Gettin' royally dirty up in the rainforest! Prince Harry visited the Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil on Wednesday, June 25, where he planted trees and played with local kids. The excursion site was located about 90 minutes outside of Sao Paulo. (Us Weekly's European Bureau Chief Omid Scobie is among the journalists traveling with Harry during his South American tour.)
Harry, 29, sweating under blazing sunshine and nearly 90 degree heat, joked "this could take a while" before he started planting the tree. The Prince (swoon!) dug his own hole, dropped a manaca da sera sapling into it, backfilled, watered, and even hammered his own plaque—inscribed in Portuguese with "Principle Henry de Gales"—into the ground. He joked, "If I hit it any harder, it's going to break."
Harry was covered in sweat and dirt and his face was rosy pink [in color] after completing the arduous task.
A local reporter shouted, "Did you enjoy it?" to which Harry replied, "Planting trees, it's what we do." The Prince also said it was the first Manaca tree he's ever planted and laughed, "I can't even pronounce it."
The royal was in the Atlantic Rainforest to learn about the Serra do Mar and Atlantic Forest Mosaics System project, which helps locals to make a living from natural resources—as opposed to chopping down trees. Like his father, Prince Charles, Harry is deeply concerned about global deforestation.
The Mosaics System project's coordinator Eduardo Trani tells Us he was surprised Prince Harry was so hands-on when planting the tree. "I didn't think he would get so involved," Trani said, noting the Prince said he liked the way children get involved in the projects.
The group then headed to a cooking demo in the surrounding village of Cota, where Harry tried a Brazilian dish called caponata. The staple, traditionally made with carrots, onions, raisins, and olive oil, had a special added ingredient of banana, courtesy of chef David Hertz.
Hertz, 40, runs a non-profit organization called Gastromotiva, which teaches locals to make nutritious foods using all components of bananas—including the skin. "He really liked the caponata," Hertz says of the Prince. "He had two mouthfuls and I was really surprised because we were told he wouldn’t eat anything. He said he likes cooking so I gave him a cookery book as a gift."
One of Harry's guides Ester Miceno has actually lived in the village of Cota her entire life. The 53-year-old local hoped to receive a kiss from the dashing royal, but was disappointed when he demurred because "too many other women would want one." Unfazed, Miceno said: "I have been following his life since he was a child. His mother Princess Diana was very famous here in Brazil and I think he is very handsome, open-minded and receptive like his mother."