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Recalling William and Kate's Secret October Engagement in Kenya

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tuesday of last week was a busy day. The Duchess of Cambridge emerged from her time away to undertake two public engagements, and all this bustle and excitement glossed over a rather significant private anniversary in William and Kate's relationship. While the couple announced their engagement to the world on November 16th, and we will all mark that day with happy reminisces in less than a month, the couple actually became privately engaged on their trip to Kenya in October. 

William and Kate travelled in Kenya for a holiday with friends, and were guests of Ian and Jane Craig at Lewa Downs, but they escaped to a remote cabin for 24 hours to get a little time by themselves. Unknown to Kate, it would also give William a chance to finally present her with his mother's priceless sapphire ring as he asked her to be his princess. Appropriately, William chose Africa--a place he would be sure to have privacy, but also a place he as often described as second in his heart only to Britain. 

Two Rutundu Log Cabins (Larger cabin on left)

William described their time in Kenya briefly in the engagement interview: "We had a little private time away together with some friends." Deep in Africa, a continent away from London and the world media, William and Kate already had plenty of room to breath free of any outside pressure, but William had made sure the two got away even from their travel companions by booking a day and night at a rustic cabin above Lake Rutundu right at the end of the trip.  He explained: "I took her up somewhere nice in Kenya, and I proposed." The Rutundu Log Cabin he chose is located on a northern slope of Mount Kenya--the tallest mountain in the country and the second tallest mountain in Africa, and provides some pretty stunning landscapes. 

Lake Rutundu Log Cabin

One guest described the experience William and Kate would have shared in the Rutundu Cabins:
Rutundu is one of the most unique experiences one can have in a country which has a plethora of unique experiences on offer. It's no wonder Prince William chose this tiny outcropping of log cabins at 10,000+ on the northeastern slope of Mt. Kenya as the place to propose to the then Kate Middleton. Nestled just above and just below two of the finest trout lakes in the region, Rutundu offers complete solitude and spectacular views-assuming the weather cooperates. Three hours in a 4Wheel drive vehicle on a rough dirt road brings you to the staging area perched on the edge of a small gorge. A zip line with basket is there for your luggage and supplies. (Did I mention these are self-catering cabins? You bring in all your food and take out all your garbage!) Guests on the other hand must climb down into the gorge and climb up the other side to get to the two delightfully rustic log cabins. There is no electricity so make sure you arrive before dark. The staff is fantastic and will take care of everything. From building fires to cooking a delicious meal at altitude to drawing a piping hot bath to ensuring you have a cozy hot water bottle tucked into your bed at night, these guides are the best! They can also show you where the fish are biting and how to avoid the buffalo while you're getting there!
View of the lake from the veranda
Kate remarked that while she had briefly mused on a proposal, she did not truly expect it to happen on the trip: "We were out there with friends and things, so I really didn't expect it at all. I thought he might have, sort of, maybe thought about it, but no. It was a total shock when it came, and...very excited." The couple sweetly signed the cabin's guest book, giving us, and history, a small glimpse into what had proved to be a momentous weekend:

Such fun to be back! Brought more warm clothes this time! Looked after so well, thank you guys! Look forward to next time, soon I hope. William
Thank you for such a wonderful 24 hours! Sadly no fish to be found but we had great fun trying. I love the warm fires and candlelights — so romantic! Hope to be back again soon. Catherine Middleton.

The two returned to the United Kingdom and were famously photographed attending Harry Meade's wedding looking like cats that had eaten the canary. The world speculated, but we had a few weeks of waiting before the exciting news would burst upon the world on the 16th of November. 


  1. Hello, Jane: I am having a little bit of a problem posting on your blog, this is my third time and hoping it will be the charm. I think it is lovely that William chose the spot for the proposal to be such a meaningful place to him. So nice to see his romantic side, although I don't know how I would have felt about a cabin with no electricity. haha. Kate seemed to love it, though.

    1. Kate definitely seems to have an outdoorsy aspect to her. When they came to Calgary for their Canadian tour they stayed in a remote mountain cabin for one night with no electricity or plumbing! At the time it was reported "wow, how outdoorsy and unpretentious they are!". But since then I have heard some murmurings that an outhouse was brought in just for their stay. Either way, outhouses aren't plumbing, so still kudos to them.

    2. Hi Anon 8:48. I am SO sorry. You are not alone. Others have also had issues and I am afraid I do not know what is up. Google doesn't have the best customer service, either...not really a number I can call. :( I am glad this one got through. Let me know if you have trouble in the future by shooting me an email princesskateblog (at) gmail (dot) com

    3. I agree...outhouses are not plumbing... :)

  2. Thank you for all the details from their secret engagement trip! I love reading all of this. You do your research so well!

    1. Thank you, Constance! Glad you enjoyed it! :)

  3. Thanks Jane for your research. Really enjoyed this post. So romantic story!

    1. I always wonder how Kate kept all her bubbly excitement in that first week... :)

  4. Hi Jane,

    Thanks for the great post, what a nice flashback!! I wanted to thank you for all the great posts during the great Kate drought!! It's so wonderful to read about her interests and her family. As most of the other Kate centered sites revolve around her fashion choices, when she isn't out and about, there is no new fashion news. But your site digs deeper than fashion and looks behind the wardrobe curtain to find the person behind the great clothes. I know we don't always agree on our perspectives but I do enjoy that we can voice our opinions here without the nastiness that can come from differing views. I think you deserve a signet/pinkie ring for your wonderful accomplishments!!

  5. I'm new to your site but LOVE IT! Thank you for your insightful posts and especially loved this one.


    1. Welcome, Penelope! Very happy you found the blog and that you enjoy it! Hope you pop in often to royal watch with me!! xoxo, jane

  6. First, kudos on the beautiful "renovation". Looks good!!

    Thanks for the extra details. I never knew what he meant by sneaking away for alone time, nor did I know there was a guestbook to prove they were actually there. I've always assumed they both signed guestbooks out of obligation on official visits. I find it interesting that they did this on private visits, especially before Kate had any public obligation. How nice! Especially since I alway sign guest books on behalf of my husband and I (not individually), lol.

    I still am fascinated how Kate referred to the awkwardness of not knowing if Carole knew she was engaged. If Michael was told first, by William, I am surprised Kate wouldn't have been on the phone with her mom 2seconds later to share the same news. I know they're a close family, which is why I find it odd how Kate referenced her chat with Carole. While being closeknit, it seems they are very independent within that unit - not often you see it like that.

    Anyhoo, thanks!


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