Prince Harry follows in Princess Diana’s footsteps as walks through a minefield in Angola

By Zach Harper

In an incredibly moving sight, Prince Harry took to a partially cleared minefield while visiting Angola on Sept. 27, just like his mother, Princess Diana, all those years ago.

The Duke of Sussex was in the town of Dirico to see the world being done by anti-landmine organization The HALO Trust. While there, he put on protective body armour and a visor, and walked through the path HALO had cleared. It was a powerful moment that recalls Diana’s 1997 visit to Huambo, Angola, where she did the same thing.

Harry also detonated a mine that had just been discovered. The explosion was created with a remote-controlled device.

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In Angola today The Duke of Sussex has sought to continue his mother’s legacy and highlight the ongoing threat of landmines, 22 years after The Princess of Wales did the same. The Duke joined @thehalotrust on an ex-artillery base near Dirico and as they worked to clear the area for the local community. The Duke also took time today to welcome the Luengue-Luiana National Park as the newest member of the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy – Her Majesty’s (@theroyalfamily) campaign to protect forests and plant millions of trees across the globe. These forests in Angola will help protect an ancient elephant migration route, and hopefully encourage the animals back to the region. Angola, once home to over 200,000 elephants before the country's civil war, now has the potential to provide elephants with the largest home range remaining in Africa. Safe passages, or ‘elephant corridors’ will have to be created so they can return naturally, without danger to the communities or the lands themselves. The Duke has been involved in @queenscanopy projects in the UK, the Caribbean, New Zealand, Australia, Botswana, and Tonga, and firmly believes that protecting and planting trees is vital to look after the earth’s eco-system. #RoyalVisitAngola Video © SussexRoyal

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The 35-year-old also made a speech in which he spoke about the importance of de-mining and again called for an end to the use of anti-personnel landmines worldwide. He has done so already this year, having made similar comments at think-tank Chatham House’s conference on Angolan landmine clearance in London this past June.

Diana in a minefield in Huambo, Angola in 1997 and Harry in a minefield in Dirico in 2019. Photos: © Tim Graham Picture Library via Getty Images and Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage

On Sept. 27, Harry praised Angola’s pledge to be landmine-free by 2025.

“This historic commitment is a key step forward for the movement to rid the world of landmines and lead the foundation for a safe and just future for next generations,” 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.

“Additionally, we can protect the diverse and unique world life that relies on the beautiful Cuanza River, and that river and those world life, are your natural asset. If looked after, they will bring you unlimited opportunities within the conservation of your economy.”

Harry went on to connect conservation and the environment with the issue of landmines, saying clearing them was important for the Earth.

Workers did a safety check of the minefield before Harry walked through it. Photo: © Dominic Lipinski - Pool/Getty Images

“It is fitting that this project starts in Dirico, at the convergence of the two rivers that flow from Angola’s highlands, down to the delta. These two rivers provide water and life to over a million people downstream and an essential and incredibly delicate habitat for an abundance of world life.

“Just as these rivers extend for a mile, so much this project extends, far beyond Dirico. Outside the national parks, large parts of this crucial watershed need to be cleared of landmines. Clearing the full watershed will take an international effort. Everyone who recognizes the priceless importance of safeguarding Africa’s most intact natural landscape should commit fully to this mission.”

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The area where Harry walked was once an artillery base for anti-government forces in Angola’s decades-long civil war, an intermittent conflict that ran from 1975 to 2002. After retreating in 2000, the rebel army mined the area. The site is not fully clear, but José Antonio, HALO’s regional manager, said the organization is hoping it is landmine-free by the end of October.

A body language expert said Harry appeared to be struggling with “grief” and “anguish” as he walked through the minefield and was likely trying to suppress his emotions.

“It would be easy to underestimate the emotional challenge for Harry today as he walked in the iconic footsteps of his mother Diana,” Judi James told Fabulous Digital, according to The Sun. “He was suddenly alone and thrown back into the role of bereaved young son, and much of the anguish he must have been feeling was subtly etched on his facial expressions and body language as he walked among the mines and made his speech.

”His narrowed, tired, reflective-looking eyes made it look as though he could have been struggling with his grief.”

Judi added there were several times during his speech that this was noticeable.

“He also sucked his lips in at one point and these could all be signals of an attempt to quietly self-motivate while trying to suppress his emotions,” she said.

Diana is still praised by Angolans and international aid and humanitarian organizations for her work in Angola, which helped humanize the issue, raise international awareness and ultimately help change the world. Photo: © Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Royal watchers will vividly remember Diana’s trip to Huambo in January 1997. It is credited with helping an international treaty against landmines to pass that December, and also later led to her visiting Bosnia-Herzegovina, where she met with victims of landmines, as she had in Angola.

MORE: How Princess Diana’s 1997 trip to Angola helped change the world

Harry also visited the exact spot of Diana’s famous 1997 landmine walk later on Sept. 27. The area is now a bustling street full of shops, homes and schools, partly thanks to the work she did to raise international awareness on the issue of landmines.

Diana would be so proud!

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