When Clarence House announced that Prince William had proposed to Kate Middleton in a continent he regards as his “second home”, Kenya’s travel and tourism industry received the ultimate endorsement.
Whilst on holiday in Kenya last month, the 28-year-old prince pulled out all the stops to make the moment all the more special for his future bride.
According to royal sources, he asked for Kate’s hand by a secluded lake on the slopes of Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest mountain.
With two of the mountain’s lakes – Lake Alice and Lake Michaelson – only accessible by helicopter, it is thought that RAF pilot William flew Kate to the romantic location by borrowed helicopter.
And there, more than 12,500ft above sea level, he proposed, against the spectacular backdrop of the Rift Valley.
(Prince William and Prince Harry meet communities affected by AIDS in Lesotho)
In June this year, William and his brother Prince Harry undertook their first official joint overseas trip, travelling to southern Africa.
In Botswana, William said on footage shot for a documentary: “Africa’s the perfect place to come. The locals haven’t a clue who I am and I love that.”
He added: “When I step off the plane I’m like, ‘Yes, I’m back’.
“I know I’m here to work, but you can’t help feeling like that. Africa is my second home.
(Prince Harry visits minefields in Mozambique)
In Kenya, William’s grandmother, made history in 1952 when she learnt she had become queen. The young princess had been staying at the Treetops lodge in Nyeri with husband Prince Phillip when her father George VI died.
William and Kate’s favourite destination in Kenya in the past has been the Lewa Downs game reserve, owned by the parents of Jecca Craig — William’s close friend and rumoured ex-girlfriend.
The prince spent several months working there during his gap year between Eton and St Andrews.
Out of Africa
In 1995 the Craig family turned their entire farm on the northern slopes of Mt Kenya into the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, with a mandate to conserve the wildlife of Kenya.
Lewa Downs is now an area of outstanding natural beauty with the Lewa River giving life to dense woodland and patches of open savannah providing the perfect habitat for a whole range of Kenya’s animals.
(Lewa is home to 10 percent of Kenya’s black rhino population)
The 65,000 acre conservancy now supports an impressive array of wildlife, much of it indigenous to the area. The area has more than a quarter of the world’s threatened Grevy’s zebra (there are approximately only 3,000 left). It is most renowned for its rhino conservation, including 32 indigenous black and 33 white rhino.
Wills and Kate stayed in Lewa Safari Camp within the conservancy, with outstanding game viewing, and spectacular views to Mt. Kenya to the south and arid lowlands to the north. Each tent has a thatched roof, verandah and full en suite bathroom, very much in the ‘Lewa’ style.