Prince Harry meets Angolan landmine victim who stole Diana's heart 22 years ago

28 September 2019, 01:14

Prince Harry has met a landmine victim who brought his mother to tears 22 years ago
Prince Harry has met a landmine victim who brought his mother to tears 22 years ago. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A landmine victim who brought Diana to tears during their meeting 22 years ago has told the Duke of Sussex she named her daughter after his late mother.

Sandra Thijika, was famously pictured sitting on Diana's knee, during the Princess of Wales' trip to Angola in 1997.

Ms Thijika met Prince Harry for the first time today, and described the encounter as a continuation of a long and beautiful story.

The princess had not only walked through a partially cleared minefield in Angola to raise awareness about the issue of the weapons, but spent time with people maimed by the munitions laid during a bloody civil war.

Speaking about Angola's £48 million pledge to invest in the work of the landmine clearing charity Halo Trust in the country, the duke told Ms Thijika: "I know you will never get your leg back, but I hope with the president's contribution...you will have some peace of mind."

The mother told the duke she had five children, and the royal seemed taken aback and asked for their ages and she told him, speaking through an interpreter: "I have a daughter I named her after Diana."

Sandra Thijika told Prince Harry she has named her daughter after his late mother
Sandra Thijika told Prince Harry she has named her daughter after his late mother. Picture: PA
Princess Diana met Sandra Thijika in 1997
Princess Diana met Sandra Thijika in 1997. Picture: Getty

Harry told her: "Your children will be growing up to your age and there won't be any landmines."

In response to Harry's pledge, the 38-year-old said: "I'm very happy to hear him say that, it feels like the work in Angola will continue and we will be landmine free."

Speaking about her encounter with the Harry's mother, Ms Thijika said: "I think I met Princess Diana on a Tuesday, she came to the centre and she wanted to see how a change of prosthetic limb was done.

"At that time I was very small, I was a very tiny girl and they started measuring my knee so they could see how the prosthetic would fit.

"Princess Diana was watching this process and she started crying as she watched me getting measured for a new prosthetic.

"After they measured my knee we went outside and we sat by a fig tree and she was speaking to me and I felt very happy, I felt very complete to have the attention of a princess.

"It was an honour to be sitting next to a princess."

Prince Harry is currently in Africa on a royal tour
Prince Harry is currently in Africa on a royal tour. Picture: PA

Ms Thijika was a special guest at a reception hosted by Jessica Hand, Britain's Ambassador to Angola, at her official residence in Luanda.

She said about meeting Harry: "This is a long story and this is a beautiful story because I've come out of the province to meet Diana's son, so this is putting the focus on all of us who have physical disabilities.

"So it's good for Angola that the world can see we need help that we need help and much can be done for us."

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