On the fifth day of his royal tour of Africa, the 35-year-old royal dad visited a HALO Trust mine site outside Dirico in Angola. He remotely detonated a mine and met with members of the community to learn how the de-mining efforts are benefitting the local population. Harry also gave a speech about the importance of clearing landmines in the context of conservation and for humanitarian reasons.
“This historic commitment is a key step forward for the movement to rid the world of mines and lay the foundation for a safe and just future for the next generation,” he said. “Landmines are an unhealed scar of war. By clearing the landmines, we can help this community find peace, and with peace comes opportunity.”
“Later today I will visit Huambo, to see the place where my mother walked through a minefield in 1997. Once heavily mined, the second city of Angola is now safe,” he added. “With the right international support, this land around us here can also be like Huambo – a landmine-free, diverse, dynamic, and thriving community, connected to and benefitting from all that it has to offer.”
Prince Harry’s visit is a stark reminder of when Princess Diana memorably walked through a landmine field filled with warning signs in Huambo, wearing protective clothing and a visor, and met with landmine survivors to raise awareness of the issue.
The event was featured on the official Instagram for Duke and Duchess of Sussex with a quote from when the prince’s mother visited the landmine site back in 1997.
“If an international ban on mines can be secured it means, looking far ahead, that the world may be a safer place for this generation’s grandchildren,” the quote read.
“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 palace said of Harry’s visit.
In 2013, the Duke joined the HALO Trust on a visit to the Cuando Cubango region in southeast Angola where he saw first-hand the impact of landmines on communities and the human suffering they cause.
Later in the day, Harry will visit the exact site where his mother walked — now a vibrant community, with several colleges, schools and small businesses.
“Photographs of the late Princess Diana visiting a de-mining site and meeting mine victims became iconic and powerful images in support of her campaign to create a global mine ban — which came to fruition in the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention that same year. On arrival, His Royal Highness will be met by the Governor of Huambo, Joana Lina, who was also the official host for the late Princess Diana’s visit,” the couple’s private secretary Samantha Cohen told reporters ahead of their Africa tour.
Speaking at a major meeting on landmines in London in June, Harry said that his experience has “showed me the importance of landmine clearance within a humanitarian emergency because, let’s not forget, landmines are a humanitarian issue — not a political one.”
Prince Harry then unveiled a plaque to mark the three-country Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project which includes Angola’s Luengue-Luiana National Park, the site of the de-mining initiative. Representatives from Botswana and Namibia will join Angolan Ministers to celebrate this unique collaboration and additional protection for National Parks all abutting the Okavango Delta, with the objective of creating safe and green corridors for wildlife and communities.