The Duke of Sussex today retraced the footsteps of his late mother as he donned body armour and a protective visor to walk through a partially cleared minefield.
Harry was highlighting the ongoing threat of the munitions in Angola, the same nation Diana, Princess of Wales visited in 1997 to urge the world to ban the weapons.
Some 22 years after his mother Princess Diana walked through the minefield and called for a global ban on mines, Harry was then asked to set off an anti-personnel mine which had been discovered earlier with a controlled explosion to safely destroy the decades-old weapon.
Near the south-eastern town of Dirico, the duke walked into an area that was once an artillery base for anti-government forces who had mined the position in 2000 before retreating.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex posted a poignant message on their Instagram account today, honouring the tireless work of Diana which, ‘helped change the course of history’.
They added: ‘The Duke is humbled to be visiting a place and a community that was so special to his mother, and to recognise 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 Duke of Sussex walks through a minefield in Dirico, Angola, during a visit to see the work of landmine clearance charity the Halo Trust
Diana, Princess of Wales, visited a minefield in Angola. In 1997 Diana Princess of Wales visited Huambo to bring global attention to the crisis of landmines and the people whose lives were being destroyed
Harry was highlighting the ongoing threat of the munitions in Angola, the same nation Diana visited in 1997 to urge the world to ban the weapons
Harry was then asked to set off an anti-personnel mine which had been discovered earlier with a controlled explosion to safely destroy the decades-old weapon
During his visit today, The Duke will walk along the street which was once the minefield where his mother was famously pictured. The Duke and Duchess posted this photograph to their Instagram today
The Princess of Wales was famously pictured walking through the minefield in Angola during a trip to Africa in 1997
The Duke of Sussex made a speech while visiting the landmine site, praising the clearing efforts by the Halo Trust as helping the community to ‘find peace’.
‘Landmines are an unhealed scar of war. By clearing the landmines we can help this community find peace, and with peace comes opportunity,’ Harry said.
‘Additionally, we can protect the diverse and unique wildlife that relies on the beautiful Kuito river that I slept beside last night.
‘That river and those wildlife are your natural assets and, if looked after, will bring you unlimited opportunities in the conservation-led economy.’
‘It is fitting that this project starts in Dirico, at the convergence of the two rivers that flow from Angola’s islands down to the Okavango Delta,’ the duke continued.
‘These two rivers provide water and life to over a million people downstream and an essential and incredibly delicate habitat for an abundance of wildlife.
‘Just as these rivers extend for miles, so must this project extend far beyond Dirico. Outside the national parks, large parts of this crucial watershed also need to be cleared of land mines.
‘Clearing the full watershed will take an international effort. Everyone who recognises the priceless importance of safeguarding Africa’s most intact natural landscape should commit fully to this mission.’
The dusty scrubland was marked with red warning signs showing the skull and crossbones, with the Portuguese words ‘Perigo Minas!’ and the English translation below – danger mines.
The duke walked through an area of the site looking at the marked off areas which potentially could contain landmines.
Jose Antonio, a regional manager for the landmine clearance charity the Halo Trust, took Harry onto the site where his staff have been working since August to make it safe, and he hopes they can complete their painstaking clearance by the end of October.
Like all those visiting the Trust’s site, Harry had been given a safety briefing and told not stray of the cleared lanes, touch anything or run.
He watched as a mine clearance worker used a metal detector to search for the mostly anti-personnel mines buried in ground.
If one is discovered staff are trained to move back and carefully remove the soil as they move forward until they reach the munition.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their son Archie on a visit to Archbishop Desmond Tutu earlier this week
Later Harry will arrive at Luengue-Luiana National Park where he will present a plaque to Angolan Minister of Environment Paula Coelho to mark the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.
Harry will then travel to Huambo. In 1997 the late Princess Diana visited a de-mining site and met mine victims as part of her campaign to create a global mine ban – which came to fruition in the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (Ottawa Treaty) that same year.
The prince will also retrace his mother’s steps at Avenida 28 de Maio (‘Princess Diana Street’) walking the same path where she was photographed in 1997. Thanks to Diana this area is now a bustling town.
Harry will also visit the Orthopaedic Centre, also visited by his mother in 1997. Recently renovated, it aims to become Angola’s national centre of excellence in orthopaedic care. He will rename it the Princess Diana Orthopaedic Centre.
Angola has some of the world’s most important remaining wilderness. However, the presence of landmines & remnants of the civil war render large areas of the country unsafe for both animals and the local people who depend on deriving a sustainable livelihood from their environment