Prince Harry walks through Angola mine field, echoing Diana

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A body armor-wearing Prince Harry on Friday followed in the footsteps of his late mother, Princess Diana, whose walk through an active mine field in Angola years ago helped to lead to a global ban on the deadly weapons.

The prince walked through a dusty mine field marked with skull-and-crossbones warning signs, and was visiting the spot where Diana was famously photographed on a similar walk during her own Africa visit in 1997. That field in Huambo is now a busy street. The southern African nation is now years past a grinding civil war and hopes to be land mine-free by 2025, a goal of scores of countries around the world.

"Land mines are an unhealed scar of war," Harry said in the town of Dirico. "By clearing the land mines we can help this community find peace, and with peace comes opportunity."

Diana's visit is still very much discussed today in Huambo after people were struck by her warmth and willingness to acknowledge their country's devastating 27-year conflict, the Angola country director for mine-clearing organization The HALO Trust said.

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VENICE, ITALY - MAY 5: (FILE PHOTO) (L-R) Diana the Princess of Wales holds her son Harry, whilst looking at Prince William held by his father Prince Charles on May 5, 1985 in Venice, Italy. Prince William will celebrate his 21st birthday on June 21, 2003. (Photo by Georges de Keerle/Getty Images)
Princes William and Harry with their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) in the garden of Highgrove House in Gloucestershire, 18th July 1986. William is wearing a Dallas Cowboys t-shirt.(Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
TETBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 18: Princess Diana At Highgrove With Prince William And Prince Harry Dressed In Miniature Parachute Regiment Uniforms And Playing On Their Slide In The Garden (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
TETBURY, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 18: Princess Diana With Her Sons Prince William And Prince Harry Playing With A Playhouse In The Garden Of Their Home Highgrove (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
The Prince and Princess of Wales on holiday with their children, Princes William and Harry, at the Spanish royal residence Marivent Palace, August 1987. (Photo by Terry Fincher/Getty Images)
The Princess of Wales arriving at Aberdeen airport with her sons William and Harry for a holiday at Balmoral Castle, August 1986. Princess Diana is wearing a polo motive sweater by Mondi. (Photo by Jayne Fincher/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 01: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales at home in Kensington Palace with their sons Prince William and Prince Harry (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 16: Princess Diana And Prince William Leaving After Delivering Prince Harry To Mrs. Mynor's Nursery School. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 11: Diana, Princess Of Wales, Holding A Young Prince Harry In Her Arms As She Watches Trooping The Colour With Prince William And Princess Margaret From The Balcony Of Buckingham Palace. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
BALMORAL, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 18: Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prince Harry play on the banks of the River Dee, near Balmoral Castle.during a Summer vacation, on August 18, 1987, in Balmoral, Scotland. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
NECKER ISLAND, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS - JANUARY 9: Diana, Princess of Wales, with Prince Harry ( centre ), and her Niece's and Nephew's on holiday on Necker Island , on January 9, 1989 in Necker Island, British Virgin Islands. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
BATH - MAY 30: (FILE PHOTO) Prince William, Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Harry and Charles, Prince of Wales, attend the wedding of the Duke of Hussey's daughter in May, 1989 in Bath, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
LONDON - SEPTEMBER 12: (FILE PHOTO) Princess Diana with her sons Prince William and Prince Harry at Wetherby School on September 12, 1989 in London, England. It is Prince Harry's first day at school. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)
Diana, The Princess Of Wales Takes Her Sons, Prince'S William, And Harry Out On The Boat ' Maid Of The Mist ' To View Niagara Falls. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
CHERTSEY, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 18: Diana, Princess of Wales, with Prince Harry, on the Depth Charge ride at Thorpe Park, Theme Park, on April 18, 1992 in Chertsey United Kingdom . (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
LECH, AUSTRIA - APRIL 10: Princess Diana With Princes William & Harry Skiing In Lech, Austria (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Diana Princess Of Wales, Prince William & Prince Harry Visit The 'Thorpe Park' Amusement Park. (Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)
AUSTRIA - MARCH 30: Lech: Princess Diana, sons William and Harry going to restaurant in calash In Lech, Austria On March 30, 1993. (Photo by Laurent SOLA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
LECH, AUSTRIA - MARCH 27: Princess Diana With Prince William & Prince Harry In Sleigh During Ski Holiday In Lech, Austria. Behind Are Diana's Friends Kate Menzies And Catherine Soames (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 19: Princess Diana, Prince Harry [ Waving ] And Prince William Watching The Parade Of Veterans On V J Day, The Mall, London. Designer Of Diana's Suit - Tomasz Starzewski (please Check - People Magazine, 04/12/1999) (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
EMBARGOED TO 0001 Sunday July 23, 2017. NO USE AFTER MONDAY JULY 31, 2017. NEWS EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO USE ON THE FRONT COVERS OF ANY UK OR INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINES. NO COMMERCIAL USE (including any use in merchandising, advertising or any other non-editorial use including, for example, calendars, books and supplements). This photograph (whose copyright is vested in the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry) is provided to you on condition that you will make no charge for the supply, release or publication of it and that these conditions and restrictions will apply (and that you will pass these on) to any organisation to whom you supply it. All other requests for use should be directed to the Press Office at Kensington Palace in writing. This photograph released by Kensington Palace, from the personal photo album of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, shows the princess holding Prince William whilst pregnant with Prince Harry, and features in the new ITV documentary 'Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy', which airs on ITV at 21.00hrs on Monday 24th July.
EMBARGOED TO 0001 Sunday July 23, 2017. NO USE AFTER MONDAY JULY 31, 2017. NEWS EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO USE ON THE FRONT COVERS OF ANY UK OR INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINES. NO COMMERCIAL USE (including any use in merchandising, advertising or any other non-editorial use including, for example, calendars, books and supplements). This photograph (whose copyright is vested in the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry) is provided to you on condition that you will make no charge for the supply, release or publication of it and that these conditions and restrictions will apply (and that you will pass these on) to any organisation to whom you supply it. All other requests for use should be directed to the Press Office at Kensington Palace in writing. This photograph released by Kensington Palace, from the personal photo album of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, shows the princess and Prince Harry on holiday and features in the new ITV documentary 'Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy', which airs on ITV at 21.00hrs on Monday 24th July.
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"The main impact of Diana's walk in 1997 was the level of global exposure it provided for land mines not only in Angola but the world," Ralph Legg said. She was a great advocate for a land mine ban, and "her willingness to visit an actual mine field, to place herself right in that context, provided great impetus and gave it a great boost."

The international ban on anti-personnel mines was signed that year and entered into force two years later. So far 164 countries have signed on. "More than 48 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed and 31 countries have been completely cleared of land mines," The HALO Trust said, while production of the weapons has almost dried up.

Harry on his visit also remotely detonated a decades-old mine, met with mine-clearing teams and was visiting the orthopedic hospital his mother visited for her meetings with mine victims.

"I think that will be a very poignant moment of coming full circle," Legg said. "Very striking once people compare those images from the two visits to see how far Angola has come."

The world, however, is hardly free of mines, and Legg said Angola itself still has about 650 mine fields left to clear. Some countries that remain heavily mined include Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, and Afghanistan led the world with at least 2,300 casualties in 2017, according to the Landmine Monitor 2018 report.

"Myanmar was the only known instance of government forces actively planting the weapons" in the year-long period between October 2017 and 2018, the report said.

Angola now hopes to turn some of its mine-free areas into sites for wildlife conservation and ecotourism. The prince was unveiling a project meant to protect wildlife corridors near the sprawling Okavango Delta, a rare inland delta in neighboring Botswana that doesn't flow into a sea or ocean and is home to several endangered species.

Harry called on for international effort to help clear mines from the Okavango watershed in Angola. "Everyone who recognizes the priceless importance of safeguarding Africa's most intact natural landscape should commit fully to this mission," he said.

His first official family tour with his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and their baby, Archie, will continue with stops in Malawi and further events in South Africa with a focus on issues including mental health and women's empowerment.

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