Many of the Queen’s subjects have paid tribute to the monarch’s longevity on the throne as she celebrates her Platinum Jubilee this year.
But 92-year-old pensioner Ray Jones goes one step further by visiting the place where she learned her father, King George VI, had died and that she succeeded him: Kenya.
In fact, Ray, from Gyffin near Conwy, is preparing to visit the East African country in May for the eighth time, having first visited 30 years ago in 1992.
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It was at the seaside resort of Treetops in 1952 that Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip learned that her father, King George VI, had died and cut their tour of the country short.
And although Ray’s main passion is watching lions, cheetahs, rhinos and wildebeests, he has been to Treetops before and plans to return on his next visit.
“I think the Queen is fantastic. She has done a wonderful job over the past 70 years. Prince Charles is her obvious successor. I wish her well when the time comes,” he said.
Back at Treetops, Ray said: “Last time I was there I stayed in room #15. There’s a plaque outside room #19 that says ‘La queen room”. Not sure if you can stay there but last time we paid the guy a few bob’s he opened the door and left so we could have a look inside.
“When we go in May, I’m going to sit on the ‘toilet’ so I can say I’ve been on the ‘throne’!”
But it is of course the animals that are the real stars of the Kenyan savannah.
Ray says: “Treetops overlooks an elephant pool, where elephants and buffalo come to drink water at night. It’s seeing animals in their natural environment that I love.
He and a friend were due to visit Kenya two years ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic put their plans on hold. Luckily, the tour operator kept their booking open.
Since his first trip to Kenya, Ray and a friend have visited many places in this beautiful country.
They include game reserves such as the Maasai Mara, Nairobi and Lake Nukuru.
They also visited the former colonial home of Scouting movement founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the Outspan Hotel, which he and his wife Olave moved into in 1939, and the former home of the Danish author Karen Blixen.
His memoir Out of Africa was made into a film in 1985 starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.
Ray also went to the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi National Park, where a young calf scooped up a container of milk with its trunk and wolfed it down.
And on another occasion, Ray held a cookie in his mouth for a giraffe to grab it with its tongue.
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