Sagana State Lodge: Wedding Gift That Turned Into a Presidential Residence

  • Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip at the Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri County File
  • Sagana State Lodge is one of the four, state residents where Kenya's presidents could spend time or execute official business outside State House. The three others are located in Eldoret, Kakamega, and Kisumu; Though Sagana is the most used.

    The lodge was used for several occasions in the past, the most notable being when former President Mwai Kibaki and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga used the residence to form the Grand Coalition Government Cabinet in 2008.

    According to The Telegraph, Sagana State Lodge was among the 2,500 gifts that the people of Kenya gave to Queen Elizabeth II as a leased wedding present, when she married Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey on November 20, 1947.

    Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip at the Sagana Lodge. They were gifted the residence on a lease for their wedding.
    Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip at Sagana State Lodge. They were gifted the residence on a lease for their wedding.

    Queen Elizabeth, 21 years of age at the time, did not visit the residence till February 1952.

    That year (1952), King George VI, the Queen's father passed on while she was at the Treetops Hotel in Nyeri.

    However, it was at the royal residence, now Sagana State Lodge, that Queen Elizabeth was informed of her father's demise, and that she would be queen.

    According to The Guardian, the royal couple resided in Sagana in fear of ridicule, when she was on the brink of cancelling her African leg of a world tour that included New Zealand and Australia, over concerns of insecurity.

    The fears were substantiated. The Mau Mau maintained a heavy presence in Central Kenya, Nyeri in particular, and a State of Emergency was declared later that year.

    The Sagana State Lodge. Queen Elizabeth was informed of her father's death in 1952 while at the residence
    The Sagana State Lodge. Queen Elizabeth II was informed of her father's death in 1952 while at the residence

    The trips to New Zealand and Australia were cancelled following the death of King George VI.

    In 1963, after Kenya gained independence, the royal residence that is today Sagana State Lodge was handed to the Kenyan government. It was among several other official residences that were declared protected zones in 1976. 

    In 2016, President Uhuru Kenyatta graced the Sagana State Lodge in a two-day conference, where he engaged governors and senators on the achievements and challenges of devolution. 

    On November 15, 2019, the president was scheduled to hold a meeting with leaders from the Mt Kenya region.