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The Moments That Made Diana The People's Princess

Updated January 10, 2020 18.1k views12 items

Diana, Princess of Wales, was not just royalty - she was the People’s Princess. She committed herself to humanitarian efforts across the globe. She took to the streets to mingle with the masses and connected with them in a very special way. For this, she was loved like no other royal in modern history. 

Diana rejected snobbery and replaced it with compassion for all people, especially the unfortunate. 

She changed perceptions in the middle of the AIDS hysteria and bravely reached out to those with terrible diseases, such as leprosy. She fearlessly walked the minefields of Africa and played an important role in the United Nations Mine Ban Treaty, in which 164 countries banned land mines. 

Princess Diana the humanitarian connected with the hearts and minds of the people, lovingly leaving her mark on history.

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  • She Shook The Hand Of An AIDS Patient 

    Video: YouTube

    In 1987, when AIDS hysteria was in full swing, Princess Diana shook the hand of an AIDS patient. She had a passion for ridding the world of AIDS stigma at a time when people believed they could contract the virus from casual contact, such as a handshake.

    Diana dispelled this myth when she reached out with a compassionate hand to an AIDS patient, and when she stated in a speech at the Children and AIDS Conference in April 1991, "HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug."

  • She Mingled With Crowds In Northern Ireland

    In 1985, Diana visited Northern Ireland for the first time. Even though violent incidents were common at the time, fear did not deter Diana from reaching out to the people of Ireland. In later visits, she stopped by hospitals and schools, and met other people along the way.

    The threat was so intense that thousands of policemen guarded her during her five-hour surprise visit in 1985. She did not hide from the threat, however, mingling with outdoor crowds four times in the five-hour visit. The police were reportedly nervous, blocking off roads, placing marksmen on rooftops, and employing helicopters in efforts to ward off any actions by the Irish Republican Army. 

  • She Opened The UK’s First HIV/AIDS Unit

    Nearly everyone in the 1980s was absolutely terrified of contracting AIDS, but not Diana. She famously shook the hand of an AIDS patient - without wearing gloves - in 1987, marking a shift in public awareness and AIDS acceptance.

    The same year, Diana opened the UK's first purpose-built AIDS unit, which was dedicated to the exclusive treatment of AIDS and HIV patients at London Middlesex Hospital. Diana worked diligently to change the perception of AIDS in the 1980s.

  • She Hugged A Child With AIDS, Despite Intense Social Stigma 

    In February of 1989, Princess Diana visited Harlem Hospital in New York City. Patients and staff cheered as she arrived and then made her way to the pediatric unit, where nurses lined the hallway, holding out their hands to be touched as Diana walked by.

    A 7-year-old patient caught Diana's attention. She walked up to the boy, who had AIDS. Diana bent down, picked him up, and hugged him. She held him close as the hospital staff and press looked on.

    Diana had already worked to dispel myths in Britain about how people contracted AIDS, but her loving gesture was the first time in America anyone had tackled the truths surrounding AIDS in such a public way.

    A hospital staff member approached Diana, embraced her, and said, "Princess Di, thank you for bringing love and youth and vitality to Harlem."