An armed gang hacked to death the owner of the nature reserve where Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton in Kenya.

Retired British Army Officer Lt Col David Parkinson was set upon by the mob of men wielding machetes as he slept in bed with his wife Sonja at their Lolldaiga Hills cattle ranch, in Laikpia.

Reports say the 58-year-old's hand was cut off as he fought with the gang to give his wife time to flee to a panic room. Reports say he bled to death.

Parkinson was known to Prince William via the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, where Parkinson used to be director and where the Prince spent time on his gap year when he was 19.

Prince William visited Lewa reserve twice more with Kate, including to ask to Middleton to marry him, in 2010.

Local police chief Maurice Tum said: "A fight ensured between the men and the soldier and they cut off his left hand and left him bleeding profusely.

"The wife hid in the strong room. It was this decision which saved her. She came out and found her bleeding husband and contacted the police."

"The wife - who had been tied up - managed to escape into a strongroom, only to return to find that her husband had been fatally wounded in some kind of scuffle."

Parkinson was in charge of management and development at 49,000 acre Lolldaiga Hills, as well as being director for the eastern unit of Laikipia Wildfire Forum.

Parkinson was awarded an OBE in 1998 and three decades in the Parachute regiment between 1973 and 2003.

Fellow former soldier Harry Bucknall, who served in the Army with Lt Col Parkinson, said he was "devastated" by the death of "a great friend" and "very special person indeed".

He said: "I served in the Army with David - he in the Parachute Regiment and I in the Coldstream Guards. He was a very special person, who I loved like a brother, and Sonja a wonderful ray of light. Good people who loved Kenya and did so much for the locals. They didn't deserve this."