The Heartbreaking Reason Prince Harry Has a Special Connection With Africa

Meghan Markle is still officially on maternity leave, staying out of the spotlight so she can rest and enjoy her time with baby Archie Harrison. Still, the time is rapidly approaching when Markle and her husband, Prince Harry, will be rejoining the ranks of working royals and start traveling the world, bringing awareness to causes of great importance to them.

Prince Harry
Prince Harry | Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Recently, the couple announced that their first major engagement post-maternity leave, and their first official tour as a family, will be an extensive visit to Africa. This trip is notable for several reasons, including one that will likely leave the most ardent royal fans a little bit misty in the eyes.

Prince Harry feels ‘most like himself’ in Africa

View this post on Instagram

Today is #WorldElephantDay and we are pleased to announce that since we followed our friends at @ElephantswithoutBorders (EWB) on Instagram in July, when we were celebrating the environment, you and our friend @TheEllenFund (@TheEllenShow) have spread the word and EWB have been able to help protect 25 elephants by fitting them with satellite navigation collars! These collars allow the team at EWB to track the elephants, as well as to learn their essential migratory patterns to keep their corridors safe and open so future generations of elephants can roam freely. In honour of this amazing support, EWB have named their most recently collared Elephant…ELLEN! We can’t wait to see where she will go! Two years ago on World Elephant Day, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined Dr Chase to help in this conservation effort. Below, a few words from Mike and his partner Kelly at EWB: • ‘Today is a day to honor and celebrate the majestic elephant and to make a strong stand for conserving and protecting one of the world’s most beloved animals. elephants are intelligent, sentient beings capable of emotions from joy to grief. They are ‘environmental engineers,’ a key-stone umbrella species, and the fight to save them is in effect, a fight to save entire ecosystems and all wildlife. Today elephants are facing many challenges; habitat loss and competition for resources creates conflict with humans, climate change and fires destroy much needed resources and poaching for the demand of ivory makes elephants bigger targets than ever. African elephants are especially prone to human-wildlife conflict because of their large home ranges. Finding, preserving and creating elephant corridors is therefore of great importance in helping to maintain habitats suitable for movement and minimising human-elephant conflict. Corridors are a mitigation technique to better the livelihoods of local communities and the elephants themselves, by providing environment and ample space for wildlife to navigate from one habitat patch to another, without affecting the livelihoods of communities.’ • EWB – Dr Mike Chase, Ms Kelly Landen . by DOS © SussexRoyal Additional photos: EWB

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

When Princess Diana died tragically in 1997, Prince Harry was only 12 years old. In order to escape the intense public scrutiny, Prince Harry and his brother, Prince William, traveled to Botswana. The far-away country provided solace for the young brothers, and as Prince Harry revealed in an intimate 2017 interview, was the first place where they really mourned for their mother. He stated that he feels “more like himself” in Africa than in any other place in the world, and when he visits, he is able to enjoy a complete sense of normalcy and relaxation. 

Royal insiders have backed up Prince Harry’s claim, acknowledging the prince is able to feel “like just Harry” when he comes to Africa, instead of a public figure or a high-profile member of the royal family. As the years have progressed, Prince Harry has been able to enjoy many of the most special moments in his life in Africa, including some of his best, early memories with Meghan Markle.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry bonded in Africa before their marriage

View this post on Instagram

Last week, HRH The Duke of Sussex was proud to co-host a fundraising event for National Geographic’s @intotheokavango – a documentary film that highlights the vulnerability of the critical ecosystem that is The Okavango Delta and its source rivers in Angola. The Okavango Delta is the primary water source for a million people and is home to the world's largest remaining elephant population. His Royal Highness has a long-standing love of Africa and a connection with Botswana and Angola for over 20 years. The Duke is grateful to see National Geographic partnering with the Angolan government, @thehalotrust, @africanparksnetwork and many others in protecting this extraordinary habitat by supporting the sustainable management of the river basin's resources and focusing on a conservation economy. HRH – “Millions of people, food security and regional power generation are dependant on these free-flowing rivers. Threats such as uncontrolled fires, the bushmeat trade, unsustainable harvesting of the forest and rapid biodiversity loss are already destroying this incredible and delicate landscape. Known by the locals as ‘Source of life’, this ecosystem is wilderness at its best, playing an absolutely crucial role for the planet, people and wildlife. This is our one and only chance to save this magnificent last Eden.” (Photos: Cory Richards and John Hilton)

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

When Meghan Markle and Prince Harry started dating in the summer of 2016, Prince Harry couldn’t wait to introduce his actress girlfriend to all of his favorite places, including Africa. In fact, for their third official date, the couple flew to Botswana and spent time alone together, camping out under the stars and, according to Prince Harry, really getting to know each other. 

The following year, just a couple months prior to their engagement, the couple visited Africa again, helping with conservation efforts and spending quality time together. Ultimately, Africa plays a big role in their love story. Markle’s engagement ring even holds a special memento of the continent, as the center stone of her stunning ring is from Botswana. 

The Africa trip could be a fresh beginning for the couple

It’s no secret that Meghan Markle has been lambasted by the press on many occasions. During the past year, Markle has suffered from a number of harsh tabloid rumors, and lately, Prince Harry’s reputation has suffered as well. When their upcoming trip to Africa was announced, royal fans quickly realized that the journey could be a whole new beginning for the couple, and help them to recover from the difficulties of the past year. While in Africa, Markle and Prince Harry will work with their favorite charities, raising awareness of the work that they do and recommitting themselves to conservation efforts. It’s likely they will make lots of new fans and possibly start to change the narrative surrounding them. 

As Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will bring Archie Harrison with them, they will be able to introduce their son to the continent that they love so much. Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet to learn even more about the royal’s upcoming trip to Africa.