"I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong." – Queen Elizabeth II
In 1947, on her 21st birthday, (the then) Princess Elizabeth delivered what is famously known as the 'Cape Town Speech' while undertaking a major tour with her parents in South Africa. This Thursday, Queen Elizabeth II passed away. So, today, we pay homage to the world's longest reigning monarch and look at some of Her Majesty's most memorable and moving moments in Africa.
In 1947, a Royal Tour of the Commonwealth commenced where Princess Elizabeth accompanied her parents and sister, Princess Margaret. Travelling via boat, train and plane, the tour spanned over three months covering 10,000 miles through South Africa and Zimbabwe (Rhodesia at the time).
It was during this tour where Her Majesty would deliver her impactful speech in Cape Town, making an oath to the Commonwealth, which was broadcast live over the radio for the world to hear.
Because of the emerging Apartheid Regime in South Africa – which would actually solidify the following year in 1948 – many years would pass before the future Queen would return to the country. Only in 1995, after the formation of a democratic government, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh made a State Visit to South Africa in support of reconciliation with the new South African government led by President Nelson Mandela.
More recently, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited a vibrant and transformed South Africa in 2019, experiencing the cultural and historical aspects of colourful Cape Town and its surrounds.
In February 1952, Princess Elizabeth left her ailing father, King George VI, and set off for Kenya with her husband, Prince Philip.
The Princess and Prince visited a popular spot at the time where one could view wildlife from a high vantage point called Treetop in Aberdare National Park. It was a transformative experience for both royals. However, sad news would later follow on the slopes of Mount Kenya, where Prince Phillip would relay to Princess Elizabeth the news of her father's passing. Subsequently, she was to become Queen at the age of 25.
Kenya has long remained a special place to the Royal Family, so much so that, in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton in 2010.
In 1972, the Queen visited stunning Seychelles to open the country's international airport. She toured Seychelles' largest island, Mahe, and while exploring its exquisite surroundings, she met a giant tortoise that was over 75 years old.
Later, other royals would follow. And in 2011, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Kate Middleton) selected this gorgeous tropical destination for their honeymoon escape. Enjoying the secluded, barefoot luxury of North Island – the newlyweds got to experience one of the most exclusive island retreats in the world.
At the start of her Africa tour in 1979, Queen Elizabeth II made her way to Tanzania. Although the Queen's itinerary did not allow for much exploring, when Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles visited in 2011, they embarked on a walking safari in Arusha National Park, famed for its massive elephant herds.
On top of this, in 2018, the Duke of Cambridge spent time in Tanzania as part of his duty as president of United for Wildlife and patron of Tusk Trust. During his visit, the Duke gained valuable insight into the challenges faced and the work that Tanzania is doing to combat the illegal wildlife trade.
Continuing her 1979 Africa tour, Queen Elizabeth II made her way to Botswana accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and her second son, Prince Andrew. Tribal dancers and a 21-gun salute warmly welcomed the Royals. Although this was Her Majesty's only state visit, multiple members of the Royal family have since visited Botswana.
Prince Charles made headlines in 1984 when he piloted a twin-engine aircraft and flew to Chobe Game Lodge, the only permanent safari lodge in Chobe National Park. Decades later, his sons, Princes William and Harry, would visit the country on behalf of Tusk Trust, appearing in photos depicting the young royals sitting alongside a cheetah and sporting a large live snake draped around their shoulders. Prince Harry would return in 2016, where he would stay at the magical Meno a Kwena Camp with Meghan Markle.
The final destination on the Queen's 1979 tour of Africa to Zambia was almost cut short. At the time, the presence of guerrilla forces presented too much of a risk. However, it thankfully proved to be a safe and successful trip.
The flight from Botswana flew over Livingstone, where the renowned Victoria Falls thundered below. And, upon arrival, Her Majesty was again celebrated by cheering Zambians singing and chanting 'K-K-Queenie' in honour of their royal visitor and then-president Kenneth Kaunda.
In 1991, four years after her first visit to Zimbabwe, Queen Elizabeth II returned to the country for the Commonwealth Heads of Government. This was a difficult time for the country as it was experiencing many months of drought. Coincidentally, the Queen's visit coincided with sudden heavy rainfall. Unfortunately, rainless months followed shortly after her departure and continued until the next year.
That same year, the Queen and Prince Philip visited Namibia – the monarch's first-ever trip to the youngest member of the Commonwealth. Children performed traditional dances as the royal couple arrived in Windhoek and were welcomed by Namibia's new president, Sam Nujoma.
Following the warm reception, they travelled to Ondangwa near Etosha National Park to learn more about the importance of conservation. And, continuing the Queen's legacy, Prince William visited Namibia in 2018 to work with wildlife conservation organisations and later established the Earthshot Prize.
The Queen's visit to Mozambique in 1999 was the final leg of her tour and the final country she officially visited in the 20th century. As a country filled with beauty and unspoiled coastal spaces, it was a pity that the Queen's stay lasted only for about a day. We're guessing that when royal duties are on the agenda, Her Majesty's schedule must've been strained.
Luckily, in 2010, Prince Harry returned to magnificent Mozambique with The Halo Trust to continue the work of his mother, Princess Diana.
Follow in Her Majesty’s Footsteps
From celebrating her 21st birthday during her visit to South Africa to learning about her father's death and her ascension to the throne whilst in Kenya, the Queen had many big moments in Africa. Furthermore, she also undertook important and impactful duties in numerous African countries whilst on her royal tours.
There's no doubt that Queen Elizabeth II had a special relationship with Africa, and she'll forever be in our hearts. Reach out to us if you would like to relive the memory of Her Majesty's journey through Africa.
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