Fatherhood has changed Prince Harry’s outlook on conservation. The Duke of Sussex, who was appointed president of African Parks in 2017, penned a letter for the non-governmental organization’s annual report writing about the added pressure he’s felt since welcoming his and Meghan Markle’s 13-month-old son Archie Harrison. “Since becoming a father, I feel the pressure is even greater to ensure we can give our children the future they deserve, a future that hasn’t been taken from them, and a future full of possibility and opportunity,” he wrote. “I want us all to be able to tell our children that yes, we saw this [wildlife extinction] coming, and with the determination and help from an extraordinary group of committed individuals, we did what was needed to restore these essential ecosystems.”
The Duke noted that we are “currently living through an extinction crisis” in addition to a “global pandemic that has shaken us to our core and brought the world to a standstill.” “On this pandemic, while much is still unknown, some evidence suggests that the virus’ origins may be linked to our exploitation of nature,” the dad of one continued. “There are solutions that are actionable and that work, and the African Parks model is one of them.”
Harry praised African Parks for providing “essential services” during difficult times, including the current health crisis. The organization manages national parks and protected areas on behalf of governments across Africa to benefit people and wildlife. “What I see in the African Parks model is exactly what conservation should be about – putting people at the heart of the solution,” he wrote. “Conservation can only be sustained when people living closet to nature are invested in its preservation.”
Africa holds a special place in Harry’s heart. The Duke first visited the continent in 1997 following the death of his mother Princess Diana. “I have always been grateful for what wild places provide. Since my first trip to Africa as a young boy, I knew I would keep returning to this continent if I could, for its wildlife, for its people, and for its vast expanse,” he shared.
Last year, Meghan and Harry carried out a royal tour of Africa with their son. “[Archie] clearly loves Africa as well because he’s been happy looking out the window,” the Duke said on the ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey. “[Archie] found his voice here. He was bouncing up and down and making more noise than he’s ever made before.” Meghan added, “We thought he was happy before. He’s the happiest here.”