The Queen of Hearts for a Reason
Today, marks what would have been the 58th birthday of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Despite her tragic death 22 years ago, her legacy still lives on.
During her time as a member of the British royal family, Diana dubbed ‘the people’s princess’ for being emphatic and expressive, utilised her public persona for the greater good of society by drawing attention to noble causes which were often overlooked. In fact, she once famously said, “If I’m going to have cameras pointed at me the whole time, I might as well use all this publicity for good.”
From leprosy to AIDS, here are 5 noble causes close to the heart of ‘The People’s Princess’.
When news regarding the virus first spread in April 1987, Diana was invited to the launch of Britain’s first exclusive ward in London Middlesex Hospital. The unit was created for the sole purpose of treating AIDS patients.
However, the highlight of her visit was the famous image of her shaking hands with an AIDS patient without wearing her gloves. This was a bold move at that time as it debunked the popular misconception on the transmission of the HIV virus.
Speaking to the cameras, Diana said, “HIV does not make people dangerous to know. You can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it.”
In the following years, she visited sick children and patients in hospitals, including a hostel for abandoned children in Rio de Janeiro and a hospice in Toronto.
The late Diana, Princess of Wales was also focused on removing the stigma surrounding leprosy. She made countless visits to countries with high leprosy rates and visited patients in various hospitals to raise awareness about the disease, namely, that it cannot spread by touch.
“It has always been my concern to touch people with leprosy, trying to show in a simple action that they are not reviled, nor are we repulsed.”
Diana became famous as a strong advocate against landmines. She was so passionate about the cause that she visited an active minefield in Angola to learn how de-miners clear away explosives. Putting her life at risk, this move gained the attention of the world at large on the destructive nature of landmines.
122 government representatives gathered in Ottawa after Diana’s trip and agreed upon the ban of anti-personnel landmines. Her contribution was also acknowledged by Robin Cook, Former British Foreign Secretary, when he cited her efforts in the second reading of the Landmines Bill in 1998.
Her efforts in advocating against landmines has become a legacy carried on by her son, Prince Harry. He is currently the patron of leading landmine charity, The HALO Trust. The organisation aims to make the world weapon free by the year 2025.
4. Homeless charities
Diana frequented the charity centre, Centrepoint up until her death in 1997. Despite her royal upbringing, she had no struggles communicating with the homeless and forsaken.
In fact, she has interacted with some rough sleepers on the streets. Both William and Harry would often join their mother on her visits to homeless charities.
Prince William vividly remembers these visits as it had a long-lasting effect on him. “My mother introduced that sort of area to me a long time ago. It was a real eye-opener and I am very glad she did. It has been something I have held close to me for a long time.”
5. Performing arts
As an avid dancer herself, Diana dedicated her time in The English National Ballet, the only non-humanitarian charity organisation she focused her efforts in. She often graced her presence at extravagant functions like fundraising galas in aid of the organisation.
*Featured image sourced from Getty Images