My day covering King Charles: Mpasho's Elizabeth Musyimi recounts

• Mpasho, like any other media house, was a beehive of activities as deliverables were clearly outlined for each and everyone involved in the coverage.

Elizabeth Musyimi
Image: Courtesy

The visit of King Charles III and Queen Camilla was no doubt one of the most high-profile events to have occurred on Kenyan soil.

After arriving in the country on Monday night, King Charles III and Queen Camilla started their four-day tour on Tuesday.

From the reception at State House, Uhuru Gardens visit, and State House banquet, to touring various areas in Nairobi and Mombasa counties, the experience of covering King Charles's first visit was one of a kind for many journalists in the country.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla being one of the most decorated leaders on earth, the Kenyan media had only one task: to deliver unmatched coverage.

Before the visit, the British High Commission organized a series of meetings with media editors to unpack what was expected.

What followed in our newsroom was a series of planning and briefings on emerging issues regarding the visit.

Mpasho, like any other media house, was a beehive of activities as deliverables were clearly outlined for each and everyone involved in the coverage.

I had an unexpected opportunity to be among those tasked with covering King Charles III and Queen Camilla live on the field.

This entailed being part of the royal entourage and breaking the news as it happens from one speaker to another and from one destination to the next.

Excited by the prospects of meeting King Charles III and Queen Camila face to face, I was humbled by the reality of the task at hand.

For sure, I have had the opportunity of interviewing big names in Kenya but the idea of one time being part of King Charles III's entourage had never crossed my mind before.

I had never covered such an event in my life as a journalist. It was a feeling of excitement coupled with the fear of uncertainty.

I was scheduled to cover the event on the second day of his visit, Wednesday, November 1, 2023.

On the said Day, the King’s program was visiting the Kariokor Cemetery, Karura Forest, and British High Commission Residence.

Journalists were first required to gather at Radisson Blu, Upper Hill, after which they were to join the Royal entourage aboard media vehicles.

That morning

Unlike other days, I woke up at 4:00 AM.

After minutes of this and that, I stepped out of the house wearing a black top, mustard wide-legged pants a Kimono Kitenge, and comfortable white sneakers.

I just wanted to be comfortable as I covered the event.

By 6:50 Am I was already in the cab headed to Radisson Blu, Upper Hill. I arrived at the hotel at 7:42 AM where I met fellow journalists at the hotel lobby.

Anxious of what the day was set to be, I engaged colleagues during which I gathered insights and assurance that it would just be fine.

We were to leave the hotel at exactly 8:50 AM, but that did not happen. It wasn't until 9:13 AM when were informed the day was set for us.

The media team was grouped into two. Kenyan media boarded two buses written "Bus A" and "Bus B." International media boarded their buses written 'UK Media'.

From Raddison Blu, Upper Hill, the Media team was accorded a police convoy that saw traffic interrupted numerous times to allow us to pass.

"I have never been in a police escort," a VOA journalist based in Kenya said to me.

For once, we experienced a VIP treatment we have often seen accorded to only the chosen few in Kenya.

It felt good as our convoy snaked various streets heading to our first destination, Kariakor Cemetry.

At Kariokor Cemetery

By 9:30 AM we were already at the Kariokor cemetery. The Kenyan army and British soldiers had already arrived.

Immediately, the media grouped into the 'pool area' and 'fixed' positions.

The media in the fixed position, would only take their content in a designated place.

The one at the pool position would move with the King but at a distant position.

Luckily for me, I was put into the pool position. See God.

A rehearsal was done to demonstrate how the whole process would go once the King arrived.

"Get to your positions, five minutes warning," said a British soldier.

At this point, the pressure from the newsroom was getting 'worser'. My editor was demanding my first story.

I was confused. Not aware of what to write. I reached out to my editor for guidance.

"Write a story of how the place looks. Security wise? Are there many people? What exactly is happening before his arrival," a response from my editor read in part.

That is how Beehive of activities at Kariokor cemetery ahead of the King Charles tour, became my first story

King Charles arrived at 10:52 AM together with Queen Camilla. 

She looked stunning in her Anna Valentina cream shirt and waisted dress with embroidered giraffe panels.

Their arrival became my second story.

After the two laid a wreath, the King proceeded to honour World War I, veteran soldiers.

As endeavoured to draft a story on one hand, my editors demanded videos and photos of the event on the other.

I was under pressure to deliver while I watched the activities closely so as not to miss a single thing. Talk of 'I can multitask' during interviews.

The queen met a group of women who gifted her a Maasai neckpiece, matching earrings and a Maasai walking stick.

The event was brief as the King headed to the United Nations.

At Karura Forest

Back to our buses, we started the journey to our next stop, Karura Forest.

The VIP treatment of police escort was with us, mark you.

Funny enough, while en route, we got lost twice as the police escorting us seemed not to have an idea of the entrance. At one point, we stopped and asked for directions.

We would later trace the direction and we reached an isolated Karura forest and immediately got into our positions.

Again, I was put into the pool area and would follow the King from a distance.

At this point, I was already thirsty. I ordered a glass of water from a catering company that had been put in place.

At this venue, the King arrived much faster than he did at Kariokor, probably because we had spent more time on the road.

The pressure for the stories, photos and videos trailed me from Kariokor cemetery to Karura Forest.

Here, the King arrived before I could file my first story. 

But before I could settle for this event, my editors were on my case demanding more stories from Kariokor Cemetry.

I was torn in between. However, I chose to focus on the event at hand and filed a couple of stories.

At this venue, journalists were allowed to record and not go live on air (Now that I think about it, I did not ask why).

Here, the King was accompanied by Prime Cabinet minister Musalia Mudavadi. He met with Wangari Maathai's daughter Wanjira Mathai and Marathoner Eliud Kipchge.

For the first time during the visit, I saw him smile and laugh with community members who had put up a market stall to explain to the king the eco-activities carried.

He flagged off a 15KM 'run for nature' event and this would be the last time I see him on his visit. Once that was done, the King had a 700m walk to a tree planting site as journalists went back to the 'venue'

Call it a day

The coverage at Karura Forest was adios for us.

Kenyan journalists were informed that we would not attend the event at the British High Commission (BHC).

We all boarded a black Noah that was organized for our return as the rest waited to leave for the reception at the BHC.

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