a headpiece for the state banquet at Versailles during her mini-tour of France in September with Charles and likely did so to coordinate with first lady Birgitte Macron.
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The royal became the second queen consort in recent weeks to likely skip a sparkler for a night out for a sensitive reason. On Oct. 18, Queen Mathilde of Belgium didn’t wear a tiara to the state banquet honoring President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal during his official visit.
The dinner fell the day after a gunman killed two Swedish nationals and injured a third in Brussels as Belgium and Sweden played in a Euro 2024 qualifier soccer game at the King Baudouin Stadium three miles away, the BBC reported. While the suspected gunman died the next day after being shot by police, authorities have since charged two men allegedly linked to the attack, Politico said.
While tiaras are traditionally worn for white-tie affairs, Queen Mathilde made a more demure style statement in the wake of the tragedy.
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