Prince Harry Reflects on First Trip to Africa After Princess Diana’s Death: It’s ‘Where I Feel More Like Myself’

Where he goes to get away from it all. Prince Harry reflected on his first trip to Africa back in 1997, shortly after his mother Princess Diana’s tragic death, in a new interview about his involvement with the 500 Elephants relocation project.

“I first came in 1997, straight after my mum died,” the 32-year-old prince told Town & Country for its February issue. “My dad told my brother and me to pack our bags — we were going to Africa to get away from it all. My brother and I were brought up outdoors. We appreciate nature and everything about it. But it became more. … This is where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world.”

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Harry spent three weeks in Malawi last August helping the nation’s African Parks organization wrangle 500 elephants in a human-engineered migration designed to help keep them alive and thriving in a pioneering conservation effort.

“I wish I could spend more time in Africa,” he told the magazine. “I have this intense sense of complete relaxation and normality here. To not get recognized, to lose myself in the bush with what I would call the most down-to-earth people on the planet, people [dedicated to conservation] with no ulterior motives, no agendas, who would sacrifice everything for the betterment of nature … I talk to them about their jobs, about what they do. And I learn so much.”

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The nature lover added that he truly believes the only way that the world can help wildlife in need — and on a bigger scale, the planet at large — is if nations with differing views agree to work together.

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“Everyone has a different opinion; every country has a different way of doing things,” he said. “But I do believe that we need a regulatory body so that everyone who owns or manages wildlife is subject to inspection and rated on how well they look after the animals and how the communities benefit. I know I’m going to get criticized for this, but we have to come together. You know what Stevie Wonder said: ‘You need teamwork to make the dream work.’ I use that a lot.”

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