Prince Harry, the Duke of Cambridge’s longtime obsession with the African continent has now morphed into a high position: President of African Parks.
In a statement released on December 27th, Kensington Palace shared and explained the news: “African Parks is a conservation NGO, founded in 2000, that manages national parks and protected areas on behalf of governments and in collaboration with local communities across Africa. With 13 parks under management, they oversee the largest area under conservation for any NGO on the African continent.”
Prince Harry is fast becoming a steady advocate for wildlife conservation and from the statement and the magnitude of the reserve under the NGO’s management, it is clear that this responsibility is one of both personal and professional significance.
Prince Harry & Africa
According to an interview with writer, Klara Glowczewska of Two & Country, Prince Harry has long engaged with the African continent. He discovered and fell in love with Africa when his father took him and William on a safari soon after their mother, Princess Diana, died.
This childhood fascination has morphed into a passion for which the Prince now sets aside four to six weeks every summer. As he explained to Glowczewska, he comes to Africa, “not on safari,” but to spend time with “the most down-to-earth people I know on the planet”. He added, “This is where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world. I wish I could spend more time here….”
Prince Harry, The Royal Family, And Africa
Like other members of the royal family, the Prince’s attachment to the continent is complicated, especially in light of Britain’s historical legacy with slavery, colonization, and imperialism on the continent. This troubled relationship is also seen in the family’s legacy with wildlife on the continent. For one, Queen Elizabeth once shot a rhinoceros on an African safari, and in 2014, pictures leaked of Prince Harry proudly posing with a water buffalo he shot on his gap year in South Africa and perhaps many other cases of the family’s compromising involvement with wildlife hunting.
What Does This All Mean?
Beyond the larger frame of the royal’s work on the continent, it seems like the continent holds personal significance for the family – it has been a place of respite, change, and renewal for the family. Princess Elizabeth found out she was the Queen whilst in Kenya when her father died, Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton in Kenya, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle solidified their relationship in Botswana.
As seen below, it is clear that some people find that the Prince’s leadership in African Parks is paternalistic given that an African face should be used to lead the cause,
How is Prince Harry Appointed African Parks President @Julius_S_Malema So Africa cant run Africa this shit crazy. Bra get his ass out of there asap✊
— Hanksquad (@HankHowardStern) December 27, 2017
Still, if Prince Harry is to hold the position of President of African Parks and do the work he says he cares about, in a place he feels most like himself, and with the most down to earth people on the planet, then he must wrestle with his family’s troubled history with both Africa, wildlife, and hunting, and as well as an Africa that is skeptical of its work precisely because of this history.
This realization is important to the success of what he seeks to accomplish in the role.