Kenya’s oldest safari lodge, where a young Princess Elizabeth became Queen, has closed permanently due to the pandemic

A wooden board shows the name of Treetops Lodge where Britain's Queen Elizabeth II of England stayed the night her father, the King, died and became Queen in 1952, in Aberdare Narional Park in Nyeri, Kenya, on April 10, 2021.
Season 1 of ‘The Crown’ featured the moment when a young Princess Elizabeth became Queen at Treetops. YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images
  • In February 1952, 25-year-old Princess Elizabeth became Queen when her father George VI died.
  • At the time, she and Prince Philip were visiting Kenya’s oldest safari lodge – Treetops Hotel.
  • Despite having a 90-year history, the lodge has been forced to close due to the pandemic.

Kenya’s oldest safari lodge, the place where a young Princess Elizabeth became Queen, has been forced to close its doors forever, the Times of London reports.

Treetops Hotel, once a fixture of Aberdare National Park in central Kenya, was known for its prime location above a watering hole where wildlife frequented, according to Brian Jackman’s 2012 review for The Telegraph.

The Times reports that it rose to global fame on February 6, 1952, for being the spot where 25-year-old Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were staying the evening her father King George IV died in his sleep, marking the start of her now nearly 70-year reign as Queen of England.

Jim Corbett, a big-game hunter and the Queen’s armed escort at the time, wrote the following line in the hotel’s logbook: “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,” the publication added.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip are shown around the 'Treetops' hotel by Richard Prickett on November 13, 1983 near Sagana in Kenya. It was thirty two years beforehand that the Queen had been staying at 'Treetops' when she learnt of her father's death and that she had become monarch. This return was a part of a 'Royal Tour' of Kenya
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip returned to Treetops in 1983, 32 years after her fathers death. David Levenson/Getty Images

Originally built in 1932, Treetops was a seemingly special place for the Queen as she returned to visit it twice more in 1959 and 1983 along with Prince Philip, The Times reports. According to the Mail Online, the original Treetops visited by the Queen was burnt down by guerrilla fighters in 1954, two years after her first visit, and was later rebuilt.

The days spent she spent on safari enjoying the paparazzi free-stay at the resort in Kenya before learning of her father’s death were also recreated in episode two of season one of “The Crown” on Netflix, the Mail Online added. The program showed how the stay was part of a four-continent Commonwealth tour initially intended for her father, King George, to embark on before he fell ill.

Treetops was later visited by the couple’s daughter Princess Anne in 1971 during her own first solo tour, according to the BBC.

Despite its royal connections and reputation as Kenya’s oldest safari lodge, Treetops has been forced to close alongside two other historic hotels in the park due to the lingering effects of the pandemic on the country’s tourism sector. Kenya Wildlife Service reported a 90% drop in tourist revenue since travel restrictions were imposed, according to the Times, leaving the parks and reserves especially hard-hit.

Representatives for Buckingham Palace and Kenya’s Tourism Department did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.