Patrick Jephson, who was private secretary to The Princess of Wales between 1988 and 1996, says the Duke of Sussex’s trip to an Angolan minefield will be a good opportunity to repair the damage of a “summer of hostile headlines”. This includes Harry and Meghan taking four private jets after preaching about climate change.
The duke’s visit to the minefield will echo Diana’s anti-mine work in Africa too.
But while Mr Jephson praised Harry for continuing Diana’s charitable work, he also says he needs to make a decision about whether he wants to be a celebrity or a royal as he treads through “the minefield of public life”.
He wrote in the Telegraph: “More than two decades will separate the two images of familiar royal figures trussed up in visor and body armour, but beyond this similarity lie differences of royal style that tell us quite a lot about how Prince Harry is following in his mother’s careful footsteps – and how he is charting his own very different path through the minefield of public life.
“To understand the success of Diana’s anti-mines work – much of it in the face of hostility for straying into what critics saw as political territory – we have to look back to her earlier, more traditional royal tour to another African country, Zimbabwe, four years before the famous Angola photo call.
Prince Harry will visit Angola during his Africa tour
Princess Diana carried out anti-mine work in Angola too
“It was the first sub-Saharan tour that I had organised and although it had its fair share of challenges, it left the Princess – and me, for that matter – fascinated by that great continent.
“Harry, as we know, has inherited his mother’s gift for spontaneous charm. He’ll need every ounce of it during the Africa tour which he is about to lead, as it’s probably the greatest diplomatic test of his royal career to date. It’s also a test of his ability to repair the damage of a summer of hostile headlines.”
The royals will visit Africa from September 23 to October 2.
Meghan and Archie will spend the duration in South Africa, but Harry will leave his family to tour Angola, Malawi and Botswana before being reunited with them in Johannesburg.
The Princess of Wales was renowned for her charity work
Diana campaigned for landmines to be outlawed during a visit she made to Angola in 1997.
A post about the tour on the royal’s official Instagram account said: “The Duke is especially proud to continue the legacy left by his mother with her work in Angola as he joins Halo Trust again in an effort to rid the world of landmines.”
Harry will also pay tribute to a British soldier killed by an elephant during anti-poaching operations in Malawi when he visits the country to focus attention on efforts to protect endangered animals.
Mr Jephson added Harry needs to focus on the charitable side of the trip and not blur the lines between royalty and celebrity.
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Prince Harry previously helped clear landmines in Mozambique
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will spend 10 days in Africa
He said: “We must hope that the Duke himself is blessed with one of those positive outcomes. It’s largely in his own hands.
“At 35, he is, after all, the same age as his mother was when she took those steps onto dangerous ground in Angola. But it would be hard to think of a more hazardous minefield for an earnest prince than the world of celebrity American TV.
“The blurry line between royalty and celebrity doesn’t offer a clear path to safe ground.
“Harry, as a new father, will surely wonder how best to protect his family from the hazards of being a socially-concerned modern prince.
Meghan Markle will also speak about the rising violence against women in South Africa
“Luckily, he isn’t the first to face the uncharted dangers and opportunities that go with royal rank. Any junior duke looking for advice from a very senior one might find wisdom in Prince Philip’s words: ‘It would have been very easy to play to the gallery but I took a conscious decision not to do that. Safer not to be too popular. You can’t fall too far.’”
The Duchess of Sussex is expected to speak about the rising violence against women in South Africa during the trip.
Campaigners took to the streets of Cape Town earlier this month to protest at what they claimed was their government’s failure to deal with the problem.
This followed a series of attacks that have shocked the African nation.
It is understood Meghan and Harry watched the South African president Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to his country following days of protests, when he acknowledged the African nation was facing a national crisis of violence against women.