Long standing relationship between Queen Elizabeth II, Africa

The then-Princess Elizabeth was lodging at the now-closed Treetops Hotel in a rural part of Kenya, surrounded by greenery, tall trees and wildlife, when her father, King George VI, died and she became Queen at age 25.

During Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign, she visited more than 20 African countries, and once jokingly remarked in front of a smiling Nelson Mandela that she had been to more African countries than “almost anybody”, prompting rapturous laughter from those around her.

Having inherited a vast empire spanning the African continent upon becoming Queen, her reign saw all 14 African British colonies gain their independence, starting with Ghana in 1957.

The Queen managed to maintain warm relations with them, partly through the creation of the successor organisation to the empire, the Commonwealth. In 1961, she was pictured dancing with Kwame Nkrumah, who led the campaign for Ghana’s independence and became its first president.

Notably, the word empire was omitted during her coronation oath in 1953. Now, leaders from across the continent have paid tribute to Britain’s and Commonwealth’s longest-serving monarch.

The president of the country where her journey as Queen started, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, mourned her passing in a statement, describing her as “a towering icon of selfless service to humanity and a key figurehead of not only the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth of Nations, where Kenya is a distinguished member, but the entire world”.

Although relations between Zimbabwe and the UK have been frosty for many years, prompting the late President Robert Mugabe to withdraw from the Commonwealth, his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was quick to tweet that his “deepest condolences” were with the Royal Family and “the people of the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth”.

The leader of Nigeria, the biggest of Britain’s former colonies in Africa, Muhammadu Buhari, wrote a long tribute to her on Twitter, saying he learnt of her death with “immense sadness”.

“The story of modern Nigeria will never be complete without a chapter on Queen Elizabeth ll, a towering global personality and an outstanding leader. She dedicated her life to making her nation, the Commonwealth and the entire world a better place.”

He also welcomed the ascension of His Majesty, King Charles III to the throne.

And Ali Bongo, President of the newest member of the Commonwealth, Gabon, a former French colony which only joined the club in June, has also tweeted his condolences.

Despite the outpouring of condolences from the continent’s leaders, some other Africans have spoken of their sufferings under British rule, pointing out that much of the colonisation was done in the name of the royal family. -BBC

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