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Prince Harry pays tribute to British Guardsman, killed while protecting elephants from poachers

Prince Harry today said he was ‘honoured’ to lay a wreath at a memorial for a British soldier who was killed while protecting elephants from poachers in Malawi.

The Duke of Sussex has paid tribute to hero Matthew Talbot, 22, of the Coldstream Guards, in a moving ceremony on day eight of the royal tour of Africa. 

Guardsman Talbot, died in Malawi’s Liwonde National Park on May 5, and was part of the British Army’s counter-poaching team, on his first operational deployment.

The patrol of armed British soldiers and African park rangers was walking through tall grass when they disturbed an unseen herd of elephants. One of them charged at Gdsm Talbot who died soon after from his injuries. 

‘The Duke laid the wreath on behalf of the Talbot family, and said he was honoured to be able to do so, as he has worked closely with park rangers in these efforts and celebrates each and every one of them as heroes’ Kensington Palace said in a statement.

It added: ‘Often away from the public eye, many people are prepared to put themselves in harm’s way, in a bid to protect wildlife from poachers’.

The rangers fired shots and lit bangers to scare off the elephants but it was too late to save the soldier, who died shortly afterwards. 

The Duke of Sussex was pictured paying tribute to Guardsman Matthew Talbot, 22, of the Coldstream Guards, in a ceremony on day eight of the royal tour of Africa.

Harry stood shoulder to shoulder with the Coldstream Guards to mark the bravery of the soldier who died protecting elephants

Harry stood shoulder to shoulder with the Coldstream Guards to mark the bravery of the soldier who died protecting elephants

The Duke of Sussex bows his head as pays tribute at the memorial site for Guardsman Mathew Talbot today

The Duke of Sussex bows his head as pays tribute at the memorial site for Guardsman Mathew Talbot today

Harry stands alongside troops from the 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles, the latest contingent of British troops to take part in anti-poaching operations in Malawi, near the memorial

Harry stands alongside troops from the 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles, the latest contingent of British troops to take part in anti-poaching operations in Malawi, near the memorial

Hero Guardsman Talbot, died in Malawi's Liwonde National Park on May 5, and was part of the British Army's counter-poaching team, on his first operational deployment

Guardsman Talbot, died in Malawi's Liwonde National Park on May 5

Hero Guardsman Talbot, died in Malawi’s Liwonde National Park on May 5, and was part of the British Army’s counter-poaching team, on his first operational deployment

Harry has written to his family on two occasions and took a plaque they commissioned for the memorial with him when he travelled to Africa.

The duke’s handwritten message attached to the wreath read: ‘In grateful memory of Guardsman Talbot who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country and conservation. Rest in Peace.’

Troops from the 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles, the latest contingent of British troops to take part in anti-poaching operations in Malawi, were formed up near the memorial as a mark of respect.

Brigadier Tom Bateman, in charge of all counter-poaching deployment, gave a brief eulogy to the guardsman he knew, and before laying a wreath said: ‘Mathew Talbot was a young soldier in the early stages of his career as a Coldstream guardsman.

The Duke of Sussex meets British soldiers at the memorial site for Guardsman Mathew Talbot of the Coldstream Guards at the Liwonde National Park in Malawi, on day eight of the royal tour of Africa

The Duke of Sussex meets British soldiers at the memorial site for Guardsman Mathew Talbot of the Coldstream Guards at the Liwonde National Park in Malawi, on day eight of the royal tour of Africa

The Duke of Sussex arrives at the memorial site for Guardsman Mathew Talbot of the Coldstream Guards at the Liwonde National Park in Malawi, on day eight of the royal tour of Africa

The Duke of Sussex arrives at the memorial site for Guardsman Mathew Talbot of the Coldstream Guards at the Liwonde National Park in Malawi, on day eight of the royal tour of Africa

The Duke of Sussex, with Brigadier Tom Bateman (left), arrives at the memorial site for Guardsman Mathew Talbot at the Liwonde National Park in Malawi today

The Duke of Sussex, with Brigadier Tom Bateman (left), arrives at the memorial site for Guardsman Mathew Talbot at the Liwonde National Park in Malawi today

‘Fired with enthusiasm for conservation and specifically counter-poaching, his professionalism, personal courage, was a hallmark of who he was.

‘He wanted nothing more than to deploy with his battalion, who are scheduled to go on operations in Iraq next year.

‘His selflessness in the face of adversity and his unique humour are typical of the characteristics of a British Army soldier – and we’re all immensely proud of him.

‘It’s a sad day when we must gather to commemorate such a young brave life.’     

Prince Harry first visited Liwonde in 2016 and took part in an operation moving elephants 200 miles to another reserve.

He also observed anti-poaching projects there, spending almost three weeks working on the initiative. He described being around elephants as a unique and wonderful experience.

Prince Harry helps a local schoolboy to plant a tree at the Chobe National Park, on day four of the royal tour of Africa last Thursday

Prince Harry helps a local schoolboy to plant a tree at the Chobe National Park, on day four of the royal tour of Africa last Thursday

Earlier today it was announced that the prince Harry will guest edit the Instagram account for National Geographic today to raise awareness of the role trees play in the earth’s eco-system.

The duke will manage the magazine’s social media platform to launch a campaign called ‘Looking Up’, and will invite users to share their own pictures of trees from around the world.

The prince will work with National Geographic photographers to highlight indigenous trees and how crucial they are to life on earth.

The Duke of Sussex makes a speech at a reception at the British High Commissioner's Residence in Lilongwe, Malawi last night. He is currently on the eighth day of his official tour

The Duke of Sussex makes a speech at a reception at the British High Commissioner’s Residence in Lilongwe, Malawi last night. He is currently on the eighth day of his official tour

He will also share an image taken in Liwonde National Park, Malawi, where he is unveiling two initiatives to help preserve trees in the area. 

Buckingham Palace said that Harry’s passion for trees and forests is ‘inspired by the work he does on behalf of his grandmother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.’ 

The ‘Queens Commonwealth Canopy’ was launched in 2015, when Commonwealth countries were invited to submit forests and national parks or plant trees to preserve in The Queen’s name. 

Harry is currently on the eighth day of his ten day official tour in Africa.

Harry and Meghan have their own Instagram account, where they share charity posts and upload recent pictures of their son Archie. 

Today the Duke of Sussex said conservation is ‘fundamental to our survival’ and should not be dismissed as ‘hippy’.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph on Monday, Harry said that to make progress humans needed to overcome ‘greed, apathy and selfishness’ and that it was essential to learn from past mistakes to protect the world’s most valuable assets.

The Duke also warned of ‘vast ecosystems’ set ablaze in Africa, communities destroyed for short-term gain, and said that a ‘natural order’ between humans and wildlife must be restored.

He added: ‘This may well sound hippy to some.

‘But we cannot afford to have a ‘them or us’ mentality. Humans and animals and their habitats fundamentally need to co-exist or within the next 10 years our problems across the globe will become even more unmanageable.

‘Nature teaches us the importance of a circular system, one where nothing goes to waste and everything has a role to play.

‘If we interfere with it, rather than work with it, the system will break down.

‘Conservation used to be a specialist area, driven by science.

‘But now it is fundamental to our survival and we must overcome greed, apathy and selfishness if we are to make real progress.’

The column comes ahead of his visit to Malawi’s Liwonde National Park on the eighth day of a tour of southern Africa to highlight conservation and anti-poaching work.

Prince Harry yesterday arrived at the Nalikule College of Education to learn about the CAMA network and how it is supporting young women in Malawi

Prince Harry yesterday arrived at the Nalikule College of Education to learn about the CAMA network and how it is supporting young women in Malawi

The duke, who is on a 10-day tour of Africa, yesterday said a major collaborative approach ‘across agencies, borders and continents’ is needed to end the poaching of Africa’s iconic animals such as rhinos and elephants.

At a reception at the official residence of Britain’s High Commissioner to Malawi Holly Tett, the duke said on Sunday: ‘It is only by working together across agencies, borders and continents that we can finally put an end to the illegal wildlife trade crime that continues to deprive local communities of some of their most valuable natural resources.’

He went on to say, at the event in the capital Lilongwe, that poaching ‘hampers development and undermines the rule of law’ and praised the nation’s ability to track down the poachers.

The duke said: ‘Guardsman Mathew Talbot was unfortunately killed a few months ago in the line of duty but the relationship between the British military and the Malawian rangers remains strong.’

Earlier on Sunday the Duchess of Sussex surprised a classroom of female charity workers with a Skype call during Prince Harry’s solo visit to Malawi.

Britain's Prince Harry sits with young female advocates during a visit to the Nalikule College of Education to learn about the CAMA network

Britain’s Prince Harry sits with young female advocates during a visit to the Nalikule College of Education to learn about the CAMA network

The Duke of Sussex poses with the CAMA choir during a visit to the Nalikule College of Education to learn about the CAMA network yesterday

The Duke of Sussex poses with the CAMA choir during a visit to the Nalikule College of Education to learn about the CAMA network yesterday

Appearing on a television screen in the library of the Nalikule College of Education in Lilongwe, Meghan Markle, 38, waved hello from Johannesburg as the group of young women burst into song for her.

Prince Harry introduced his wife before the surprise appearance, as she joked about their four-month-old son, who has joined them on their 10-day tour of Africa, saying: ‘Archie’s taking a nap.’

The Duke of Sussex was given a warm and energetic reception at the college on his visit to learn how girls have been kept in school by Campaign for Female Education.

  The Duchess, a passionate supporter of gender equality, has not travelled with Harry to the African country, but is in nearby South Africa with their baby son Archie.

It remained uncertain if Meghan would be able to make the video call due to possible technical issues – but she delighted the young female advocates with her appearance, having worked closely with the charity in London.

The Duchess of Sussex and baby Archie, pictured together at Cape Town International Airport on Saturday before their scheduled British Airways flight, have travelled to Johannesburg for the next part of the 10-day royal tour

The Duchess of Sussex and baby Archie, pictured together at Cape Town International Airport on Saturday before their scheduled British Airways flight, have travelled to Johannesburg for the next part of the 10-day royal tour

Before the duchess appeared, Harry told the women: ‘I know there’s somebody else you’d far rather hear from than me, hopefully if technology doesn’t fail us you may see somebody on the screen.’

Meghan was smiling and said: ‘I’m so happy to be with you, is there a delay?’ and Harry replied ‘no, it’s great keep going.’

The duchess went on to say: ‘We’re just so proud as president and vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust that we can support you in everything that you do because we cannot begin to express how valuable and vital that work is, we’re just incredibly proud to be part of it.

‘I wish I could be with you, we’re in South Africa right now, Archie’s taking a nap. I’m with you in spirit.’

On his arrival to the college, Prince Harry joked with pupils as they waved the Union Jack and Malawian flags. A video posted to the official Instagram page of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shows the choir singing and dancing as Harry watches on in delight. 

Despite being seen at the airport on Saturday, there are no official engagements planned for the Duchess in Johannesburg until Tuesday.    

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s royal tour schedule 

Day One – 23 September

The tour began in a township in Cape Town, South Africa where Prince Harry and Meghan joined children at a workshop that teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes.

The couple also toured District Six Museum to learn about the work done to reunite people affected by the apartheid.

Day Two – 24 September

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex travelled to Monwabisi Beach nearby to learn about Waves for Change’s therapy programme for those who have been affected by violence.

Prince Harry then joined the City of Cape Town Marine Unit to learn about the work done to combat illegal poaching.

In the afternoon, Meghan and Harry visited the oldest mosque in the country and finally attend a reception at the British High Commissioner’s Resident.

Day Three – 25 September

The Sussexes accompanied by baby Archie met the anti-Apartheid Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mrs Tutu at their legacy foundation.

From here, Their Royal Highnesses’ programme split – The Duke will travel to Botswana while The Duchess remains in South Africa. 

Meghan then remained in South Africa, visiting the Woodstock Exchange that encourages female entrepreneurs.

Day Four – 26 September

The Duke made a working visit to Botswana, first travelling to Chobe Forest Tree Reserve to join schoolchildren to plant trees and raise awareness of the fragility of these vital ecosystems.

Prince Harry then spent the evening of 26th September at a new HALO Trust demining camp. 

Meghan Markle took part in a Women in Public Service breakfast at the High Commission in Cape Town.

Day Five – 27 September

The Duke remotely detonated a mine in a field outside Dirico. He saw aspects of the legacy that his mother Princess Diana started in raising awareness for the threat of landmines.

He later met members of the local community and victims of landmines. His Royal Highness will give remarks about the importance of continuing de-mining. 

Day Six – 28 September

The Duke attended an Audience with Angolan President Lourenço at the Presidential Palace.

He then visited the Maternity Hospital Lucrécia Paim to see the work of a project spearheaded by First Lady Ana Dias Lourenço ‘Born Free to Shine’ which focuses on preventing HIV/AIDS transmission from mothers to babies. 

Meghan, meanwhile, visited a memorial to a young South African woman whose rape and murder inspired thousands of people to protest the country’s high rate of sexual violence.

Day Seven – 29 September

The Duke arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi in the morning. He later visited Nalikule College of Education and interacted with a network of young women who are supported to attend and complete secondary school with the help of UKAid bursaries through the Campaign for Female Education. 

The Duke then attended an Audience with the President Peter Mutharika, and in the evening attended a Reception hosted by the British High Commissioner. 

Day Eight – 30 September

Prince Harry will fly in to Liwonde National Park to pay tribute to guardsman Mathew Talbot of the Coldstream Guards, who lost his life in May 2019 while on an anti-poaching patrol.

His Royal Highness will witness an anti-poaching demonstration exercise conducted jointly by local rangers and UK military deployed on Operation CORDED.  

Day Nine – 1 October

On the last day of his solo leg of the tour, the Duke will visit the Mauwa Heath Centre before heading back to South Africa.

The Duchess of Sussex will attend a round-table discussion with the Association of Commonwealth Universities in Johannesburg. She will also meet academics and students to discuss the challenges faced by young women in accessing Higher Education.

Day Ten – 2 October

Have joined back up the previous evening, the Duke and Duchess will visit a township near Johannesburg to meet with inspiring local youth.

They will also meet with Grace Machel, the widow of the late President Nelson Mandela. To close the tour, the royals will attend an audience with President Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife Dr Tshepo Motsepe. They are expected to depart for London that evening.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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