‘She went up the tree a Princess and came down a Queen’: Tributes paid to Queen at iconic Kenyan Treetops Hotel
She was on tour of the Commonwealth in February 1952 when she stayed the night at the lodge in a three-bedroom cabin built in an ancient fig tree
NYERI, KENYA: The Kenyan safari lodge where Princess Elizabeth became the Queen paid tributes to Her Majesty following her death on Thursday, September 8. It was at The Treetops Hotel in 1952 when the 25-year-old Princess learned that she would become Queen after she got the news of her father King George IV’s death.
The Treetops Hotel located on the edge of a watering hole in Aberdare National Park is where Elizabeth, aged 25, famously “went up the tree a Princess and came down a Queen”. She was on a tour of the Commonwealth in February 1952 when she stayed the night at the lodge in a three-bedroom cabin built in an ancient fig tree. She was accompanied by her new husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. The former staff of the lodge lit candles and placed white roses along with a book of condolences to give the Queen a fitting farewell.
The moment Elizabeth became Queen showed the strength that would define her 70-year reign
Queen Elizabeth II in the morning was informed about the death of her father the previous night making her the new monarch. Amos Ndegwa, a 68-year-old ex-bush ranger whose grandfather helped build the hotel, said that the Queen had been “like a mother to him”. He added, “All the jobs I've had were because of her coming to Treetops”, as reported by The Daily Mail.
Speaking of Queen Elizabeth II’s tour at the time, British colonial authorities were putting down the Mau Mau Uprising and it was feared that young Elizabeth might become a target. Hunter and naturalist Jim Corbett had also accompanied the royal couple and spent a night with a shotgun on the lookout for leopards.
According to the Daily Mail, Corbett later wrote in the visitor’s book, “A young girl climbed into a tree one day a Princess … she climbed down from the tree next day a Queen.” For the unversed, the original treehouse was burned to the ground by Mau Mau rebels in 1954. A metal plaque remained at the location that reads, “In this Mgumu tree her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh spent the night of February 5, 1952. While here Princess Elizabeth succeeded to the throne through the death of her father King George VI.” A new hotel came up on the side of the nearby watering hole years later. The Queen visited the same in 1982. However, the hotel has remained shut since the pandemic leaving the former staff jobless.