Prince Charles to visit Rwanda, a place Duchess Meghan loves, in 2020

By Zach Harper

The Prince of Wales has announced he'll visit Rwanda next year, where Duchess Meghan travelled for her humanitarian work in 2016. Charles has also sent Paul Kagame, the country’s president, his condolences with a letter to mark the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. “My wife and I particularly wanted you to know how much the people of Rwanda are in our thoughts and prayers at this special time of remembrance and reflection,” Charles wrote.

“I can only say how deeply I admire the strength and resilience of the Rwandan people over these past twenty-five years, together with your commitment to reconciliation and your determination that the atrocities of the past must not define the future to which you aspire,” Charles continued. “In this regard, if I may say so, Rwanda, as an indispensable member of our Commonwealth family, offers an aspiring and deeply humbling example to us all.”

This week is the beginning of an annual national commemoration period in Rwanda, in which the country recognizes past violence against its minority Tutsi and Twa populations. An estimated 500,000 to 1 million people – most of whom were Tutsi – were killed in the genocide, which took place over a 100-day period from April to July 1994.

Charles will be in Kigali, the country’s capital, which will host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2020. Although Rwanda was not initially a member of the Commonwealth, it joined the global body in 2009.

This will give Charles a chance to bond over something else with daughter-in-law Meghan, and ask her what he needs to know about travelling to the country. Meghan visited Rwanda in 2016 as a Global Ambassador for World Vision Canada. While there, she spent time with children at a school that had been given clean water through a pipeline set up by the charity, and also painted watercolour pictures with them.

“I think there’s a misconception that access to clean water is just about drinking water; which, of course, it is,” Meghan said of her visit in 2017. “But it’s so much more than that. Access to clean water in a community keeps young girls in school, because they aren’t walking hours each day to source water for their families.”

“Meghan is a true humanitarian,” Lara Dewar, chief marketing and development officer for World Vision, said in a statement about the Rwanda visit in 2017. “I personally witnessed Meghan’s passion to improve the lives of children, and know her heart to advocate for the rights of girls – to hear and amplify their important voices.”

Meghan’s time in Rwanda clearly had a big impact on her. In 2018, she and Prince Harrymet Priscilla Ruzibuka,who set up a children’s clothing project that employs underprivileged women in Rwanda. Priscilla later said the couple told her how much they love her home country, and said they told her they look forward to visiting it together one day.

Charles is also known for his humanitarian work. He is president of 17 different charities that help disadvantaged children and youth, and also work to improve education and the environment.

And of course, no one can forget the humanitarian work of Princess Diana, Harry's late mother. The Princess of Wales was a patron of The HALO Trust, which removes debris such as landmines that are left behind after wars and armed conflicts. Diana famously visited Angola in 1997, and toured a minefield while wearing a helmet and flak jacket. In 2010, Harry followed in his mother's footsteps, visiting former landmine fields cleared by HALO in Mozambique.

Diana in a landmine field being cleared in Huambo, Angola in January 1997. Photo: © Tim Graham/Getty Images

Diana also visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was itself the site of a genocide in 1995, with the Landmine Survivors Network in 1997. The International Review of the Red Cross described Diana’s passion for the cause as highly influential in the signing of the Ottawa Treaty, which bans the use of landmines worldwide.

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