The prince has long thought of Africa as his "second home," in part because of the privacy it affords him
Credit: Alpha/Landov

It might seem unusual for British royalty to make a marriage proposal in Africa. But Prince William‘s decision to pop the question to Kate Middleton in Kenya reveals the depths of his love for a continent to which he feels a treasured connection both personal and philanthropic.

Part of the appeal is simple privacy. “This place will hold a special place in my heart for the rest of my life,” William said while visiting Botswana recently, in footage filmed for a Sky1 documentary. “Africa’s the perfect place to come. The locals haven’t a clue who I am, and I love that.”

Asked if visiting Africa is partly a way to escape the pressures of his public life, he replied, “It is, definitely. When I step off the plane I’m like, ‘Yes, I’m back.’ I know I’m here to work, but you can’t help feeling like that. Africa is my second home.”

William proposed to Middleton while on a 10-day safari in October – a pleasantly private sojourn for the couple, both 28, who will feel the eyes of the world upon them next year when they tie the knot in what will surely be one of the great weddings of the modern age.

But William’s trips to Africa usually involve at least as much charity work as personal R&R. He is deeply involved in the Tusk Trust, a wildlife conservation. And he and his brother, Prince Harry, also support schools in Uganda, among other projects.

With reporting by SIMON PERRY