Prince Harry has attended the Landmine Free World 2025 Reception at Kensington Palace, hosted by the world's two leading landmine charities, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and The HALO, in a bid to free the world of landmines. In a powerful speech honouring the tireless work of his late mum, Princess Diana, who campaigned against the issue of landmine use up until her tragic death in 1997, Harry told guests: “Twenty years ago, in the last months of her life, my mother campaigned to draw attention to the horrific and indiscriminate impact of landmines. She visited affected areas such as Huambo in Angola and Travnik in Bosnia. She heard how people in these communities lived in constant fear that each step may be their last. She met with those who had suffered life changing injuries as a result of anti-personnel mines, she listened to their stories, and helped share them with the world.”
Harry hopes to rid the world of landmines by 2025
Discussing his mother’s desire to help others, Harry added: “At the time, the attention my mother brought to this issue wasn’t universally popular; some believed she had stepped over the line into the arena of political campaigning – but for her this wasn't about politics; it was about people. She was an advocate for all those who she felt needed her voice most.” Speaking of Princess Diana’s determination to end the suffering of vulnerable people, including children, he continued: “My mother had been shocked and appalled by the impact that landmines were having on incredibly vulnerable people and on children in particular. She did not understand why more people were not willing to address the cause of so much suffering. She refused to accept that these destructive weapons should be left where they were, just because they were perceived as too expensive and difficult to remove.”
Harry has previously visited minefields in Angola and Mozambique, witnessing first-hand their devastating impact on communities. Remembering his mum’s last overseas tour in Bosnia in August 1997, Harry spoke of two young victims she had met before her untimely death, called Malic and Zarko - who were in attendance at the event. “Malic and Žarko, are now grown men and are with us today. 20 years on, they both still struggle with their physical and emotional injuries and with the high costs of replacing their prosthetics. When my mother said goodbye to Žarko that August, just weeks before her untimely death, she told him he would not be forgotten."
Talking to Malic, who now has a four-year-old son, after his speech, Harry said: "Perhaps we can meet again when the world is landmine-free. I will be 40 by then." Meanwhile, Zarko, spoke of the day he met Diana. "I was so surprised when I saw her. I could not believe my eyes - it was a princess, wearing blue jeans. I remember her words when she was leaving. She told us, 'You are not going to be forgotten.' What she said gave me a lot of strength whenever I have had hard times. When she got killed I could not believe it. I felt like a part of me had disappeared. I had a sinking feeling."