A true icon, Princess Diana has remained in the hearts and thoughts of people all over the world. She might have been catapulted to fame by association to the royal family but it was more through her humanitarian efforts that she was known for. The late Princess touched countless lives and it was truly her acts of kindness that cemented her legacy.
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”
1. She was instrumental in changing the public's perception of HIV/AIDS.
At a time when HIV/AIDS was misunderstood, Diana chose to shake hands and even went as far as hugging HIV-positive patients. She famously said, "HIV does not make people dangerous to know. You can shake their hands and give them a hug, heaven knows they need it."
Princess Diana visiting a hostel for abandoned children in Sao Paulo, Brazil: many of them HIV-positive or suffering from AIDS.
Margaret Jay, former Head of the National AIDS Trust, recalls Princess' visits. "She used to come to Scotland; where there was an enormous problem with AIDS and HIV-related to drugs misuse, and she was very good at talking, particularly to young women. I have a mental picture of her kind of sitting on the floor, drinking Nescafé out of mugs and chatting to them about the sort of concerns that they had in their lives. They didn't feel in any sense, that this was some figure from a completely different planet who was talking to them, or patronizing them in any way."
2. She famously brought attention to Angola's landmines.
As a volunteer for the International Red Cross, Diana wanted to give attention to those physically wounded by land mines. In 1997, the Princess traveled to The HALO Trust's Angola outposts with BBC1 to shed light on the subject. There, she visited a prosthesis clinic in Huambo and walked the streets of Kuito, meeting the victims of land mines and discussed the shortage of prostheses.
Diana wearing protective body armour and a visor visits a landmine minefield being cleared by the charity Halo in Huambo, Angola.
During the humanitarian trip, she said, "I have all this media interest, so let's take it somewhere where they can be positive and raise a situation which is distressing, like this."
3. She broke royal protocol to be the "People's Princess".
The Princess valued a little thing called human contact. Breaking royal protocol, she completely abandoned the wearing of gloves because she was fond of holding the hands of people she visited in hospices and valued direct contact with people she met during public engagements. The Princess also concluded that hats were against her cause, explaining, "You can't cuddle a child in a hat."
4. She worked with organizations to help homeless youth.
In 1984, the Princess became President of Barnardo’s, a British charity which gives children and young people the chance to transform their lives and fulfill their full potential. Even after her divorce, Diana remained a patron of Centrepoint, an organization working with the homeless. She made active visits to London's homeless centers in support of the youth.
5. She was a true supporter of the sick.
Similar to her work with HIV and AIDS, Diana was also a patron for leprosy awareness. Working with The Leprosy Mission, she would travel to countries with a high rate of leprosy and through her simple actions communicated that they aren't repulsive or reviled.
6. She visited the afflicted in hospices worldwide.
Discussing her work with the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, the Princess once said, "I make the trips at least three times a week, and spend up to four hours at a time with patients holding their hands and talking to them. Some of them will live and some will die, but they all need to be loved while they are here. I try to be there for them."
7. She continues to make an impact.
Diana's work has influenced countless others to make a difference in the world. Even after her death, Diana continued to help improve the lives through her legacy, The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. The Fund was closed in 2012 but donations can still be made through The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund Committee
Left to right: The Hon. Rosa Monckton, Diana Louise Jordan, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Jane Tewson, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, Lord Attenborough (obscured) Dame Chalker of Wallasey, former butler Paul Burrell, and Earl Spencer and Lord Chamberlain outside 11 Downing Street where the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund Committee met to discuss how to commemorate the life and work of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Diana's fund focused on helping the disadvantaged through its many initiatives: The Palliative Care Initiative provided medical and nursing care; The Refugee and Asylum Seekers Initiative supported the refugees and people seeking asylum; and The Partnership Initiative developed campaigns against cluster bombs and providing alternative solutions to those in imprisonment.