Prince Harry Says His Love for Africa Helped After Death of Mom Princess Diana: 'I Feel Connected'

Prince Harry said the continent gave him "a sense of escapism . . . a real sense of purpose."

Prince Harry is grateful to be back in Africa — a place that helped the prince cope after the death of his mother Princess Diana in 1997.

As he arrived in Botswana on Thursday, he revealed that the continent helped him “get away from it all” during the difficult time.

“I came here in 1997, 1998 straight after my mom died, so it was a nice place to get away from it all,” he told reporters. “But now I feel deeply connected to this place and to Africa.”

He added that being in Botswana – where he sourced two of the stones for wife Meghan Markle’s three-stone engagement ring (the other stone came from Diana’s personal collection) – gave him “a sense of escapism . . . a real sense of purpose.”

Prince Harry

Harry and Meghan arrived in South Africa on Monday with their almost 5-month-old son. In a touching tribute to Princess Diana, Archie was seen wearing a white knit hat with a festive pom-pom that was very similar to the one Diana chose for a baby Harry to wear in January 1985 as they stepped off a plane in at Aberdeen Airport in Scotland. Harry was also around 4 months old at the time.

Harry also used the occasion on Thursday to underline his concerns about the environmental crisis affecting the world, calling it a “race against time.”

“This last week led by Greta [Thunberg], the world’s children are striking,” Harry added. “There is an emergency, it’s a race against time and one in which we are losing.“And everyone knows it. There is no excuse for not knowing that I think the most troubling part of it is – I don’t believe there is anybody in this world that can deny science, undeniable science and facts.

Duke of Sussex
Prince Harry. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
Prince Harry. Dominic Lipinski/PA Images

“Science and facts that have been around the last 30 nearly 40 years and it’s only getting stronger and stronger.

“Genuinely I don’t understand how anyone in this world, whoever we are, you, us, children, leaders, whoever it is, no one can deny science otherwise we live in a very, very troubling world.”

Earlier in the day, Harry took part in a tree planting ceremony, as he helped create a new forest habitat on the banks of Botswana’s Chobe River. One of the trees was a 30-foot Baobab tree that he and a group of men had to force upright before packing soil around the trunk.

The Duke of Sussex
Prince Harry. PA Wire/PA Images
The Duke of Sussex
Prince Harry. PA Wire/PA Images

He then joined some schoolchildren in planting mahogany trees and crouched down with one young boy to help him with the sapling – and they marked their success with a high-five.

Harry left wife Meghan back in Cape Town on Wednesday afternoon to begin a tour around three African countries. He was greeted by Dr. Mike Chase, Conservationist and Founder of Elephant Without Borders, which is helping to develop the site into a nature and cultural reserve.

After Botswana, he heads to Angola and Malwai before joining Meghan and Archie in Johannesburg to finish out the tour.

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