Harry continued his royal tour of Africa on Saturday by visiting the Born Free to Shine project in Luanda, Angola. First Lady Ana Dias Lourenço spearheaded the initiative focusing on education, medical testing and treatment to prevent HIV transmission from mothers to babies.
The Duke of Sussex met with a group of expectant mothers receiving information on the disease, visited the neonatal ward and hung out with HIV+ teenagers during his visit.
In April 1987, Princess Diana arrived at London Middlesex Hospital to open the UK’s first unit dedicated to treating people with HIV and AIDS. In a monumental moment, she was photographed shaking the hand of a man with the illness without gloves — challenging the notion that HIV and AIDS was passed simply by touch.
“If a royal was allowed to go in shake a patient’s hands, somebody at the bus stop or the supermarket could do the same,” John O’Reilly, a nurse who witnessed Diana’s hospital visit, told the BBC. “That really educated people.”
“When, that April, she shook the hand of a 32-year-old man with HIV, in front of the cameras, she knew exactly what she was doing,” Prince Harry said in a moving speech as he accepted the Attitude Legacy Award on his mother’s behalf in 2017. “She was using her position as Princess of Wales, the most famous woman in the world, to challenge everyone to educate themselves, to find their compassion, and to reach out to those who need help instead of pushing them away.”
The poignant visit comes just one day after Prince Harry followed in his mother’s footsteps by visiting a landmine field in Angola, just as she had in 1997. He then headed to the exact site where his mother walked 22 years ago in Huambo. The former mine field where Diana memorably walked in protective clothing is now a vibrant community, with several colleges, schools and small businesses. A tree, dubbed The Diana Tree, marks the spot where she was photographed in 1997.
“It has been emotional retracing my mother’s steps along this street 22 years on, and to see the transformation that has taken place, from an unsafe and desolate place into a vibrant community of local businesses and colleges,” Harry said in a speech at the site. “This is a wonderful example of how the UK partnership with Angola can address the issue of landmines, bringing prosperity to an area, creating jobs, helping people access education and healthcare, and making communities safer. The work of de-mining is dangerous, expensive and laborious, and I have the utmost admiration and respect for all who do this hazardous work and risk their lives in service of their community.”
He continued, “I am incredibly proud as I know my mother would’ve been, of the role that the United Kingdom has played in this transformation through funding and the expertise brought by UK specialist organisations such as the HALO Trust and Mines Advisory Group.”
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Harry’s day began with an honor guard at the Presidential Palace, where the royal had an audience with President of Angola João Lourenço.
“Continuing his visit in Angola, The Duke of Sussex met President João Lourenço this morning to thank him for the incredibly warm welcome in his country,” read a post from the Sussex Royal Instagram account. “The trip to Angola has been very important to The Duke, allowing him to see the impact his mother has had, and also highlight issues that are so important to him, especially continuing her work to rid the world of land mines.”