Simon Perry
April 05, 2017 11:56 AM

 

Prince Harry was praised for the impact he made with his stirring speech on Tuesday about the fight against landmines.

His late mother Princess Diana put the issue on the map for many people across the world when she walked in a minefield in Angola and, later, visited another area plagued by the weapons in Bosnia.

Ken Rutherford, who traveled to Bosnia with Princess Diana in August 1997 alongside his friend Jerry White for their Landmine Survivors Network, met with Harry at the reception.

“Right now the world’s lacking leadership on landmines,” Rutherford tells PEOPLE. “Prince Harry’s stepping into the void and following his mother’s footsteps at the right time. She injected energy and attention and political limelight. Prince Harry did the same.”

White adds, “He’s a natural and is charismatic and compassionate like his mother. He is an injection into the landmine movement that is so important. And it comes at a very important time even for British leadership in the world to show and redouble efforts for a mine-free world.”

John Phillips/Getty

Harry inspired guests at the reception at Kensington Palace held by the Halo Trust and the Mines Advisory Group as the British government pledged $125 million towards the ongoing campaign.

Speaking of his mother’s groundbreaking work in a passionate speech he said: “At the time, the attention my mother brought to this issue wasn’t universally popular; some believed she had stepped over the line into the arena of political campaigning — but for her this wasn’t about politics; it was about people.”

He added, “She met with those who had suffered life changing injuries as a result of anti-personnel mines, she listened to their stories, and helped share them with the world.”

The Ottawa anti-landmine treaty was signed just a few months after she died – which some see as one of her lasting legacies of her death.

Tim Graham/Getty

Rutherford praised the other governments and NGOs in the room and added of the prince, “He’s legitimately fearful that the world is stretching this out. By a little bump and commitment from around the world we’ll get the job done and save 30-50,000 lives.

“He’s following in his mothers footsteps and leaving a positive legacy.

One of Princess Diana’s great legacies is the Landmine Ban Treaty and the role for victims within that treaty.

White adds, “I’m so proud and energized and we have survivors from around the world here tonight. We couldn’t be happier.”

Two of those were Malic and Žarko, who, as young men, had met Diana during her visit to Bosnia in the weeks before her tragic death in August 1997.

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Rutherford added that Harry asked “so many questions” of the men. “He was saying, ‘If my mother was still alive would the world be different? If my mother never came to Bosnia, how would your situation be?’ She touched people, went into families’ rooms. She went into the worlds’ living rooms about landmines.”

He adds, “Most Americans knew about landmines through Princess Diana. She helped raise the volume.”

Žarko recalled the moment he met Diana. “I was so surprised when I saw her,” he said. “I could not believe my eyes — it was a princess, wearing blue jeans.

“I remember her words when she was leaving. She told us, ‘You are not going to be forgotten.’ What she said gave me a lot of strength whenever I have had hard times.”

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