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Britain's Prince Harry and his fiancee Meghan Markle attend the UK team trials for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 at the University of Bath in Bath, England, Friday, April 6, 2018. The Invictus Games is the only international sport event for wounded, injured and sick (WIS) servicemen and women, both serving and veteran. The Invictus Games Sydney 2018 will take place from 20-27th October and will see over 500 competitors from 18 nations compete in 11 adaptive sports.
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Citizenship

Harry & Meghan 'Fell in Love' Doing Humanitarian Work in Botswana, Friend Says

We're just days away from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle saying "I do," and it’s already shaping up to be a ceremony fit for Global Citizens.

The wedding gifts are tackling period taboo, homelessness, and HIV; Meghan’s reportedly going to be smashing the patriarchy by making her own speech; and they’ve invited over 1,000 community champions to their big day. 

But now, a friend of Meghan has also revealed that their relationship also has its origins in — you guessed it — humanitarian work. 

Take action: Thank the UK for Helping Millions More People Get Education, Good Nutrition, and Essential Medicines

Just weeks after they started dating back in June 2016, Harry took what he has described as a "huge leap" and invited Meghan to go with him to Botswana, where his humanitarian work is well-established.

“I remember when Meghan told me about Botswana,” said the friend, Janina Gavankar, in an interview with GMA. “I loved how she was …pleasantly surprised. Like, this boy is actually just doing this for real. This is not some flouncy trip. He really means it.”

“They fell in love with nothing around them,” she added. “No frills. No bells and whistles. All they had was each other, doing good work in a place where nobody was watching them. They did that separately. Imagine what they can do together.”

Read more: 6 Things Global Citizens Should Know About Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

The country is reportedly so important to the couple that the stone in Meghan’s engagement ring is also from Botswana (conflict-free, of course). 

Prince Harry’s practically life-long love of Africa has been well-documented. He first visited the continent just weeks after his mother, Princess Diana, died when he was 12. Since then he has made regular trips back to African countries, both for work and pleasure. 

He is patron of animal welfare charity Rhino Conservation Botswana, while Prince William is a patron of the elephant charity Tusk

In fact, Harry spent the days before his trip to Botswana with Meghan in Malawi — helping move hundreds of elephants more than 200 miles to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, according to the BBC, where they would be safe from conflict with humans.

Read more: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle Are Spreading Awareness on World AIDS Day

“I have this sense of complete relaxation and normality [here],” he told Town and Country magazine in a 2017 interview. “To lose myself in the bush … This is where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world. I wish I could spend more time here.” 

In 2006, Prince Harry also set up an organisation called Sentebale, along with Prince Seeiso from the southern African kingdom of Lesotho. The pair set up the organisation, which is dedicated to supporting young people affected by HIV and AIDS, in memory of their mothers, both of whom died when they were young. Both of their mothers had also spent much of their lives working with those affected by the virus. 

“I want to do something really constructive with my life,” Harry said in an ITV documentary in 2016. “I want to do something that makes my mother proud. My mother stood for something. There’s a lot of unfinished business and a lot of work that my mother never completed.” 

Read more: Russell Brand Wants to Help Homeless as a Wedding Gift to Harry & Meghan

Meanwhile, Meghan previously travelled to Rwanda with World Vision Canada in 2016, to support work on a clean water project. 

“Even with Meghan’s crazy schedule as an actor, she’s always made time for philanthropic endeavours,” said Gavankar. “It could be one day helping at a charity event and it could be an entire trip that she’s told nobody about to go help people in India.” 

“One of the things I love about both of them is that they don’t tell anyone,” she said. “They just go do good work in countries with nobody watching.” 

And we’re hoping that the happy couple will encourage more people to get involved in driving positive change. You might not meet a prince, but where’s the harm in trying? 

Read more: Meghan Markle Set to Break This Sexist Tradition at Wedding to Prince Harry

“If you can’t affect politics and change the big things in the world then just do whatever you can do — whether it’s in your local community, your village, your local church — walking down the street, opening a door for an old lady, helping them cross the road,” Harry told ITV.

“Whatever it is, just do good,” he added. “Why wouldn’t you? The good stories are what make people tick everyday, surely?”

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN’s Global Goals. You can join the movement by taking action here to help end extreme poverty by 2030.