For all the careful choreography of yesterday for the cameras, this was not a photo opportunity. It was a tribute. The Duke of Sussex had come to Angola to pay homage to one of the most enduring achievements of his deceased mother: to overthrow the balance in favor of a worldwide ban on landmines.
& # 39; It was an honor to find my mother's steps today & # 39 ;, he said, moving through the city where she first drew worldwide attention to this issue in 1997. & # 39; I lost her 22 years ago, but the memory of her is with me every day and her legacy lives on. & # 39;
These days we often forget how controversial it was when Diana, Princess of Wales entered the landmine debate.
Diana, Princess of Wales, wears a bombproof visor and carefully walks through the & # 39; perigo minas & # 39; signs during her visit to a minefield in Huambo, Angola
Newly embraced and embracing new challenges as a non-royal princess, she was shocked by the damage these weapons inflict on civilians, especially children, long after a war was over. However, there were critics within the British military establishment who were appalled at her intervention and argued that Britain could hardly throw its landmines overboard as long as our potential enemies had their own.
A defense minister called Diana "a loose cannon". The British ambassador to Angola even made an official complaint to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and urged ministers to keep the princess away (he was overrun). Nonetheless, the subsequent images of Diana in anti-aircraft jacket and visor, who carefully walked through Huambo's "perigo minas" signs before meeting mutilated children, were a game changer. The international momentum changed rapidly and irreversibly.
Months later, Diana left on an identical mission to the minefields of Bosnia. By the end of the year, 122 countries had signed a pledge to ban these war instruments. And on December 10, it was announced in Oslo that the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize would go to the international campaign to ban landmines. Diana would have been the first to admit that she was just one of the countless supporters of this crusade, albeit by far the best known. But by that time she was dead, killed a few months earlier in a car accident in Paris.
The Duke of Sussex walks through a minefield in Dirico, Angola, on day five of the royal tour through Africa
Yesterday was clearly a matter of unfinished business for her proud younger son. As he wrote on Instagram, he had come & # 39; to recognize her tireless mission as an advocate for anyone who, in her opinion, needed her voice most, even if the issue was not universally popular. & # 39; It certainly wasn't.
But when Harry walked down Huambo's Diana street yesterday and opened the new Princess Diana clinic, who would argue with her now? There have also been many echoes from Harry & # 39; s father during this tour. Thursday's forestry agreements with the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy in Botswana focused firmly on the environment and the threat of climate change, issues that the Prince of Wales has been drumming on his sons since childhood. "I don't think there is anyone in this world who can deny undeniable science and facts that have existed in the last 30, perhaps 40 years," said an annoyed Harry, who looked very much like his father.
The feeling of deja-vu during this tour extends far beyond land mines and tree plantations. The duchess's visit to a mosque in Cape Town, where Meghan wore a white silk headscarf, immediately evoked memories of Diana's journeys through Egypt, Pakistan, and elsewhere.
Princess Diana with Sandra Tigica, 13, a landmine victim she met in the orthopedic workshop in Angola, 1997
The presence of baby Archie on this tour also reminds when Harry would accompany his parents on official tours. The performance of Archie on this week's tea party, given by the former archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, will have delighted the queen. Here was her great-grandson who met a heroic fellow churchman who she has known and admired for years (making him ultimately an honorary companion).
South Africa was the very first foreign destination for the queen herself. And her arrival in Cape Town with her parents in 1947 marked the start of a lifelong love for Africa.
This week and next Harry and Meghan visit various projects with her name.
For Harry there will be powerful memories of this journey. As he remembered this week, he came to South Africa as a schoolboy just a few weeks after walking behind his mother's coffin in the late summer of 1997.
The Duke of Sussex meets the landmine victim, Sandra Tigica, who met Princess Diana during her visit to Angola in 1997
The Prince of Wales, who is committed to a tour with three countries through the region in the fall, took Harry with him. There were memorable meetings with Nelson Mandela and a lively meeting with the Spice Girls in Johannesburg. But there were also private vacations of father and son in the bush, which Harry greatly appreciated.
"I came here in" 97 – right after my mother died, "Harry said this week. "It was a nice place to get away from it all. But now I feel deeply connected to this place. "This morning he meets the President of Angola before he leaves for Malawi. Meghan, who stays in Cape Town with Archie, is preparing for a series of engagements in Johannesburg.
Regardless of news at home, this tour is certainly a reminder of the international appeal of British royalty at a time when the UK has little else in the diplomatic toolbox.
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