In 1997, the world was touched when Princess Diana visited Huambo, Angola, where she walked through a partially-cleared minefield and visited an orthopedic hospital treating victims of landmines. Prince Harry returned to that hospital on Sept. 27 and renamed it in honour of his mother and also reconnected with patients she met while there.
The Princess Diana Orthopaedic Centre’s goal is to become the country’s best centre for orthopedic care, and was recently renovated. Harry, now 35, also spoke with Justina Cesar, who met his mother in 1997 when she was 15. Justina lost one of her legs to a mine when she was just three years old.
“This visit is obviously deeply personal and meaningful to me,” Harry said in a speech during the renaming ceremony. “Since my mother’s visit to Huambo so many years ago, this city has undergone such a visible transformation.
“I am humbled and honoured that my mother’s work and commitment to de-mining continues to inspire, and that her legacy is being recognized and celebrated today with the naming of the centre in her honour.”
“It has been an honour to retrace my mother’s steps today. I lost her 22 years ago, but the memory of her is with me daily, and her legacy lives on – which is why I am so happy to name the centre The Princess Diana Orthopaedic Centre.”
Earlier in the day, Harry visited the exact site where Diana famously walked through a minefield during her visit. What was once a field that had been full of the instruments of war is now a bustling street, full of houses, shops and schools. Touchingly, it has been named Princess Diana Street after his mother. Harry also visited a tree, the last remnant of that mine-filled field, which also carries his Diana’s name.
“It has been quite emotional retracing my mother’s steps 22 years on and to see the transformation that has taken place from an unsafe and desolate area into a vibrant community with local businesses and colleges,” he said there, before adding he believed she would still be fighting for an end to landmines had she not been in the 1997 car crash that claimed her life.
“I wonder if she were still alive today if that would be the case. I’m pretty sure she would have seen it through.”
Also in the morning, Harry had visited a partially-cleared minefield outside Dirico, where he remotely detonated a mine.
The Duke donned body armour and a protective visor for the engagement, which was to highlight the ongoing threat of the munitions in the country.
“Landmines are an unhealed scar of war. By clearing the landmines, we can help this community find peace, and with peace comes opportunity,” he said in a speech there.
While in Angola, Harry also met with representatives from the three de-mining organisations working under the UKAID-funded Global Mine Action Programme funding: The HALO Trust, Mines Advisory Group, and Norwegian People’s Aid.
This was not the first time the duke has visited Angola. He previously travelled there in 2013 to se a HALO Trust project, and also travelled to Mozambique in 2010 to see a minefield the organization was clearing.