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Posts tagged ‘Royalty on the British Isles’

Prince Harry walks through Angola mine field, echoing Diana

September 27, 2019

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.” He said retracing his mother’s path was “quite emotional.”

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.

“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 the prince said Angola itself still has more than 1,000 mine fields left to clear, 22 years after his mother’s visit. “I wonder if she was still alive whether that would still be the case,” Harry said. “I’m pretty sure she would have seen it through.”

Other 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. “A staggering 60 million people around the world still live in fear and risk of land mines. We cannot turn our backs on them and leave a job half done,” Harry said.

Angola, which has committed a new $60 million for mine clearance, 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.

Prince William meets New Zealand mosque attack responders

April 25, 2019

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Britain’s Prince William on Thursday met with some of the police officers and medics who were the first to respond to last month’s mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Duke of Cambridge arrived in Christchurch in the afternoon after earlier attending an Anzac Day service in Auckland alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. At the service, the prince laid a wreath of red and white flowers on behalf of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II.

William is on a two-day trip to New Zealand and plans to meet later with survivors of the mosque attacks in which 50 people were killed and 50 others wounded. New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush told reporters after the meeting with first responders that the prince had been very supportive and had wanted to make sure the officers and medics were looking after themselves.

Bush said the prince told staff that “A good friend doesn’t pick up the phone when people are in need. You travel to their place and you put your arms around them.” Anzac Day is a memorial holiday on the anniversary of New Zealand and Australian soldiers, known as Anzacs, landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. More than 10,000 soldiers from the two countries were killed during that World War I campaign in what is now Turkey.

On Friday, William will visit the two mosques where the massacres took place March 15.

Britain’s Prince Philip, 97, recovers after Land Rover crash

January 18, 2019

LONDON (AP) — Queen Elizabeth II’s 97-year-old husband Prince Philip was recovering at the royal Sandringham estate after the Land Rover he was driving rolled over on its side in a collision with another vehicle.

An alarming photo showing Philip’s toppled black Land Rover dominated the front pages Friday of Britain’s tabloids. The Daily Mirror’s headline read: “Philip, 97, cheats death in crash.” Buckingham Palace said Philip received a “precautionary checkup” at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn on Friday and was found to have “no injuries of concern.”

Witness Roy Warne told the BBC he was driving home from work Thursday when the accident involving Philip’s Land Rover and a compact car unfolded in front of him shortly before 3 p.m. “I saw a car, a black Rover, come out from a side road and it rolled and ended up on the other side of the road,” Warne said. “I saw it careering, tumbling across the road and ending up on the other side.”

Warne said he helped free a baby from the second car, a Kia, before helping the prince out of his vehicle, which was lying on its side. Warne found Philip trapped in the car, but persuaded him to move one leg at a time to get out. He then pulled him out, saying he was not sure whether it was through the windshield or the sun roof. The prince was able to immediately stand up and walk around.

“He was obviously shaken, and then he went and asked if everyone else was all right,” Warne said. The driver of the Kia, a 28-year-old woman, suffered cuts to her knee while her passenger, a 45-year-old woman, suffered a broken wrist. Both were taken to the hospital and sent home. The 9-month-old baby in the Kia was not injured.

Police said they conducted breath tests on both drivers after the accident and both tested negatively for alcohol. Philip has largely retired from public life but is well known for his fierce independence and his love of driving cars and horse-drawn carriages. He has seemed to be in generally good health in recent months.

There is no upper age limit for driving in Britain, although drivers 70 and over are required to renew their licenses every three years and notify authorities if they have suffered from ailments like strokes, epilepsy or glaucoma.

Buckingham Palace officials said Friday that Philip has a valid driver’s license and has complied with all Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency requirements. He and Elizabeth, 92, have been on an extended Christmas vacation at Sandringham, one of her favored rural homes, located 110 miles (177 kilometers) north of London.

Prime Minister Theresa May sent Philip a message wishing him well after the accident. Police did not provide further details about the crash. “We are aware of the public interest in this case, however, as with any other investigation it would be inappropriate to speculate on the causes of the collision until an investigation is carried out,” Norfolk Constabulary said.

By coincidence, authorities in the area had planned to consider improving safety on the road, the A149. Norfolk County Council will discuss reducing the speed limit on the road from 60 mph to 50 mph and installing safety cameras.

Britain’s Prince Harry is in Zambia for 2-day visit

November 26, 2018

LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) — Britain’s Prince Harry is in Zambia for a two-day visit during which he will attend a commemoration of Zambian military veterans and meet Zambian officials, social workers and young entrepreneurs.

A girl with flowers and traditional dancers welcomed Harry after he stepped off a plane in the Zambian capital of Lusaka on Monday. The Duke of Sussex later planned to attend a reception celebrating ties between Britain and Zambia.

His schedule on Tuesday includes a visit to a military barracks and an event of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, which supports the social work of young people worldwide. Harry is president of the trust.

The prince will also visit Circus Zambia, which provides educational and job opportunities to young people, and BongoHive, a Zambian technology and innovation center that helps entrepreneurs.

Heir’s big birthday: 70 candles lined up for Prince Charles

November 13, 2018

LONDON (AP) — Prince Charles turns 70 Wednesday and is still heir to the throne — a role he has served since he was a young child. He’s not lacking in things to do and shows few signs of slowing down — he is wealthy, extremely active in matters of great importance to him, and preparing to welcome his fourth grandchild into the world when Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, gives birth next spring.

His destiny, however, is to be king, a position he will automatically assume with the death of his 92-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II. When that happens, Charles will be bound by the constitutional requirement that the monarch refrain from trying to influence policy. Until then, Charles is free to lobby for action on climate change, support organic farming, and fight genetically modified crops as he sees fit.

He’s doing all that while increasingly stepping in for the queen and supervising the Prince’s Trust, an ambitious charity he founded 42 years ago that has helped hundreds of thousands of young Britons.

Is the candle-crowded birthday cake a signal that it’s time for the elegantly greying prince to take it easy? Not on your life, says Charles’ wife, Camilla, the duchess of Cornwall. “I don’t think he thinks he’s 70,” she wrote in a birthday tribute in The Telegraph Magazine. “I think it’s just a number to him. There’s no way that he will slow down. You must be joking. I keep saying 70 is getting on a bit. It’s not very old but it is old. You have to slow down a bit.”

The royal family is in the midst of a slow, understated transition. The patriarch, 97-year-old Prince Philip, has formally retired from public life, although he makes occasional appearances in support of the queen.

For her part, the queen still maintains a busy schedule, but she no longer makes long haul flights to far flung parts of the 53-nation Commonwealth, and this year she took the unusual step of lobbying the Commonwealth countries to specify that Charles would be the next leader of the group, a position that is not hereditary.

The support for Charles was unanimous, reflecting not only appreciation for the queen’s work over the decades but a belief that Charles has a strong commitment to the Commonwealth. Charles has also taken a more visible role representing the queen at some important national events, most recently during the Remembrance Day celebrations honoring Britain’s fallen soldiers. He placed the queen’s wreath at the foot of the Cenotaph monument while she watched from a balcony seat.

But his working trips abroad and his speeches at home generate precious little buzz as the press focuses on younger, more photogenic royals and their cute offspring. In a way, Charles is sandwiched between generations, caught between his mother, a symbol of dignity and continuity who has reigned since 1952, and his two immensely popular sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, who have along with their wives come to symbolize the future of the world’s best known monarchy.

William and Harry also remind many of their mother, the late Princess Diana, who died in a Paris car crash in 1997 after a messy divorce from Charles that for a time tarnished his standing with the British public.

It is William and Harry — along with their wives Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan — who appear on the cover of glossy magazines, not the about-to-be-70 Charles. It is the young royals who are seen as glamorous modernizers with the common touch, while Charles is sometimes perceived as dour, preachy and remote.

Camilla says the public doesn’t understand how “incredibly kind” and funny Charles is, and William and Harry — taking part in a rare BBC interview to mark his father’s birthday — praise the way he has used his undefined position as Prince of Wales to advocate so many important causes, such as environmental protection.

But Harry — who has endeared himself to the British public in part with his impish smile and sunny outlook — urged his dad to cut back a bit on the doom and gloom that often accompanies Charles’ pronouncements.

“I would encourage him to remain optimistic because I think it can be very easy to become despondent and negative,” Harry said. “But hopefully with his children and his grandchildren, and a few more grandchildren to come, he can get energy from the family side and then carry on his leadership role.”

He also had this advice: don’t work so hard, and have dinner earlier.

Royals Harry and Meghan name kiwi birds ‘gift’ and ‘sneeze’

October 31, 2018

ROTORUA, New Zealand (AP) — Prince Harry and wife Meghan examined the navel, nostrils and whiskers on New Zealand’s flightless kiwi bird and got to name two tiny chicks on the final day of their 16-day tour of the South Pacific.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited a kiwi hatchery in the town of Rotorua on Wednesday and learned about the breeding program for the threatened birds, which are considered national icons. They gave the 3-day-old kiwi chicks indigenous Maori names: “Koha” meaning “gift” and “Tihei” meaning “sneeze,” from the Maori saying “tihei mauri ora” meaning “the sneeze of life” or the right to speak. The names were gender neutral because their sexes haven’t yet been identified.

The couple also visited a Maori meeting grounds or “marae,” went for a public walkabout and strolled through a redwood forest as they finally enjoyed sunny weather after their stop in New Zealand had earlier been dampened with rain.

At the Te Papaiouru Marae, the couple attended a formal welcoming ceremony and luncheon and were each given striking Maori cloaks, or “korowai.” Harry and Meghan arrived in New Zealand on Sunday after earlier visiting Australia, Fiji and Tonga. During public walkabouts they have been greeted by hundreds of enthusiastic fans.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this week there seems to be little appetite for changing New Zealand from a constitutional monarchy that recognizes Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II to a republic. “I do not pick up from the New Zealand public that this is high on their agenda. That this is an issue that they see of such importance that we need to be debating it in the current environment for New Zealand,” she said. “And I take my steer from them.”

On the trip, Meghan has shown she is prepared to continue speaking out about feminist issues in her new role as a royal. In Wellington, she gave a speech congratulating the country on becoming the first in the world to allow women to vote some 125 years ago.

Royals Harry and Meghan dedicate forest reserves in Tonga

October 26, 2018

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga (AP) — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Friday dedicated two forest reserves in Tonga as they continued their trip of the South Pacific. Prince Harry said Tonga is leading by example and “understands deeply” the impact of environmental changes because the islands of the archipelago are directly affected.

Harry and wife Meghan visited Tupou College to make the dedication. The high school was founded in 1866 and is believed to be the oldest in the region. It’s home to the last remaining forest on Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu. The other reserve is on the island of Eua.

“Planting trees and conserving forests helps us in so many ways,” Harry said. “It is a simple but effective way to restore and repair our environment, clean the air and protect habitat.” The couple dedicated the two reserves to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy environmental initiative, which was started in 2015 and has been signed on to by 42 of the Commonwealth’s 53 countries.

Earlier in the day, the royal couple visited an exhibition celebrating Tongan handicrafts, including traditional mats and tapa cloth. They also met with political leaders. Tonga, home to just 106,000 people, is also known as the friendly islands. It was a British protectorate before gaining independence in 1970 and remains a part of the Commonwealth group of nations.

On Friday afternoon, the couple left Tonga bound for Australia, where they began their 16-day tour of four nations. They are returning to Australia to catch the final days of the Invictus Games, which Harry founded in 2014. The games give sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball.

After Australia, the couple will finish their trip with a four-day visit to New Zealand.

Perry reported from Wellington, New Zealand.

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