King Charles III observes marine drill and visits conservation projects in coastal Kenya

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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — King Charles III observed a drill by an elite unit of British-trained Kenya marines and took an interest in environmental projects in the coastal city of Mombasa on Thursday, the third day of his first state visit to a Commonwealth country as monarch.

Earlier in the visit, Charles cited the “abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence” committed against Kenyans as they sought independence, though he didn’t explicitly apologize for Britain’s actions in its former colony as many had wanted.

Charles, who holds the rank of Captain General of the Royal Marines, and Queen Camilla visited the Mtongwe Naval Base in Mombasa on Thursday. The British monarch inspected an honor guard and together with Kenya’s President William Ruto attended a military ceremony.

The king later visited a turtle conservation site at Nyali beach in Mombasa and saw how organizations are cleaning up the ocean and using plastic waste to make dhows, school desks and chairs.

A youth group that educates young people about marine conservation gave the king a badge recognizing him as an environmental “warrior.” The king also visited a coral restoration project and fixed a coral on an artificial nursery structure that was taken out to the ocean by a boat as he watched on.

READ MORE: In Kenya, King Charles III plans to acknowledge ‘painful aspects’ of Britain’s colonial past

The king and queen had earlier watched as Kenya Marines demonstrated a covert beach landing, after which they met the marines and their families.

Kenya and the United Kingdom have a longstanding defense cooperation agreement and in May this year, they partnered to create the first marine military commando unit meant to boost the Kenyan military as an anchor of East Africa’s regional stability and security.

Kenya and Somalia have faced militant attacks from al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab, including in Mombasa,.

A marine conservation expert, Neville Agesa, told The Associated Press that the king’s visit was a “big boost to marine conservation efforts by the community” and sends a message to local political leaders to visit projects at the coast and “move the discussion away from the boardrooms to real action.”

“The visit has also sold the projects to the world, and this can help push for resources and encourage resilience among the communities,” he said.

The king will wrap up his visit to Kenya on Friday.

Kenya is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its independence this year. It has had a close but at times challenging relationship with Britain after the prolonged struggle against colonial rule, sometimes known as the Mau Mau Rebellion, in which thousands of Kenyans died.

On Wednesday, Charles held a private meeting with the family of the executed leader of the Kenyan rebellion against British colonial rule, Dedan Kimathi, and also met with families of other well-known Kenyan freedom fighters.

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