Prince William popped over to Kenya a couple of months ago, over the Easter weekend, to attend his close friend Jecca Craig’s wedding. Kate Middleton, perhaps understandably, opted to stay at home with her young children (though she might have been a bit mad about having to do the Easter egg hunt solo). But this wasn’t the first time that Kate bowed out of a trip to Kenya. For me, coming to live in East Africa the day after my wedding was a massive culture shock and I do sometimes ask myself what Kate really thought of her super ‘romantic’ and ‘thrilling’ 3 week trip to Kenya when Wills proposed way back in October 2010. Perhaps she did not love the Kenya experience quite as much as he seems to always relish it. #justsaying
What I’ve noticed is, when in your twenties, the men in your life often have a very different concept of what their girlfriend, fiancé or bride might consider ‘the trip of a lifetime’ and at around that time, the wives and girlfriends will put up with quite a lot to please their man. My husband booked an eco-lodge in Zanzibar in February for our honeymoon. For ‘eco’ read remote location, no air conditioning, few fellow guests and no en-suite bathrooms. We were both horribly ill with d and v, and reaching the bathroom by candlelight was not easy. If I’d had a hand in making the arrangements, I might have steered it differently. Enough said.
To be honest, the ‘putting up with whatever he wants to do‘ changes shortly after he’s put a ring on it. Especially when kids come into the equation. Wings are clipped. Pre-kids, we had a lot of visitors here in East Africa (both to Dar es Salaam and Nairobi). Once marriage and small children were in the equation, the visits tailed off as undoubtedly the ‘Africa’ holiday was considered too far, too expensive and frankly, too risky.
However, I don’t think that Kate’s reluctance to come back to Kenya boils down solely to concern for her kids or travelling with small children. Being a bit of a royal stalker, I’ve been lucky enough to visit all three of the October 2010 royal ‘proposal holiday’ destinations that Kate went to during that 3 week trip to Kenya and I can see that there may well have been moments that weren’t exactly up Kate’s street, more familiar, as she was at that time, with Caribbean hotels or ski chalets.
First stop Lewa Downs, a large and very beautiful conservation area, or game park, in Northern Kenya where Kate and Wills (along with friends) were guests of Ian Craig and family. Wills spent a good chunk of his gap year at Lewa, as well as holidays previously, spent tracking game, driving landrovers through rivers, messing about on quad bikes and sometimes doing manual work such as helping rangers repair fences, building a nature hide etc. Perhaps flirting a bit with Ian’s daughter Jecca Craig (remember the story of the ‘mock’ engagement between Wills and Jecca), perhaps messing about with her brother Batian. The joy of Lewa for Wills would have been the fact that he was shielded from prying paparazzi there. Able to be completely himself doing work that he considered important (whereas Kate, having not had to grow up in the paparazzi spotlight, might not have found this quite such an alluring Unique Selling Point for the holiday).
Lewa is lush, full of animals and very beautiful. As VIP guests of the Craigs, he would have been treated as one of the family inside a fully staffed home where everyone has plenty of time to chat and have fun. The Craig house is made from locally sourced timber and stone with a thatched roof and large windows and open sided terraces overlooking the park. Had Wills been a bit in love with Jecca at one time? Probably. He certainly came home after his gap year was finished and threw an ‘Out of Africa’ themed 21st party where Jecca was guest of honour at the top table.
I have met and chatted to Ian Craig. He’s very concerned about conservation (as last week’s award of an OBE in the field will attest) – in fact, that’s pretty much all he wants to talk about. When Wills left Lewa after his gap year, he did so having been persuaded to become a patron of Tusk Trust, the elephant conservation charity that Ian set up to fund wildlife conservation activities in Lewa and beyond. All very worthy but wouldn’t Kate have found endless chats over conservation at her boyfriend’s ex’s house a little dull? Who knows, perhaps the effortlessly glamorous and exotic Jecca Craig was there too, rubbing salt into those wounds. Frankly, which boyfriend do you know who thinks it’s a great idea to take your soon to be fiancé to your ex’s house for a holiday? Will’s idea of heaven might have been Kate’s hell. Remember, they were not engaged when they arrived, so at this point, she was still ‘waity Katey’ after a not so distant split. This was her second visit to Kenya with Wills. The lodges within Lewa are eye-wateringly expensive, sometimes fairly basic but always exclusive.
I imagine that during the Lewa leg of that trip, here would have been some pretty legendary game viewing, sundowners, bush breakfasts, good meals and undoubtedly lots of long and possibly boring tours around various conservation projects with substitute ‘dad‘ Ian Craig. I doubt that there would have been much opportunity to let down hair on that trip. An African game park is a far cry from Bouji’s nightclub or Annabel’s. You can’t simply set out for a walk (unless it’s pre-arranged with an armed ranger). Kate is allergic to horses apparently, so no riding. Wills undoubtedly would have been in a ‘when we‘ haze of reminiscences over previous visits. Might Kate not have felt a little bored and trapped?
This article got very long so… Part 2: Fly camping in the Matthews range #nohairdryer and then a very rainy log cabin proposal at 12,000 feet (Mount Kenya) – to come.
- It’s expensive to visit Lewa but there is a cheaper option: For keen runners out there, the annual Lewa Marathon will be hosted this Saturday 25th June and participants can camp in Lewa for the weekend.
- For more information on Lewa Downs click here: www.lewa.org
- Prince William spent 3 weeks in Kenya carrying Princess Diana’s ring before he proposed in his rucksack.
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