Mandela called her "Lizzie"

AShe once went to bed in Kenya as a princess. After waking up she was queen. The then 25-year-old Elisabeth was with her husband Prince Philip on safari in Kenya's Aberdare National Park when she learned of the death of her father, King George VI, on February 6, 1952. The young couple wanted to observe wild animals.

Claudia Bröll

Political correspondent for Africa based in Cape Town.

As a friend of Prince Philip later reported, before dawn that day, she climbed to a vantage point in the treetops and watched an eagle soar in the sky. This was around the time of their father's death, of which they of course had no idea several thousand kilometers away. Elisabeth and Philip had in the wilderness in Kenya learned of the monarch's death later than most of the world public. This happened later in the day at a lodge. There, Prince Philip first learned of the death of the king and brought the sad news to his wife in the garden. A few hours later, the two traveled back to Great Britain.

As the world mourns the death of Britain's Queen, no commentator in Kenya fails to point out that she became Queen in East Africa. The black and white film recordings of their visit at that time are shown on television again and again. Elizabeth II has since visited Kenya three more times: in 1972, 1983 and 1991.

Elizabeth and Prince Philip spent the night in this treetop hotel when King George VI.  passed away

Elizabeth and Prince Philip spent the night in this treetop hotel when King George VI. passed away

Image: dpa

Conversely, the African continent has been of particular importance to the British Queen throughout her lifetime. Elisabeth's friendship with Nelson Mandela, who was probably the only foreign head of state who was allowed to address her by her first name without a title. A few years ago, Mandela's daughter Zindzi revealed how familiar the two were with each other. Accordingly, the former resistance fighter against apartheid and later South African queen even had a nickname for the British queen: Lizzie. She signed letters to Mandela with "Your sincere friend, Elizabeth R."

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