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Harry embarks on solo leg of royal African tour - on a deeply personal mission

Prince Harry is embarking on a solo part of the royal tour. Credit: PA

Prince Harry has landed in a remote corner of Africa which borders Botswana, Zambia, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

This is the second leg of the Africa tour by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex - and this leg is one Harry will do on his own.

He’s left Archie and Meghan in Cape Town and Harry will see them next in Johannesburg in six days’ time.

While he’s away he will:

  • support Sentebale, the charity he founded in Lesotho in 2006 to help children affected by HIV
  • he will retrace his mother’s footsteps in Angola where landmines are still a threat to people and wildlife
  • Harry will support those fighting the illegal wildlife trade in Malawi and he’ll honour a British soldier who was recently killed in an anti-poaching operation
Harry and Meghan, and son Archie, met Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Credit: PA

We are now in Kasane, a small town in north-east Botswana, where Sentebale runs a camp for the children living with HIV.

And its location - at the border point of four countries - means there is an alarming rate of infection here.

The area is a transit point for long-distance truck drivers making the time-consuming trek to and from countries across Southern Africa.

It is also close to game parks frequented by tourists.

And they suffer here from a high rate of unemployment.

It means that Kasane has a dangerous reputation: it’s an epicentre for prostitution and unprotected sex.

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Sentebale says many women in this part of Botswana are so desperate to make a living, they are “left with little or no options but to risk their lives and engage in unprotected, commercial or intergenerational sex”.

And that makes Kasane uniquely vulnerable to the spread of HIV.

In fact, Botswana has the third highest HIV prevalence in the world.

In this district alone, a staggering one out of every five people aged between 15 and 49 has HIV.

Many of the children who have HIV were infected in the womb by their mothers.

At one clinic, 700 patients are registered for anti-retro viral drugs.

Some of the youngsters Harry will meet want to share their diagnosis. Others do not.

Archie looked like he enjoyed himself meeting Archbishop Tutu. Credit: PA

The Duke will talk to those like university student Seggabo Seselamarumo who works with Sentebale to spread messages on protection and HIV treatment.

Seggabo has been living with HIV for the last 15 of his 22 years of life.

“I have lost relatives and friends to HIV,” he says but “growing up, I never let HIV limit me in any way!”

The message Sentebale wants the people of this region to hear is that “they can live healthy lives” if they “are tested, know their status and take their medication”.

The youth camp Harry will visit creates a safe and secure place for those with HIV and encourages young people to learn from others of their own age through a programme called Let Youth Lead.

Harry will talk live on a radio station with those who are living with HIV.

In Botswana, there is too much misconception and too little understanding of the condition, particularly amongst girls and young women.

But as the son of Princess Diana - and as the founder of Sentebale – Harry will do what he can today to spread that message.