Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Prince Harry retraces Princess Diana's steps as he walks through Angolan minefield

As part of his ongoing African tour, the royal also met with a landmine survivor who famously bonded with his late mother in 1997

In a heart-wrenching moment, Prince Harry has followed in the footsteps of his late mother, Diana, by walking through the same minefield she famously visited 22 years ago.

The Duke of Sussex made a poignant trip to the site in Huambo yesterday, now a suburban street, where the Princess of Wales captured global attention when she stepped through the live minefield in January 1997.

The royal, who was widely praised for her work in highlighting a then-largely underreported landmine crisis, died that August.

Prince Harry returned to the spot to see the work of the Halo Trust, a charity that is dedicated to helping countries recover after conflict, with a particular focus on clearing landmines.

He also sat beneath the Diana Tree, which is all that remains of the field where his mother was pictured.

Now, two decades after Princess Diana's visit, Huambo "has transformed from desolate and uninhabitable to lively and vibrant, with colleges, schools and small businesses", according to Prince Harry's official Instagram account.

"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," a post on the Sussex Royal page detailed.

Princess Diana’s visit was credited with leading towards the Convention against Anti-Personal Landmines, also known as the Ottawa Treaty, which aims to clear Angola of known mines by 2025.

“It’s incredibly emotional to follow in the footsteps of my mother ... If 20 years ago she hadn’t done what she did, this would still be a minefield. To see this as a thriving community is amazing," the royal said in a video shared during his trip.

"Without question if she hadn't campaigned the way that she did, this arguably could still be a minefield. I'm incredibly proud of what she's been able to do, and meet these kids here who were born on this street."

The Duke of Sussex also visited a partially cleared minefield in Dirico, close to Huambo, where he set off a controlled explosion.

The duke is mid-way through his 10-day royal tour of southern Africa, where he has visited Botswana, Angola and South Africa. The royal was joined in Cape Town by his wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and four-month-old son, Archie. Prince Harry, who travelled to Botswana and Angola alone, will reunite with his family in Johannesburg towards the end of the visit.

During his time in Angola, the royal also met landmine survivor Sandra Thijika, who famously encountered Princess Diana in 1997.

epa07875702 Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex meets landmine victim Sandra Tigica, who Princess Diana met on her visit to Angola 1997, at a reception at the British Ambassadors Residence in Luanda, Angola, 27 September 2019. Prince Harry visited The Halo Trust landmine clearance charity. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on a 10-day tour of southern Africa. EPA/DOMINIC LIPINSKI / POOL
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, meets Sandra Thijika. EPA

The now 38-year-old lost a leg in an explosion in munitions laid during Angola's civil war, which ended in 2002. She was pictured sitting on Princess Diana's knee during the late royal's visit to the African nation, with the Princess of Wales earlier moved to tears as she watched Thijika being fitted for a prosthetic limb.

"After they measured my knee we went outside and we sat by a fig tree and she was speaking to me and I felt very happy, I felt very complete to have the attention of a princess," Thijika recalled. "It was an honour to be sitting next to a princess."

FILE PHOTO: Diana, Princess of Wales, spends time with 11-year-old Sandra Tigica, the youngest patient at the Neves Bendinha orthopaedic centre outside Luanda, Angola January 14, 1997. REUTERS/Juda Ngwenya/File Photo
Diana, Princess of Wales, spends time with 11-year-old Sandra Thijika, in 1997. Reuters

Thijika, who was a guest of honour at a reception hosted by Britain’s Ambassador to Angola, also told Prince Harry she has named one of her five children after Diana.

"This is a long story and this is a beautiful story because I've come out of the province to meet Diana's son, so this is putting the focus on all of us who have physical disabilities," she later added.

"So it's good for Angola that the world can see we need help that we need help and much can be done for us."

While Prince Harry was in Angola, the Duchess of Sussex made a journey to the site where 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana was killed last month, and left a ribbon in her honour.

The murder of the Cape Town student has resulted in protests in South Africa against gender-based violence and femicide.

"The duchess spoke to the mother of Uyinene this week to relay their condolences," the Sussex Royal Instagram account revealed. "The duchess has taken private visits and meetings over the last two days to deepen her understanding of the current situation and continue to advocate for the rights of women and girls."

During their royal tour, Prince Harry and Meghan have met former archbishop and Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu, as well as a mosque in Cape Town's Bo-Kaap district.

Updated: September 28, 2019 12:47 PM

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