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Harry tells how Africa became his refuge after Diana’s death

The Duke of Sussex was speaking in Botswana.

Harry said he enjoys the sense of escapism he gets from visiting Africa (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Harry said he enjoys the sense of escapism he gets from visiting Africa (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent in Kasane, Botswana

The Duke of Sussex has told how Africa became his refuge following the death of his mother Diana, as he returned to his second home of Botswana.

Harry is making a working visit to the country that holds special memories for him, and it was also where he brought Meghan soon after they first met and where their love blossomed.

Speaking as he helped local school children plant trees for a community nature reserve on the banks of the River Chobe, Harry said: “Fifteen years I’ve been coming here, it’s a sense of escapism, a real sense of purpose… I have some of my closest friends here over the years.

“I came here in 1997 or 1998 straight after my mum died, so it was a nice place to get away from it all.

“I feel deeply connected to this place and to Africa.”

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Harry met local school children planting trees in Botswana (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Harry was 12 and William 15 when their mother was killed in a car crash in Paris on August 31 1997.

At the time of Diana’s death, William described the “very good time” they were having at Balmoral, where they were playing with their cousins, when his mother phoned.

The duke, interviewed with his brother for a documentary, said: “Harry and I were in a desperate rush to say goodbye, you know ‘see you later’.

“If I’d known now obviously what was going to happen I’d wouldn’t have been so blase about it and everything else.

“But that phone call sticks in my mind quite heavily.”

Harry recounted how after his brother it was his turn to chat to his mother.

“It was her speaking from Paris, I can’t really necessarily remember what I said but what I do remember is probably regretting for the rest of my life how short the phone call was,” he said.

Charles took his son Harry to Africa to offer the young boy the time and space to deal with his mother’s death.

PA

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