Our Guest of Honour, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Honorable Mutahi Kagwe, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, All protocols are being followed.

Hamjambo

I am delighted to welcome you all to this celebration of the Queen’s birthday. This year is a double celebration, as we not only mark Her Majesty’s 96th birthday, but also her Platinum Jubilee, marking a phenomenal 70 years on the throne.

The Queen has been on the throne longer than any other monarch in British history, becoming a much loved and respected figure across the world. She’s been on the throne for over 90%, those of you here tonight were born.

Her extraordinary reign saw her travel more widely than any other monarch, making more than 260 official visits abroad, including nearly 100 state visits. She was Britain’s greatest diplomat, affirming old relationships and building new ones.

Her Majesty’s connection to Kenya has always been very special.

You all know the story of how a young Elizabeth, in 1952, climbed a tree as a princess and came down as a queen. She then visited this country in 1972, 1983 and 1991 – demonstrating the continued importance of the Commonwealth and the special relationship our two countries share.

She was part of this rich history that links the United Kingdom and Kenya. As I said to His Excellency, President Kenyatta, when I presented my credentials almost three years ago, it is a relationship that includes times of great joy and great pain. It is through this history that our peoples, our businesses and our governments have forged close and lasting ties.

Amid global crises, we have continued to work together to deliver global solutions in critical areas such as education, health, climate, trade and investment.

Kenya remains of absolutely vital importance to the UK, with President Kenyatta having made three visits to the UK in the past two years, where he and Prime Minister Johnson have shared the global stage on development issues , education and climate (AIS, GES, COP26) .

In January 2020, His Excellency and Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed on a strategic partnership with five pillars: mutual prosperity; security and stability; Sustainable development; climate change; and people to people. To illustrate this, I would like to take a moment to highlight a few examples of celebrating our partnership.

But don’t worry, I’ve only selected a few highlights and trivia. You would still be here at midnight if I listed all areas of cooperation.

  • Trade between the two countries amounts to approximately KES 165 billion per year, and the UK is Kenya’s 5th largest trading partner (i.e. importer of Kenyan goods). Our relationship is balanced: the UK imports as much from Kenya as it exports.

  • More than forty percent of UK tea imports come from Kenya. My Prime Minister likes to say that every other cup of tea we drink in the UK comes from Kenya;

  • The UK imports around 30,000 tonnes of vegetables and 19% of flowers from Kenya each year. For vegetables alone, that’s the equivalent of almost 2,400 big red London buses.

  • 150 UK companies are currently in Kenya, benefiting over 250,000 Kenyans directly employed by UK organisations.

  • We have a strong network of over 1,755 UK alumni and fellows in universities, defense and security in Kenya. Over 500 of them are Chevening Scholars and – quick announcement – ​​applications will open shortly for the next round of Chevening Scholarships. Look at my Twitter feed.

  • In 2021, despite COVID-19 restrictions, around 50,000 UK residents visited Kenya, making the UK the fourth largest source market for visitors. Hopefully we can hit the 200,000 mark by 2023.

  • I will let our wonderful guest speaker, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, talk about our amazing partnership in health, so as not to repeat what he will say.

We will continue to work with Kenya to help facilitate private sector investment in Kenyan infrastructure. We will continue to increase UK investment in value-added activities here and support the ‘Made in Kenya’ brand. We will increase the volume of trade through the UK-Kenya Trade Agreement. We will provide UK funding for Kenya’s trade infrastructure to enable exports to happen more cheaply and efficiently.

We will continue to support a range of policy and regulatory reforms, including upholding the importance of the rule of law, promoting transparency, protecting human rights and fighting corruption.

Before I come to the final thanks, I wanted to share a memory I had of meeting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. It was 2014, I was the UK Ambassador to Yemen, and four of us Ambassadors had an exclusive audience with Her Majesty.

We drove into Buckingham Palace and were escorted up the stairs from a grand hall to the more private rooms. A protocol officer taught us the proper way to enter the room – three steps, then a bow or a politeness.

As we were escorted to see Her Majesty, I could see some of her corgi dogs playing happily on the plush red carpets in the hallway.

I walked into the room, immediately forgot how to count to three, bowed and took my assigned seat. I was fortunate to have 15 minutes one-on-one with Her Majesty.

I explained that I was his ambassador to Yemen and that we were planning to celebrate 60 years of his visit to Aden. “Yemen.” said His Majesty thoughtfully. She then proceeded to talk about her 1954 visit as if it had happened the day before – the ancient volcanic crater of Aden and the welcome and hospitality of the sheikhs. I was impressed and honored to hear such memories directly from my Head of State.

That’s enough memories for me. Before concluding, let me thank our sponsors for their contribution to this event and check their names:

Our wonderful Gold Contributors are:

I would also like to thank everyone who participated in the organization and support of this evening. Big hugs please for:

Those providing the music here tonight:

  • Defense Military Band of Kenya
  • BM Entertainment
  • British High Commission Community Choir

AAR Ambulance and all security teams to keep us safe

And Nairobi Photo Booth for helping create great memories.

Finally, and most importantly, thank you to each of you here this evening for having established special ties by weaving the rich fabric that unites our two countries.

Asante sana.