Why Africa is a special place for William and Harry: 'That’s as close as they can be to being normal'

Danielle Stacey
Royal Correspondent

The Royal Family has travelled all over the world for official tours and their private holidays, but there are some places that they keep going back to time and time again.

For Prince William, 37, and Prince Harry, 34, their go-to destination is Africa.

The young royals, then aged 15 and 12, visited Botswana shortly after their mother Princess Diana died in 1997.

In an interview with Town & Country in 2017, Harry said: "I first came in 1997, straight after my mum died. My dad told my brother and me to pack our bags—we were going to Africa to get away from it all.

"This is where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world. I wish I could spend more time in Africa. I have this intense sense of complete relaxation and normality here.”

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Prince William and Prince Harry visit a children's orphanage in the mountains near Semongkong, Lesotho, in 2010. [Photo: PA]

Royal commentator Omid Scobie tells Yahoo UK’s ‘The Royal Box’: “For Harry it [Africa] was a place that, really shortly after his mother’s death, it was the first place he could actually go and feel he could mourn in private and feel left alone and not feel like a member of the Royal Family, he felt like just Harry.

“I think he’s really found himself over the years and also been able to experience really special moments in his life in Africa.”

When Harry began dating Meghan Markle in 2016, they flew to Botswana for their third date and camped out under the stars.

They visited again in 2017 to assist Dr. Mike Chase of Elephants Without Borders in equipping a bull elephant with a satellite collar and recently released images from that trip on their Instagram account.

This autumn the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will undertake an official royal tour to Africa. It also marks another special moment in their lives, as their three-month-old son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor will be joining them.

The Sun’s former royal editor Duncan Larcombe says Botswana is a “special place for Harry,” and has been a sanctuary for him when there have been lows in his life.

In 2008, the prince's deployment to Helmand in Afghanistan was revealed by Australian women's magazine, New Idea, who were not aware of the media blackout.

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William and Harry in Botswana in 2010. [Photo: PA]

In the interest of his safety and others, Harry was withdrawn immediately.

Larcombe says: “He [Harry] was absolutely furious. Where did he go? With Chelsy [Davy], straight to Botswana.”

“It’s where he goes when there’s steam coming out of his ears to calm down.”

Prince William also spent time travelling around Africa during his gap year working on conservation and wildlife projects in 2000.

During a holiday to Kenya in October 2010, William proposed to long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton. The couple were married at Westminster Abbey the following year.

Larcombe adds: “They [Royals] go to places where they can be anonymous and that’s as close as they can be to being normal.”