The British know how to throw a good party, and for sure, they did last Thursday in Nairobi at the Muthaiga residence of the British High Commissioner to Kenya, His Excellency Nicholas (Nic) James Hailey in honor of the 93th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.
The over 500 guests who included people who between them, have woven the rich fabrics of connections between the UK and Kenya, from High ranking Government Officials, to the business community, and fellow diplomats from other countries, the British community living in Kenya, and the media just to mention but a few, were treated to a spectacle of all things British from food, to entertainment to drinks and so much more Including the stirring sounds of Bagpipes and copious amounts of Gin, a popular drink which has reportedly been drunk in the UK since the late 1600s.
The garden, venue of the party, was decorated with pictures of Her Majesty, the Union Flag and flowers provided by British firm Flamingo Horticulture. Flamingo’s Kenyan farms cover a combined total of 1,856 hectares, on which they grow beautiful flowers and fresh vegetables. Flowers picked on their Naivasha farm end up on UK supermarket shelves in just 96 hours. The cup cakes in the Union Flag colors was a delightful addition to the night’s delicacies.
There was a beautiful luxurious Bentley Bentayga on display, provided by Porsche Centre Nairobi Limited and it simply took our breath away.
The Chef put together a Brit-friendly menu which included among others, smoked salmon, fish and chips, whole roast, roast lamb, Yorkshire pudding, bread and butter pudding, vegetable lasagna, cauliflower cheese quiche, scotch eggs, honey glazed ham, whole brie in Filo Pastry, Mini steak and Guinness Pie, whole ox with Onion Gravy and so much more, to accompany the wonderful gin cocktails, beers, champagne and wine that flowed all evening long.
The Kenyan Army Band put on a magnificent performance as did Atemi Oyungu and her band, who performed several songs by British artists on the night including Adele, Queen and the Beatles. The tracks were especially arranged and rehearsed for the QBP performance.
Celebrations to mark this very auspicious birthday have been held around the Commonwealth as well as in Great Britain.
In his speech, Nic Hailey announced that this was his last Queen’s Birthday Celebrations in Nairobi, Kenya. “This is my fourth Queen’s Birthday Party in Nairobi and sadly my last. It has been the greatest privilege to represent my country in Kenya and to lead the amazing team at the British High Commission.” He has been the British High Commissioner to Kenya since 2015.
He paid homage to the woman in Turkana who gets a regular cash payment that she can use how she chooses – to support her family, maybe start a small business or send a child to school to the British squaddie who, at 19, had never left his home country until he came to train here in Kenya – and of the things he saw here that forever changed his perspective on the world, to Peter Ndegwa, who went from East Africa Breweries in Kenya to run Diageo’s Nigeria business, and was last year promoted to head the company’s European operations based in Amsterdam – the first African to take on that role.
His final words, “And let me thank all of you. Because tonight is about saying thank you, and through you to thousands more of our friends, colleagues and partners who help write every day the stories of success that come from the UK’s partnership with Kenya.”
The Queen celebrates two birthdays each year: her actual birthday on 21 April and her official birthday on (usually) the second Saturday in June. Official celebrations to mark the Sovereigns’ birthday have often been held on a day other than the actual birthday, particularly when the actual birthday has not been in the summer. King Edward VII, for example, was born on 9 November, but his official birthday was marked throughout his reign in May or June when there was a greater likelihood of good weather for the Birthday Parade, also known as Trooping the Colour.
What a wonderful Celebration that was. All the best to Nic Hailey, the outgoing British High Commissioner to Kenya.