Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s preferred royal reporter Omid Scobie today criticized the decision to roll out the red carpet in Kenya for the King and Queen’s state visit this week – claiming it made them look “lost”.
Mr Scobie, who is friendly with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and co-authored their biography Finding Freedom, shared a photo of Charles and Camilla walking the red carpet instead of the mud at Nairobi National Park on Wednesday.
Mr Scobie claimed it made the royals look “quite ridiculous”. While admitting it may have been the decision of their Kenyan hosts – not the royals – he insisted Buckingham Palace staff could and should have stopped him.
His comments came after the Prince and Princess of Wales tour of the Caribbean last year dominated by Britain’s colonial heritage, protests and some photo errors. Once in Jamaica, William and Kate were caught in an argument about a deeply pathetic picture of them shaking hands with children through a wire fence.
Omid Scobie, who criticized Wales at the time, today tweeted the red carpet image from Kenya and questioned the “optics” for the King and Queen, saying: “Even if it was a choice made by the hosts (and it probably was), the optics of the king and queen walking a red carpet to avoid soil in Nairobi National Park is quite ridiculous and insensitive. A puzzled palace aide could easily request its removal.
He added: “I’ve been to many royal visits around the world and I’ve seen aides running around asking for last-minute adjustments or changes before the royals arrive for engagements (including red carpets that have been deemed unnecessary). so there’s a precedent for that.”
MailOnline has sought comment from Buckingham Palace.
ITV Royal editor Chris Shipp said that on the same visit to Nairobi National Park, the Queen donned hiking boots and had the chance to bottle-feed orphaned baby elephants at a sanctuary.
He tweeted Mr Scobie and said: “Kenyans were very keen on the red carpets. I saw more of them here than on any other royal tour. But otherwise agree, this looks strange.
The four-day trip to Kenya, which ended today, is being hailed as a success. While Kate and William’s trip to the Caribbean was seen as one that required lessons to be learned after a series of photo gaffes and protests.
The King and Queen used their trip to East Africa to deal head-on with the Empire’s “painful” legacy.
This week he told the Kenyan people of his “greatest sorrow and deepest regret” for Britain’s “heinous and unjustified acts of violence” during the colonial era.
In a keynote speech that went far further than many expected amid calls for an apology for government abuses during his late mother’s reign, King Charles said there was “no excuse” for Britain’s “mishandling” in the east African nation , especially against the Mau Mau Rebellion.
Speaking at a state banquet in Nairobi, he told Kenya’s president and 350 guests: “The intimacy of our shared history is what brought our people together. However, we must also acknowledge the most painful moments of our long and complicated relationship.
“The misdeeds of the past are the cause of the greatest sorrow and deepest regret. There were heinous and unjustified acts of violence committed against Kenyans while they were waging, as you said at the United Nations, a painful struggle for independence and sovereignty – and there can be no excuse for that.”
Charles continued: “Returning to Kenya, it is very important for me to deepen my own understanding of these mistakes and to meet some of those whose lives and communities were so badly affected.
“None of this can change the past. But by talking about our history with honesty and openness, perhaps we can demonstrate the strength of our friendship today. And in this way, we can hopefully continue to build an ever closer relationship in the years to come.
The king refused a direct apology, which carries greater legal culpability because it is not British government policy.
His words came as President Ruto made an even more emphatic address – and hinted at further demands for reparations.
He said Britain and Kenya could not “live in denial of history” and highlighted the “displacement, dispossession and disenfranchisement of indigenous Africans, paving the way for brutal colonialism”.
The president described Britain’s attempts to suppress the Kenyan people’s struggle for independence as “monstrous in its cruelty” and made it clear that he considered the £20 million paid out by Britain so far in compensation to victims of torture and repression as inadequate.
“While there have been efforts to atone for the death, injury and suffering inflicted on Kenyan Africans by the colonial government, much remains to be done to achieve full reparations,” he said.
But he praised the king for his “visionary leadership” on the issue, saying: “Your exemplary courage and willingness to shine a light on the uncomfortable truths that lie in the darker areas of our shared experience is … commendable.
“This is an extremely encouraging first step, under your leadership, to progress beyond the tentative and ambiguous half-measures of recent years.”
“We are therefore confident that under your visionary leadership, Kenya-UK relations will continue to prosper to the benefit of our two countries and peoples.”