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Prince Harry speaks about mother's death

Prince Harry has spoken of the "gaping hole" in his life following the death of his mother as his charity launched a landmark centre helping African orphans and other vulnerable youngsters.

As Sentebale's STG2 million ($A4.2 million) Mamohato Children's Centre was opened in the African nation of Lesotho, Harry movingly described his own experience of bereavement - something many of the children helped by his organisation are living with.

He said the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, in a 1997 car crash, allowed him to empathise with the young orphans he met during his first visit to Lesotho in 2004.

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The trip inspired him to set up the charity Sentebale with Lesotho's Prince Seeiso to help youngsters in need and other children who had lost one or both parents to AIDS or contracted the disease themselves.

"They were far younger than me, and of course, their situation was a great deal more challenging than my own," Harry said, as he spoke about the orphans to guests gathered at the centre's opening ceremony on Thursday.

"Nonetheless, we shared a similar feeling of loss, having a loved one, in my case a parent, snatched away so suddenly.

"I, like them, knew there would always be a gaping hole that could never be filled.

"For so many of the children in Lesotho, that situation was compounded by the harsh environment and extreme poverty they faced. At the age of just eight or nine, taking on the responsibility of caring for brothers and sisters, there was simply no time for being a child any more."

He added that from that moment "it wasn't a question of when but how quickly could we put something in place which could help these children".

AAP

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