Prince Harry invokes memory of his mother’s campaigning as he urges greater efforts to tackle landmines

The Duke of Sussex speaking on landmines

The Duke of Sussex has urged the public not to forget his mother’s words on landmines, as he argues the remnants of war must finally be cleared from Angola to allow wildlife and tourists to return. The Duke, whose mother Diana, Princess of Wales, became the face of the campaign in her lifetime, echoed her words to say landmines “are a humanitarian issue not a political one”, urging countries not to leave the mission “half done”.

Saying it was “pretty shocking” to learn that de-mining funding had been cut by nearly 90 per cent in the last decade, he urged the international community to help Angola complete its “long journey, full of heartache and frustration” to safety. In a speech at a Chatham House Africa Programme event, London, he made the case particularly for the wildlife of the Okavango Delta, where animals too have been armed by the “remnants of war” including landmines. “My hope is that through this collaboration, minefields can be cleared, land can be protected,  wildlife can be free to return to where they once roamed, and Angolans can reap the rewards by coexisting with the one constant that will draw people in from all over the world –  the extraordinary setting that they call home,” he said.

The Duke is understood to be planning a trip to the country in the autumn, working with the HALO Trust on the issue of landmines. His visit, which will likely see him accompanied in some capacity by the Duchess and his son Archie, will be a major tourism coup for the region, showing potential holidaymakers that the land is safe in echoes of his mother’s  famous walk through the minefield. “This event is the culmination of a great effort by many people to progress the vital mission of de-mining Angola – and putting it back on the map as a tourist destination,” he said of the Chatham House event. He went on to reference the words of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997, when she was heavily criticised for her involvement in the issue of landmines and called a “loose cannon” by one British minister.

“I’m not a political figure, nor do I want to be one,” she said then. “But I come with my heart, and I want to bring awareness to people in distress, whether it’s in Angola or any part of the world. The fact is I’m a humanitarian figure. Always have been and always will be.” Speaking today, the Duke said: “I first visited Chatham House in June 2017 to take part in a scenario planning exercise – some of you in the room today were here with me. “That exercise showed me the importance of landmine clearance within a humanitarian emergency because, let’s not forget, land mines are a humanitarian issue NOT a political one.” Saying countries must not “leave a job left half done”, he added: “In fact I was told just the other day of the positive transformation in Huambo since my mother walked that minefield all those years ago.

“What is less well-known is the impact landmines can have on conservation and wildlife, and therefore the econo-my.” He continued: “Angola is an important example of a country leading the way in clearing the remnants of war to secure a better future for its people and its environment – it has been a long journey, one full of heartache and frustration I’m sure, but now with the optimism and encouragement from your Government Minister, I truly believe that Angola will become a shining example to the rest of the continent.” The event included a major announcement about a new initiative between The HALO Trust and the government of Angola, who are investing $60 million to clear landmines surrounding the Angolan Okavango watershed. Organisers explained that large swathes of south-eastern Angola were ripe for eco-tourism but virtually inaccessible due to landmines, a legacy of the country’s bitter civil war that ended in 2002.

More than one million landmines were planted across the country during the conflict, decimating rural regions and rendering large areas of the country unsafe for both local people and animals including African elephants, lions, cheetahs and hundreds of species of birds. The HALO Trust, which has been working in Angola since 1994, during which time it has destroyed more than 95,000 landmines and cleared 840 minefields, estimates that there is still more than one thousand minefields to be cleared, an area of 121 km2. The new investment, over five years, will fund the clearance of 153 minefields in the south-eastern province of Cuando Cubango inside two national parks, the Mavinga and the Luengue-Luiana. HALO estimates it will need a further $60 million to clear the rest. The 1997 Landmine Treaty, to which it is a signatory, pledges to clear all landmines by 2025. Jane Cooking, chief executive MAG, another international anti-landmine organisation, who took part in the panel discussion, spoke about Diana’s work. She said: “She was very frustrated that what she was doing was being misconstrued as a political issue, not a humanitarian one. “The point was the landmines treaty remains one of the rare pieces of international law where rather than everybody having to get on board, and you just end up with the lowest common denominator, a group of countries led by Canada said ‘scrap this, we are not going anywhere with this. This is not going to work. Those that are up for it, let’s just do it”. “Princess Diana put her weight behind it. So all this diplomatic effort which had been going on for years, she really helped get it over the line.  “We broke the rules and she broke to rules to do that wonderful thing.”


Bill's Thick Cut Orange Marmalade

Bill's Grapefruit and Lime Marmalade

A week (17 – 24 June 2019) in Somerset, while HRH King Willem-Alexander is installed as Companion of the ancient Order of the Garter by HM  Queen Elizabeth II. Also HRH King Felipe of Spain was installed. And the Royal Ascott immediately afterwards…



Prince Harry: Investing in sport for disadvantaged youth would save ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’

The Duke of Sussex has argued investment in grassroots sports would save “hundreds of millions of pounds” in treating the problems of a lost generation of young people, as he joins Anthony Joshua and Nicola Adams in the boxing ring. The Duke, who has previously spoken about how boxing has helped his own mental wellness, said supporting sports projects would not only change lives but save lives. Speaking at the launch of Made By Sport, a charity coalition to raise £40 million to boost sport in disadvantaged communities, he said the country could spend hundreds of millions of pounds on the problems caused by a lack of sport in young people’s lives or “you rip up all those cheques and start at the beginning to prevent it from happening in the first place”. At the event, at the Black Prince Trust’s Community Sports Hub in Kennington, London, the duke stepped into a boxing gym to watch former heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua coaching youngsters alongside flyweight fighter and double Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams. He told his audience: “You can always separate the people who have had sport in their lives from a very young age compared to the people that haven’t.

Prince Harry and Anthony Joshua attend the launch of Made By Sport

“I don’t have a problem with saying that as set of core values, if you don’t have sport in your life then it will be a very isolated journey. “We have a responsibility in this campaign to ensure places that are being shut down are not being shut down and that people from all walks of society and every corner of this country are actually given the opportunity to shine, to flourish. “This is about community, this is about providing opportunity to young people all over the place to actually be part of something, something they might not be getting at home, within their own community.” The duke said the sport allowed participants to “get out the anger and aggression which everybody has”, and Joshua added: “All you need is a T-shirt and some gloves.”


Adams said afterwards:  “Harry has boxed a bit before. He said he had been boxing before. “I’d love to see boxing gets back into schools more.” “There’s a real bond in boxing. A lot of kids who are drawn to it are trying to get away from a troubled life.” “Boxing is a safe environment where they can do that in a safe environment. Boxing has done the world for me, I’ve travelled the world, I’ve been awarded an MBE and an OBE and become double Olympic champion.

“I think Harry really understands the power of what it can do for kids.”


Harry and Meghan to ‘split’ from charity foundation shared with Cambridges

Princes William and Harry and their wives are to work together on ‘one off’ charitable projects, amid mounting specu-lation the Sussexes are to split from the foundation the couples set up together. In a sign of a further distancing between the two royal households Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are set to work on their own separate projects, while occasionally coming together for shared initiatives. It comes after it was announced the two households of the Sussexes and Cambridges are to be run separately, following Prince Harry and Meghan’s move of their family home from Kensington Palace to Windsor. The separation of the two households led to a review of the way the Royal Foundation, launched in 2009, operates, with an announcement expected later this month [June].

But palace sources have indicated that both couples are set to go their own way when pursuing their philanthropic and social activism interests. A source said: “They are all excited about what the future holds for what they can achieve with their charitable activity. “But they are also looking forward to working together on big one off projects such as mental health issues.” When the Royal Foundation charity was set up by Prince William and Prince Harry in 2009 it was heralded as a sign of the close emotional and working relationship between the two brothers.

With their two wives coming on board over the following years the foundation became one of the most glamorous organisations in the charitable sector. Last year ‘the Fab Four’, as they were known to their fans, attended a Q&A forum about their work under the slogan Making A Difference Together. During the session Tina Daheley, the host, asked if they ever had disagreements. William replied “Oh yes”. When she Daheley asked how they resolved their last disagreement, the princes responded: “Is it resolved? We don’t know!” Prince Harry added: “It’s really good we’ve got four different personalities and we’ve all got that same passion to want to make a difference. Those different opinions work really well.” But it is now understood that the two royal couples have different ideas about what causes to focus on and how to pursue them, with one source telling The Sun: “Meghan and Harry want to do things differently to William and Kate.” A board meeting on June 19 is expected to confirm that the Royal Foundation members will split.

Its work revolves around six main themes of mental health, wildlife conservation, young people and the welfare of the armed forces and their families. A spokesman for the foundation said: “The work to prepare both couples for their future roles will of course have implications for how they manage their charitable and philanthropic activity into the future. “We are not going to prejudge the outcome of the review, but we will be able to announce it publicly once all aspects are concluded.” The spokesman added: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are committed to the work they are carrying out through The Royal Foundation and are proud of what they have achieved together.”


Monthly report: May 2019

Figures as per 31 May 2019

  • 367.536 kW  produced;
  • € 67.76 earned;
  • 142.76 Kg CO2 emission saved;
  • equals 0.47 trees planted; total 1.85 trees.


“The gardens in the Netherlands remain fascinating for me”

Walking in a Dutch neighborhood, I can always see directly who the house belongs to. Grass, trees and flowers? A Dutch family. Stones, pebbles, weeds and a chair in the front garden? A foreign family. Last week I got a new local resident. The former people were already gone, the new ones just moved in. All pebbles were taken from the front garden, so I was expecting a Dutch family. Until I saw a truck in the distance bringing a new load of stones. I walked past the house and saw a man standing in the doorway. He stood the other way around, so I only saw his back. Convinced by the truck with pebbles, I said: “Salaam aleikum.” The man turned, “Hey, Salaam Aleikum!” He greeted kindly. My suspicion was confirmed.

The gardens in the Netherlands remain fascinating for me. You only use the front to show how beautiful your garden is. At the back you lock yourself up, to spend time with your family or friends unseen. That is why I like walking in the Klarendal district of Arnheim in the summer. Everything has been turned around. There are flowers in the back garden, and people sit together in the front garden. As I know it from my home country. I love the social life on the street, the conversations with the neighbors and the summer evenings in front of your house. Locked up in the backyard of my house, I feel alone. In Klarendal many benches have been put on the pedestrian walkways by the municipality. I wish that for all neighborhoods. Not just a neat sidewalk and beautiful communal flower boxes, but benches and chairs on the street so that locals meet. If everyone is having a good time together, it seems to me that there is nothing left to be desired for a municipality as well.

Be economical

Every country has its own way of being economical. I learn from Dutch people that you have to look at clothes and electronics in the city, and then compare prices at home on the internet. Then order from the cheapest provider. “But what about the shipping costs?” I said. The Dutch apparently bypass this by ordering so much that the shipping costs are free, and then the products that you do not need are returned for free. You just have to come up with it.

In Syria, we always want to be cheap, so negotiating is common. Men look for clothes in the city, but then take their mother or wife with them for a purchase. We all know as men: women never get tired of whining. An additional advantage is that a male salesman cannot send a woman away, so he has to listen to her whining. “The seams are not stitched properly, the fabric is weak and has a musty odor.”

My father and I gladly took my mother to get the cheapest clothes, but at the same time we were ashamed. “Ma, now it’s enough,” I whispered. ,,Anwar, don’t worry about it. That man only paid ten pounds for this piece of fabric, and I won’t pay 75 for it.” My father, too, began to feel increasingly uncomfortable the longer it takes. He often stood up for the seller. “He also has to pay his rent and electricity,” he said. But no, my mother persisted until she got her way.

In the Arab neighborhood supermarket where I do my shopping in Arnhem, I saw a Syrian woman trying the same. “We are in the Netherlands,” said the Turkish man behind the counter. His smile betrayed that the scene reminded him of his homeland. “Only for this time then.”

Will the mayor come and take a look to estimate what the street will look like without a pear tree?

I recently helped a good acquaintance with pruning. In his front garden there is a huge pear tree that gets so many leaves and pears that it gets dark throughout the house. When we stood on the ladder to thin out the tree, I asked him why he didn’t cut down the whole tree. Then we no longer have pears, he said, and that is not allowed by the municipality. Apparently you have to apply for a permit in the Netherlands to cut down a tree in your own garden. I wonder how that goes. Will the mayor come and take a look to estimate what the street will look like without a pear tree? There seem to be even more rules about nature. In some areas, for example, you must be quiet, and you must not smoke or feed animals. You have to keep your garden tidy, your plants should not cause nuisance to the neighbors and if you throw something away in nature you will be fined. I even heard that for some crimes as a punishment by the State Forest Maintenance Institution or the municipality you have to help keep nature beautiful.

The advantage is that nature in the Netherlands always looks great. Especially in the cities. The grass on the roadside is mowed, flower beds get water and in the fall someone with a large leaf blower comes along. Hedges are carefully pruned to the centimeter and even new fields of flowers are sown.

Sometimes I feel ashamed when I see my own front yard. I’m not that good with plants and the only thing that grows well is the weeds. As soon as spring starts, I will remove it all before it will grow so high that I have to invite the mayor to come and see if it is allowed.

“Do you want a cucumber on your son’s face?” The pregnant woman says threateningly

Pregnancy is a normal period for a Dutch woman. She is working, she does the groceries, runs around with children, drives a car or is at the gym. Rarely do I see a helpful man in the neighborhood who supports her in carrying the child.
Syrian men fear the pregnant woman. Extra attention and pampering are needed for nine months. Every effort must be made to relieve the carrying woman. “I am so excited about mango” is a great comment in the summer. But pregnant Syrian women also dare to ask for ice, watermelon or almonds in the winter. “It’s your son asking for this, not me,” she will say. There are only seasonal products in Syria. There is no ice in the winter, or tropical fruit. Yet an expectant father will have to wander city after city in search of a shopkeeper with frozen fruit, vegetables or ice cream.

Why? Because Syrians believe that if the husband does not make it, a stain will appear on the child’s face in the form of the unfulfilled message. “Do you want a cucumber on your son’s face?” The pregnant woman says threateningly. People with spots on their face or body are asked throughout their lives: what did your father refuse to buy during pregnancy? Are pregnant women spoiled and do they think their unborn child needs an ice cream, a strawberry or pomegranate? Or has science really demonstrated that the sudden need for a certain product comes from the baby? Somehow the man feels that he is being fooled. But then he imagines his future child, with a spot on the forehead in the shape of a cucumber.

Just go to the store anyway.