Princess Diana planned on doing an anti-landmine tour just a few months before her death
- Princess Diana discussed the proposals following her historic trip to Angola
- She was ‘pleased’ with her trip and wanted similar visits around the world
- Her sons have since taken up the cause with Harry visiting Africa last year
Princess Diana was planning to embark on an anti-landmine tour a few months before her death.
She discussed the proposals following her historic 1997 visit to Angola, where she was seen detonating a mine.
Her sons have since taken up the cause, with Prince Harry going to central Africa to clear mines last year.
Princess Diana was planning to embark on an anti-landmine tour a few months before her death
Files released by the National Archives show the princess was ‘pleased’ with her January trip and discussed similar visits around the world.
Roger Hart, the British ambassador to Angola, wrote in a dispatch to the Foreign Office: ‘The Angolan authorities were delighted that the Princess made the visit.
‘The British Red Cross were pleased and so too was the Princess of Wales.
‘It was the first overseas trip she had undertaken since agreeing to support the mine ban and was talking about following it up with visits to other heavily-mined countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Kuwait.’
Seven months later she died in a car crash in Paris. She had used her status to call for a global ban on landmines and a major treaty followed.
The official documents also show Prince Charles abandoned a planned visit to the Republic of Ireland in the summer of 1996 amid concerns about his personal safety.
She discussed the proposals following her historic 1997 visit to Angola, where she was seen detonating a mine
The IRA had abandoned its ceasefire that February and did not restore it until the following year when talks leading to the Good Friday Agreement began.
Aides originally planned for the Prince of Wales to undertake a three-day visit to the Republic from June 29, just as early talks laying the way for the subsequent Good Friday Agreement got under way in earnest at Stormont.
But secret arrangements for the ‘low-key’ official visit were scuppered when officials either side of the Irish Sea voiced concerns about the trip.
A letter from Foreign Office diplomat Dominick Chilcott to No 10 private secretary John Holmes revealed how Irish authorities had ‘expressed concern about the risks which His Royal Highness would face’ if the visit went ahead without a ceasefire in place, amid renewed tensions between the IRA and Unionists.
The document, released by The National Archives at Kew, also signalled a possible diplomatic faux pas if the Prince used the Royal Yacht Britannia during the visit – a totem which would ‘be unwelcome to parts of the population’, it said.
John Major, the prime minister at the time, indicated he was content for Prince Charles’s visit to Ireland to be postponed
The letter said: ‘We share Irish concerns about security. And the benefits which this visit might bring are limited.
‘The timing, on the eve of the Irish presidency, is not ideal from the Irish point of view.
‘The risks now seem to outweigh any benefits.’
It added: ‘Since there has been no publicity, postponement of the visit now would reduce the risk of being seen to concede to terrorist threats.’
John Major, the prime minister at the time, indicated he was content for the visit to be postponed.
The trip was scheduled a year after the Prince of Wales’s maiden official visit to the Republic in 1995, which was heralded a success despite some protests from Republicans, including those who threw eggs towards the heir to the throne during a walkabout in Dublin.
The visit was deemed so successful that Mr Major subsequently wrote to Irish taoiseach John Bruton, thanking them for inviting the prince.
‘For you and your Government to invite him, and to go out of your way to ensure the success of the visit, was a typically bold step, and you were proved absolutely right,’ Mr Major wrote.
‘You caught the spirit of the times.’
Indeed Veronica Sutherland, the British Ambassador in Dublin, also gave a glowing endorsement of the visit.
‘It takes brilliance to out-charm the Irish,’ she wrote. ‘The Prince of Wales did just that.’
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