Prince Harry backs £47m landmine clearance scheme in Angola for cause championed by Diana

The Duke of Sussex has given his backing to a £47 million landmine clearing initiative to help rid Angola of the deadly military munitions – a cause championed by his mother Diana, Princess of Wales.

Harry said Angola’s remaining wilderness was “an asset that should be protected, celebrated and benefited by its people” as the south-west African country’s environment minister Paula Coelho pledged £47 million to fund the work of landmine clearing organisation the Halo Trust.

Speaking at London’s Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, after Ms Coelho made her financial commitment, the Duke said: “This unique ecosystem is one of the great wildlife refuges of the world – enriching its biodiversity for all of humanity.

The Duke of Sussex makes a speech during a Chatham House Africa Programme event on mine clearing in Angola. Credit: AP

“My hope is that through this collaboration, minefields can be cleared, land can be protected, wildlife can be free to return to where they once roamed, and Angolans can reap the rewards by co-existing with the one constant that will draw people in from all over the world – the extraordinary setting that they call home.”

The funds will be used to clear 153 minefields in a huge conservation region of Angola, a savannah area that is home to vital waterways that flow into the Okavango Delta, in nearby Botswana, a Unesco World Heritage site.

The late Princess of Wales famously walked through a cleared minefield in Angola, just months before she died Credit: John Stillwell/PA

In 2013, Harry followed in the footsteps of his mother when he visited Angola with the Halo Trust to meet victims of the munitions and observe work to remove the ordinance.

Just months before she died in a car crash in 1997, Diana, wearing a protective visor and vest, walked through an Angolan minefield cleared by the Halo Trust.

On his mother's work in the country, he said: “In fact I was told just the other day of the positive transformation in Huambo since my mother walked that minefield all those years ago.

“What is less well known is the impact landmines can have on conservation and wildlife, and therefore the economy.”

Prince Harry hailed the important work to clear landmines in Angola. Credit: Fiona Willoughby/Halo Trust/PA

Speaking about his 2013 visit to Angola, Harry added: “In Cuando Cubango, in the far south-east of what is a vast, beautiful country, I saw a struggling community in a deserted landscape unable to make use of the land.”

He highlighted the potential to “turn this land into a sustainable source for its people”.

It is believed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will themselves visit Angola as part of a tour to Africa later this year.

The visit will inevitably be a huge security risk for Harry and Meghan but palace officials are determined that it will go ahead, ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship said.