On his first visit, Africa provided an escape and space for the young Prince to clear his mind. He took the trip with his brother Prince William, just after the shocking and devastating death of their mother, Princess Diana.
Escaping the media circus and public attention at such a difficult time was the idea of their father, Prince Charles.
“I first came in 1997, straight after my mum died,” the Prince revealed in an interview for Town & Country’s February issue. “My dad told my brother and me to pack our bags—we were going to Africa to get away from it all.”
After the much-needed escape, a then 13-year-old Prince Harry had completely fallen in love with Africa. As such, Harry feels at home in Africa and finds solace in the beautiful continent.
As well as forming a close bond and admiring the people he met, he was also inspired by the conservation efforts taking place in the country.
Harry has visited Africa on numerous occasions since his first trip as a young boy. Despite his high-profile in the UK, the fifth in line to the British throne finds he can lead more of a normal life when he goes abroad to invest his time in projects he is passionate about.
“This (Africa) is where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world” Harry revealed. “I wish I could spend more time in Africa. I have this intense sense of complete relaxation and normality here. To not get recognised, to lose myself in the bush with what I would call the most down-to-earth people on the planet, people [dedicated to conservation] with no ulterior motives, no agendas, who would sacrifice everything for the betterment of nature”
Prince Harry always travels with a purpose. Whether it be to oversee the progress and work of his charity, Sentebale in Lesotho, or get stuck in to conversation work and raising awareness of endangered species in Malawi.
“I completely fell in love with African Parks because they get things done. They make tough decisions and they stick to principles,” he said. “I don’t go on safari, I come so I can surround myself with people [working in conservation] and support them.”
The 32-year-old admitted that he has learnt, “so much” from his time in Africa, and spends a proportion of his time back in the UK campaigning and speaking out on behalf of the causes he is passionate about.
“I do worry. I think everyone should worry,” he said. “We need to look after them, because otherwise our children will not have a chance to see what we have seen. This is God’s test: If we can’t save some animals in a wilderness area, what else can’t we do?”
“I go home [to the UK] and bang the drum. So that we can all try to make a difference.”
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