Treetops Hotel Where Princess Elizabeth Became Queen Closes

Queen Elizabeth at Treetops hotel in 1983
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Written by See Africa Today

Treetops Hotel, Kenya’s oldest safari lodge located in the Aberdare in Nyeri has shut down. This is the hotel that Princess Elizabeth became Queen – Queen Elizabeth –  following her father’s death.

The Queen was on a vacation to Kenya and perched on a treehouse whiling away time as a Princess. But then, news of her father’s death – King George VI – got to her, and she came down a Queen from a Princess.

This scene is recreated in the top-selling series The Crown.

Why Did Treetops Hotel Shut Down?

Nearly nine decades since it opened, Treetops Hotel took to shut down follow hard economic times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 90 percent of the hotel’s revenue dipped due to the pandemic that hit the world in early 2020.

Treetops is a casualty, just like many other hotels that shut their doors due to revenue challenges.

It is the oldest safari lodge in the country, dating back to pre-independence. The establishment is situated on the farthest end of a watering hole at the Aberdare National Park.

The hotel was destroyed during guerilla warfare in the pre-colonial era but was later rebuilt as an exotic safari lodge.

What’s The Story Between Treetops Hotel And Queen Elizabeth?

In 1952, a then young, charming Queen Elizabeth made history with her visit to Kenya accompanied by Prince Philip.

Queen Elizabeth chose to stay in the Aberdare, beneath the foothills of Mount Kenya and booked herself at the Treetops Lodge set up in the amazing Aberdare National Park.

Prince Phili with Queen Elizabeth at Treetops Hotel

Prince Philip with Queen Elizabeth at Treetops Hotel. [Photo/Getty Images]

Her memories of the visit remain deep in the hearts of Kenyans as it was during her visit that her father, King George VI, passed on. She got wind of the news while at the safari lodge’s three-bedroom tree house perched on a gigantic fig tree.

According to history, Elizabeth was never destined to be king. It all happened due to a decision by her elder brother King Edward VIII to give up the throne and marry an American divorcee.

Edward was love-struck by Wallis Simpson, and he married her against incompatibility standards as the head of Church of England.

It is against these developments that Elizabeth became the presumptive heir after her father’s death.

As captured in episode two of the thrilling series – The Crown – a bubbly Elizabeth was busy snapping photos of rhinos. Her camera was in hand, and she had beautiful shots given her vantage point on the treehouse.

Then, Jim Corbett, one of her armed escorts broke the news of her father’s death.

He fondly wrote on Treetops logbook that this was a historical moment for the monarchy.

“For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into the tree as a princess and climbed down as a queen.”

Who Owns Treetops Hotel?

Brit Eric Walker, who served as Baden-Powell’s private secretary, is the brains behind Treetops Hotel. With his wife, Lady Bettie – Earl of Denbigh’s daughter – they came up with the hotel’s concept.

Walker also established Outspan Hotel in Nyeri – a sister hotel to Treetops. The couple that lived in Kenya hosted Queen Elizabeth during one of her visits.

As Elizabeth enjoyed capturing photos of waterbucks and rhinos in the Aberdares, some of her guards stayed at the Outspan Hotel. It was the first place where news of King George VI’s got to in 1952.

Treehouse in Treetop Nyeri

Treehouse in Treetop Nyeri. [Photo/Getty Images]

How Queen Elizabeth Stay Elevated Treetops Hotel’s Status

Treetops hotel became famous among global travelers after the royal visit by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

It quickly gained recognition as a leading treehouse globally with two other visits by the Queen and the Prince.

Walker never allowed the press into the premises in a bid to offer his guests privacy.

Even after Kenya’s freedom fighters, the Mau Mau burnt down the hotel in 1954; but Walker rebuilt it.

This time, he designed it at the edge of a watering hole at the Aberdare National Park.

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About the author

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See Africa Today

Pharis Kinyua is the editor of See Africa Today. With over seven years of experience in digital media, he has a soft spot for African tours and travel. His drive is to tell the rest of the world what Africa offers, the best accommodation facilities, national parks, culture, shopping malls and best airline deals to travel to Africa

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