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 and the HALO Trust.
In a speech honouring the work of his late mother, Princess Diana, 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.
“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 her determination to end the suffering of vulnerable people, including children, Harry 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 visited minefields in Angola and Mozambique, witnessing their impact on communities.
Recalling his mother’s last overseas tour to Bosnia in August 1997, Harry spoke of two young victims she had met, Malic and Zarko, who were at the London event.
“Malic and Žarko are now grown men and are with us today. Twenty 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 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.”
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.”
Priti Patel, the British government’s international development secretary, joined the prince to announce that the Department for International Development was trebling its support for landmine clearance to approximately $165m over three years.
In 2015 over 1600 people were killed and almost 5000 injured by landmines or other explosive devices left behind by conflict. More than a third were children.
Major-General James Cowan, chief executive of the HALO Trust, said the funding marked “the start of a countdown to a mine-free world”.
He said: “As with the eradication of smallpox, a mine-free world is not a pipe dream but a real possibility, but only with the right financial support.”