Nairobi News

GeneralMust Read

King Charles’ visit: The history of the red carpet and Kenya’s love for rolling it out

By Winnie Mabel November 2nd, 2023 2 min read

British monarchs King Charles III and his wife, Queen Camilla are currently in Kenya on a four day state visit beginning October 31, 2023.

With a full itinerary, the royals have been traversing Nairobi County on several stops and are set to head down to Mombasa County on their final day.

Since they landed in Nairobi, President William Ruto and his Kenya Kwanza government continue to go to great lengths to ensure the monarchs do not endure dusty or muddy shoes in this ongoing rainy season by laying out the red carpet for them at all locations- including a green one as they planted trees at separate locations including State House Nairobi.

In one of their visits, Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua also accommodated the royals by ensuring a red carpet also awaited them while they were driven around the Nairobi National Park in Lang’ata Constituency and made their final stop after the drive.

This, especially, caught the attention of Kenyans who wondered why one would require a red carpet in a park where safari activities were rough and had bare minimum luxury at best. Mind you, the King was dressed to the nines in a two piece suit and dress shoes, accompanied by the Queen who at least donned low heeled ankle boots

See, Kenya has a love for rolling out the red carpet for the most mundane reasons including the President walking from the airport to the plane, getting down from his vehicle and walking to his seat, having an entire dais covered in red carpet, politicians adopting the same and society’s persons considered important also accorded the same. Rolling out the red carpet is a tale as old as time in Kenya.

Nairobi News now dives into the history of the red carpet and why people considered to have power often have it rolled out for them.

Ancient history has it that the use of red carpets by very important persons dates back to 458 BC Greece. In the ancient Greek play, Agamemnon, named after King Agamemnon, upon his return from the Trojan War that took place between 1194–1184 BC, a red carpet was rolled out for him but things did not end well. The Greek believed the red carpet was meant for their gods who were to walk on them to avoid touching the ground like mortals did. The moment King Agamemnon walked on the red carpet, the gods did not spare him. It was believed that the gods killed anyone who walked on the red carpet.

As time passed by, however, only religious leaders and royalty- and no one of low birth- were allowed to walk on them because the red color, at the time, was made from expensive, red dye made from cochineal insects.

In modern society, the red carpet is now rolled out for anyone with power or assumed to have power. In entertainment circles, it is used by celebrities to signify their ‘powerful’ roles in the industry to separate them from their fans while in select Kenyan government offices, some paths, stairs and offices are covered in red carpet to signify that one is entering a very senior office where power is wielded at the snap of a finger.

Also read: Nyota Ndogo, Willy M. Tuva mourn ‘Maria’ hitmaker Ally B

Kenya Medical Union drags Nairobi Hospital boss to court