Nairobi: A former British Army officer who helped run the Kenyan game reserve at which the Prince William and Kate Middleton became engaged has been killed by a machete-wielding gang.
Lieutenant Colonel David Parkinson, 58, and his wife, Sonya, who have two daughters, were attacked by a gang of armed men at their ranch as they slept in the early hours of on Sunday morning.
The hooded gunmen tied up Mrs Parkinson but she managed to escape during the struggle and lock herself in a storeroom, only to return to find her -husband's lifeless body.
Mr Parkinson, who received an OBE in 1998, was the deputy director of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy for five years from 2003.
The Duke of Cambridge fell in love with the reserve after spending part of his gap year there, describing it as one of the "happiest times" of his life.
He whisked the then Kate Middleton to the 62,000-acre sanctuary for a romantic holiday in 2005, before returning with her to propose in 2010.
The couple are good friends with the estate's owner, Ian Craig, and the Duke was once said to have dated his daughter, Jecca, with whom he remains close.
A Kensington Palace spokesman confirmed that the Duke had met Lt Col Parkinson during his travels and said he was "saddened by his death".
The Parkinsons' daughters, Renate, 20, and Anna, 23, both live in Sussex, where they grew up.
Eoghan McHugh, Renate's boyfriend, speaking from the family home in Hassocks, West Sussex, declined to comment, but said: "You can appreciate the gravity of the situation."
Lt Col Parkinson served with the Parachute Regiment for 30 years, and was chief instructor at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in the early 1990s.
He retired in 2003 and had recently been working as the manager of Lolldaiga Hills, a 49,000-acre cattle ranch and conservancy in the foothills of Mount Kenya, more than 125 miles from the capital, Nairobi. He was well known for his commitment to conservation and community development.
The region's tight-knit expatriate community was said to be deeply shaken by the news, describing Lt Col Parkinson as very popular and likable.
Anthony Mutahi Kimaru, a local MP, told The Daily Telegraph: "We are devastated by the incident. I knew him personally and he was developing very important community programmes."
Police said the assailants demanded valuables before attacking the couple.
A laptop, phone and some ornaments were reportedly missing, although friends said that little of value had been stolen.
A suspect was arrested from a nearby village following a police search with sniffer dogs.
The British Army has a training support base in the town of Nanyuki, which Lt Col Parkinson had commanded.