Prince Harry, Meghan Markle arrive in Botswana for birthday vacation

The prince has often spoken of his love for Africa.

ByABC News
August 5, 2017, 9:12 PM

— -- Prince Harry has whisked Meghan Markle off to Botswana for a romantic 36th birthday vacation. The two were photographed on the tarmac Friday by The Sun Newspaper as they landed.

The prince has spoken often of the tranquility he enjoys in the African bush and he has reportedly decided to share that with his American girlfriend in Botswana, which holds special significance to Harry.

He's described it as a place where he feels at one with nature and where he has friends and contacts to shield him from the paparazzi who stalk his every move. He can move freely in Botswana and enjoy the special birthday celebration with Markle with some level of security that he won't be chased.

"I've been lucky enough to visit Botswana for more than 20 years and am incredibly fortunate to be able to call it my second home," Harry said in January on a trip to tag rhinos for the charity Rhino Conservation Botswana

Earlier this year he shared that Botswana will always have sentimental value to him, saying, "I first came in 1997, straight after my mum died. My dad told my brother and me we were going to Africa to get away from it all."

"This is where I feel more like myself than anywhere else in the world," he said. "I have this intense sense of complete relaxation and normality here."

In 2013, Harry brought his then-girlfriend Cressida Bonas for a safari holiday in the Okavanga Delta, which also prompted engagement speculation. He vacationed in Botswana with first love Chelsy Davy, a Zimbabwean born lawyer, on numerous occasions. Harry and Davy, who were widely tipped to marry, spent much of their relationship enjoying the spectacular natural sights and the privacy it offered them.

In the summer of 2015, after he left his job as an Apache pilot, Harry spent several months in Africa on a mission to draw attention to the senseless slaughter of elephants and rhinos because of the lucrative poaching trade.

"My love of Africa has never been any secret. It's just been a huge part of my private life," the prince said during the 2015 visit.

In 2010, Harry and his brother, Prince William, did their first joint royal tour overseas in Botswana, South Africa and Lesotho, where Harry started his AIDS charity Sentebale in honor of his mother, Princess Diana.

"I've always wanted to keep it like that until I had the experience of age to give something back to a place that has given me and so many others the freedom and space we all crave," Harry said. "This continent has given me thousands of happy memories since 1997, and for that I am indebted to it."

In 2016, Harry said he hoped to share Africa one day with his children.

"I have this love of Africa that will never disappear. And I hope it carries on with my children as well," he said.

William proposed to Kate atop Mount Kenya.

Earlier this year British newspapers reported that Harry was seen visiting Queen Elizabeth's jeweler Harry Collins and was designing an emerald and diamond engagement ring from a bracelet of Diana's that she often wore with her iconic emerald choker.

All eyes are now on Harry and his American girlfriend and whether she will return from the romantic 36th birthday getaway with a ring on her finger.

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