Prince William echoes Diana as Falklands becomes free of ‘cruel and senseless’ land mines

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The Duke of Cambridge hailed the news that the islands were finally rid of the explosives planted in the 1982 war. The “historic moment” came three years ahead of schedule after around 13,000 land mines were planted during the bloody conflict. Diana famously campaigning against the weapons, and was pictured in Angola in 1992 urging a world wide ban of land mines. William’s brother Prince Harry has also made clear his commitment to land mine advocacy, also walking through the Angola minefield last year in tribute to Diana.

William’s message saw him decry the “cruel and senseless weapons” used in the 1982 conflict with Argentina.

In a video call paying tribute to the last mines removed from Stanley Beach, he said: “I’m very pleased to join you in marking this historic moment as the Falkland Islands are declared mine-free.

“Land mines are cruel and senseless weapons that ruin lives and livelihoods.

“For so many of you, particularly in Stanley, the exclusion tape barring access to nearby beaches has become a sad and perilous fact of life.”

The Prince then discussed his time visiting the region in 2012, when he qualified as a Royal Air Force search and rescue captain, and said he understood the historic achievement in making the area safe at last.

William added: “Having visited the Falklands in 2012 while I was serving with the RAF Search and Rescue, I know how important the effort to clear the islands of mines has been.

“This is therefore a hugely significant moment for the people of the Falklands.

“I hope that by removing for good these scars of the 1982 conflict you are taking another step towards defining yourselves as the modern community-spirited place that you have built in the decade since.”

William then turned his attention on the deminers, and thanked them for all their efforts.

He added: “I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who have helped to achieve this milestone, in particular we all owe a debt of gratitude to the Zimbabwean demining staff, who have worked tirelessly over the years in very difficult and dangerous conditions.”

The Falklands’ were declared land mine free on Saturday, sparking celebrations among locals with a cricket match on a beach blocked off to people since 1982.

SafeLane Global, civilian mine-clearing specialists, have been working alongside Zimbabwean deminers to create 2,338 hectares of safe ground on the islands.

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William’s tribute echoed Diana’s iconic January 1997 land mine walk in Huambo, central Angola.

The Princess of Wales was pictured walking with The HALO Trust through restricted areas in protective armour, and called for a world wide ban on the explosives.

In a letter to the Red Cross after her visit, she said: “If my visit has contributed in any way at all in highlighting this terrible issue, then my deepest wish will have been fulfilled.”

Ralph Legg, program manager of HALO Trust’s Angola operations, added: “Diana’s visit is something that people in Huambo still talk about today.

“For the people that were here at that time, which was obviously still a time of conflict, it led to a feeling of acknowledgement, and that their plight was recognized around the world.”

Harry returned to Huambo last year, 22 years after his mother walked through the land mines, to pay tribute to her cause.

The Duke of Sussex also visited Angola in 2013, and went to a minefield in Mozambique in 2010, to support HALO Trust projects.

After his 2019 walk, retracing Diana’s steps, he said it was “quite emotional” to see the impact the program had on Huambo.

He added: “Without question if she hadn’t campaigned the way that she did, this arguably could still be a minefield.

“I’m incredibly proud of what she’s been able to do, and meet these kids here who were born on this street.”

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