Chris Jackson/Getty; Georges De Keerle/Getty Prince Harry and Princess Diana
His journey from schoolboy to Army officer and champion of the charity trail blazed by his mother is chronicled in the latest issue of PEOPLE Royals.
Six years ago, Harry told PEOPLE, "There's other times when I think, 'All I want to do is make my mother incredibly proud.' That's all I've ever wanted to do."
Since then, Harry — at 37, he's one year older than his mother was when she died in Paris on August 31, 1997 — has seen his life change irrevocably. He and wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (who he married in 2018) and their two children Archie, 3, and Lilibet, 1, have settled in Montecito, California.
One thing that hasn't changed? His connection with those in need.
"He has that joie de vivre, and that connecting touch," biographer Ingrid Seward, who knew his mother Diana well, says of Harry's talent for hands-on public duty.
That is never more apparent than when he visits with the WellChild charity that helps ill children and their family and caregivers. Harry "has patience more than anything else. The most important skill is to listen and understand and he does that really, really well," former CEO of the charity Colin Dyer has told PEOPLE.
Samir Hussein/WireImage Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attending the Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen's Jubilee on June 3.
And he has a magnetic appeal in widening the publicity for both banning landmines and helping those maimed by the weapons. "He's stepping into the void" left by Diana, says activist Ken Rutherford. Adds the U.S. executive director of mine-clearing charity HALO Trust, Chris Whatley: "There's no comparison to the public attention" generated by Harry such as when he visited Angola in 2019.
Ian Vogler/Getty Image Prince Harry with Justina Cesar
Harry, of course, is not alone in following in his mother's footsteps. On Monday, his brother William, 40, explained how he is also tackling the ongoing issue of homelessness that Diana introduced to both of her sons. One day, William said, he will introduce his own children to the cause too.
For Harry, the work will continue for decades ahead. "I don't do things because I fell as though my mother would want me to do them," he told PEOPLE in 2016. "Weirdly, if there's an overlap — which most of the time there is — then that's fantastic. I know I've got a lot of my mother in me."