Prince fol­lows mom’s ex­am­ple

Harry opens up his heart to or­phans at new Le­sotho HIV cen­tre

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

few adults left in the king­dom to care for them.

In an emo­tional speech at the Mamo­hato Chil­dren’s Cen­tre, Harry talked of how he fell in love with the chil­dren of Le­sotho, known as the “king­dom in the sky”, when he vis­ited dur­ing his gap year trav­els af­ter leav­ing Eton.

He said: “Eleven years ago I made my first visit to Le­sotho... As we trav­elled the coun­try I was... struck by the many chil­dren I met whose lives had been shat­tered by the loss of a par­ent and in some cases both.

“I couldn’t be­lieve that so many chil­dren had been robbed of their child­hoods by ex­treme poverty and the rav­ages of HIV and AIDS. Be­hind those smiles it was clear they des­per­ately needed care, at­ten­tion and above all, love.”

He con­tin­ued: “Al­though our sit­u­a­tions couldn’t have been more dif­fer­ent, I felt an over­whelm­ing con­nec­tion to many of the chil­dren I met.

“They were far younger than me, and of course, their sit­u­a­tion was a great deal more chal­leng­ing than my own.

“Nonethe­less, we shared a sim­i­lar feel­ing of loss, hav­ing a loved one, in my case a par­ent, snatched away so sud­denly. I, like them, knew there would al­ways be a gap­ing hole that could never be filled.

“For so many of the chil- dren in Le­sotho, that sit­u­a­tion was com­pounded by the harsh en­vi­ron­ment and ex­treme poverty they faced. At the age of just eight or nine tak­ing on the re­spon­si­bil­ity of car­ing for broth­ers and sis­ters there was sim­ply no time for be­ing a child any­more.”

Those ex­pe­ri­ences in­spired him to set up Sete­bale with Prince Seeiso of Le­sotho. The char­ity’s name, in mem­ory of his late mother, Princess Diana, means “forget me not”.

The Mamo­hato Chil­dren’s Cen­tre, built by the char­ity at a cost of £2 mil­lion, will pro­vide 1 500 vul­ner­a­ble young chil­dren each year with res­i­den­tial camps where they can learn to man­age their con­di­tion and go on to enjoy pro­duc­tive lives in a coun­try where there is still a huge stigma around the dis­ease.

Speak­ing af­ter their meet­ing, Mutsu said: “I feel very happy, very ex­cited. I’m very com­fort­able around Harry, he is very com­fort­able around me. We click. He said to me I’ve grown up.”

Mutsu said he had no idea of his fam­ily back­ground – when or how he was or­phaned – but de­scribed the or­phan­age as his “home”.

He said of the new cen­tre: “This is a won­der­ful place for chil­dren liv­ing with HIV and dis­abil­i­ties. It’s meant to help all the chil­dren in need. We are very grate­ful and thank­ful for this.”

Harry, mean­while, was clearly en­joy­ing see­ing the fruits of his labour in the flesh, danc­ing and chat­ting with many of the chil­dren the cen­tre will help.

In a pho­tog­ra­phy work­shop, the royal joker couldn’t help but lark for the cam­era as the chil­dren took Po­laroids of him, don­ning a pair of silly sun­glasses.

Ear­lier in the day the prince, who has thin­ning hair, had mulled whether he should wear a hat, pre­sum­ably to pro­tect his head and pale skin.

And in a speech Le­sotho’s monarch, King Letsie III, re­ferred to Harry’s sin­gle sta­tus as he said he would love to in­tro­duce him one day as “Prince Harry and...”

“But we’ll have to wait a few years for that,” the King joked, prompt­ing the royal bach­e­lor to snort with laugh­ter.

The prince has named parts of the new Mamo­hato Chil­dren’s Cen­tre in mem­ory of his late mother, and also his beloved child­hood nanny Olga Pow­ell.

Diana will live on in the din­ing hall, cho­sen be­cause it is where the chil­dren be­ing helped by the cen­tre will come to­gether three times a day.

In the room, one wall is painted with a tree, with leaves fea­tur­ing the names of donors in­clud­ing Sir El­ton John and hus­band David Fur­nish and their two young sons Eli­jah and Zachary. – Daily Mail

PIC­TURES: REUTERS, EPA

FORGET ME NOT: Bri­tain’s Prince Harry and Le­sotho’s Prince Seeiso dur­ing a visit to the Mamo­hato Chil­dren’s Cen­tre in Thaba Bo­siu, Le­sotho, this week. Prince Harry is in the coun­try on be­half of Sentebale, the char­ity he founded with Prince Seeiso, in mem­ory of their moth­ers.

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