Prince Harry followed in his mother’s footsteps today when he walked through a partially cleared minefield in Angola. Wearing protective body armor and a visor, Harry walked through a former artillery base near the south eastern town of Dirico where he detonated a mine.
Harry’s visit was organized by the HALO Trust, a British and American charity working with the Angolan government to make the country landmine free by 2025. The Duke was given a safety briefing and told to stay on the cleared lanes and not to touch anything. The area was mined during the Angolan civil war and is only now being cleared to enable safe access for the local community, wildlife, conservation personnel, and eventually, eco-tourism.
In a speech to mark the visit the duke described landmines as «an unhealed scar of war.» «By clearing the landmines we can help this community find peace, and with peace comes opportunity,» he said.
The duke then flew to Huambo where he visited the city’s Princess Diana Street, the very same area his mother walked in 1997 to focus the world’s attention on landmines. It was once a dangerous minefield but is now a vibrant community, and Harry walked past a tree named in honor of his mother. This afternoon Harry will meet with a team of female de-miners who have helped transform the area and visit the Princess Diana Orthopedic Center.
Prince Harry walks through a minefield on a visit to see the work of landmine charity the Halo Trust, on day five of the royal tour of Africa.
Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage. When Diana visited Angola to raise awareness about landmines, she faced criticism but insisted it was a humanitarian crisis that needed the world’s attention. The area she walked through was at the time a war-ravaged landscape where mines had left thousands of people seriously injured and many without limbs. The photographs taken on the morning of January 15, 1997 became of the most iconic and powerful images taken of the Princess, and she later announced her support for a global ban on mines. Later that year it came to fruition in the form of Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, also known as the Ottawa Treaty.
On Thursday, the Sussexes' social media manager, who accompanied them on the ten-day tour, posted a message on their Instagram page about the trips significance to Harry. «The Duke is humbled to be visiting a place and a community that was so special to his mother, and to recognize her tireless mission as an advocate for all those she felt needed her voice the most, even if the issue was not universally popular,» the post read.
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It is the Duke’s second visit to Angola. He visited the Cuando Cubango region in 2013 to see the work of the HALO Trust first hand. When he was 18, Harry promised that he would finish the work his mother started and has since spoken publicly and passionately on the issue. In April 2017, he launched the Landmine Free 2025 campaign with the HALO Trust.
Prior to the civil war, Angola was home to around 200,000 elephants, possibly the highest number in Africa. The country has the ability to provide elephants with the largest home range remaining in Africa however the Luengue-Luiana National Park is now a lethal migration route for these animals. In Dirico Thursday, Harry also stayed true to his passion for wildlife and British Commonwealth initiatives when he dedicated the Luengue-Luiana National Park to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, a network of forest initiatives.