Prince Harry took a rare opportunity to speak about the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, while opening a children’s centre in Lesotho on Thursday.
The Prince, who is currently undertaking a seven-day tour of South Africa, said his mother’s passing had left “a gaping hole that could never be filled.”
In an emotional and touching speech, Harry voiced his feelings as he opened the Mamohato Children’s Centre as part of his ongoing work for the charity Sentebale. The centre will act as a flagship for all of Sentebale’s work with vulnerable children in Lesotho, including orphans, children living with HIV and those with disabilities.
“They were far younger than me, and of course, their situation was a great deal more challenging than my own,” he said, adding “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.”
Diana, Princess of Wales died in a car crash in Paris in 1997. At the time, she was one of the most photographed women in the world and her two sons, William and Harry, have spoken of her in public on only a handful of occasions since her death.
Harry, who last visited Lesotho privately in 2014, started Sentebale in 2006 with his close friend Prince Seeiso of Lesotho. Devoted to the memories of their late mothers, the charity devoted to helping the most vulnerable children in Lesotho and it is a cause both men have shown passion in.
While at the Mamohato Children’s Centre on Thursday, Harry dedicated the dining hall to his mother’s memory: the Diana, Princess of Wales Hall and referenced Olga Powell, his childhood nanny with a plaque dedicated in her memory. Powell famously took care of both Harry and brother, William, during the breakdown of their parents’s marriage and the two remained close to her until her death in 2012.
Ahead of the opening, Sentebale’s CEO, Cathy Ferrier, said: “The centre is named after Seeiso’s mother but we felt it was right to acknowledge Harry’s mother as well so we decided that the dining hall was the appropriate place, it’s the place where all the children will gather three times a day and do plays and drama as well so it felt like the right kind of place.”
Speaking in 2010 during a joint tour of Africa, Prince William told an interviewer that Diana would “[Be] very proud of what Harry’s done [with] Sentebale bearing in mind that it’s actually his own charity that he started.”
Harry will travel to four separate parts of the region during his tour, including a visit to the Kruger National Park where he’ll see how conservation efforts are progressing and get an idea of the role rangers play in its success.
Harry will also travel to Johannesburg during the final leg of the visit for a variety of engagements in memory of the late President Nelson Mandela.