Prince Harry: Everything we know about the royal's 'second family' and support system

Prince Harry is not as close to the Royal Family as he once was. However, he's often spoken about other people who have been described as his chosen family.

Prince Harry chosen family Botswana second family
© Max Mumby / Getty Images
Prince Harry chosen family Botswana second family

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle left the Royal Family six years ago. Since then, their relationship is famously tense. In fact, Prince Harry paid a visit to his father earlier this year, which only lasted for about an hour in total.

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While Prince Harry's relations with his blood family are currently strained, Prince Harry is said to be close to certain people he calls his 'chosen family'. Here's all we know about them.

A second family in Botswana

Following his mother's sudden and brutal death, Prince Harry went to Botswana to grieve. This is where he is supposed to have met his 'beloved second family', a couple of African documentary makers, Tania 'TJ' Jenkins and Mike Holding.

Prince Harry even publicly thanked them for their help in proofreading his memoir, Spare. Botswana is said to be an extremely symbolic place for the Prince, as he also travelled there with his wife, Meghan Markle, when the couple first started dating. When he proposed to the actress, the engagement ring was made of gemstones taken from Princess Diana's personal collection, and the centre piece was a diamond straight from Botswana.

About Tania Jenkins and Mike Holding

Tania Jenkins and Mike Holding live in Botswana, and they own a documentary production company called AfricScreen, which specialises in wildlife animal documentaries. The company is also responsible for David Attenborough's Planet Earth series, which aired on the BBC. The couple even made an appearance in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Netflix series, entitled Harry & Meghan.

Prince Harry's special bond with Bostwana

According to Express, Prince Harry met the couple when he first visited Botswana as a teenager, following his mother's passing. His goal was to grieve and connect with himself. According to Hello! magazine, he explained:

I came here in 1997 or 1998 straight after my mum died, so it was a nice place to get away from it all.

The Prince feels 'deeply connected' to the country, and he explained he now feels at home whenever he visits. He said:

Fifteen years I’ve been coming here, it’s a sense of escapism – a real sense of purpose… I have some of my closest friends here over the years.

In an interview he gave before he stepped back from the Royal Family, Prince Harry had explained the bonds he shared with some of his friends who live in Botswana. He explained:

Botswana is a country very close to my heart. The fact that I spend more time here than at home worries my father a lot. I’ve got a second family out there. A group of friends that literally brought me up.

Journalist and royal correspondent Katie Nicholl, who wrote Prince Harry's biography in 2018, highlighted the familial bond that Prince Harry shares with Tania Jenkins. She wrote:

Friends say Harry jokingly refers to her as ‘mom’ because she looks out for him when he is in the country.

His special friends in Botswana are not the only ones supporting the Prince.

The Prince's 'second father'

In 2024, Prince Harry was spotted with a man called Mark Dyer during his famous Invictus Games. The two men were seen at St Paul's Cathedral, in London, for a Thanksgiving service for the 10-year anniversary of the Invictus Games. The pair is said to have a close relationship since Prince Harry lost his mother, Princess Diana, in a gruesome car accident in the summer of 1997. According to Royal expert Tom Quinn, Mark Dyer acts as a supportive father figure for the Prince, which he reportedly desperately needs. He told the Mirror:

Knowing his brother and father would boycott the St Paul's service for the Invictus Games, Harry made sure well in advance, that he was not going to be entirely alone.

According to the Mirror, Mark Dyer is a military man who stepped into Prince Harry and Prince William's lives following the death of their mother, while King Charles busied himself with rehabilitating Queen Camilla's image. Tom Quinn writes:

At the service he sat next to Mark Dyer a retired Welsh Guards officer who was a key figure in William and Harry's lives after the death of their mother. Dyer was the only strong male presence in the boys' lives while their father concentrated on his royal duties and on rehabilitating Camilla.

The man acted as a father figure for both boys while they were probably going through the most difficult part of their lives, and he has remained close to Prince Harry especially.

Dyer gets on with both brothers but has a soft spot for Harry who he feels is misunderstood by his family and needs a lot more support than they were ever prepared or able to give.

Just like Lord Mountbatten, Prince Philip's uncle, acted as the example of what a man should be for young Prince Charles, Mark Dyer is seen to have done the same for Prince Harry. Tom Quinn said:

Mark Dyer is to Harry what Lord Mountbatten was to King Charles: a second father. The boys, but especially Harry, loved his strength of character and decisiveness.

At the same time, Tom Quinn believes that Mark Dyer took a calculated risk by choosing to appear at the event with Prince Harry, as the Royal Family might believe he has taken a side in the family feud. He explains:

Dyer is taking a risk filling in for them as William and his father will see Dyer's presence at the event as very publicly taking sides.

Read more:

Who is Tom Quinn? The royal expert who is commenting on Prince Harry's relationship with King Charles

Mark Dyer: Dubbed Prince Harry’s ‘second dad’, who is this royal mentor?

Lord Ivar Mountbatten: The Royal Family's first openly gay member set to appear on The Traitors US

Sources used:

Mirror: EXCLUSIVE:Prince Harry's 'second father Mark Dyer knows Duke needs support he expected from King Charles'

Telegraph: Prince Harry's ‘second family’: friends in Botswana thanked for help with memoir

Express: Harry thanks ‘second family’ and lady who is 'jokingly' referred to as 'mom'

Hello!: ‘Deeply connected to this place’: Why Botswana is so important to Prince Harry

Prince Harry joins forces with royal family to pay homage to Prince Philip Prince Harry joins forces with royal family to pay homage to Prince Philip