Remembering Princess Diana's Humanitarian Spirit

“Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society. It is a goal and an essential part of my life - a kind of destiny. Whoever is in distress can call on me. I will come running wherever they are.” - Princess Diana

Both at home and abroad, Princess Diana’s passion for humanitarian work positively impacted society and played a very important part of her life. Helping the most vulnerable gave her a sense of purpose and eased the pressures of her royal title and marriage. She was a patroness of over 100 charities and worked with organizations that helped the homeless, youth, drug addicts, and the elderly. Princess Diana also successfully used her high-profile stature to push the causes she championed into the public light.

“The biggest disease this day and age is that of people feeling unloved.” - Princess Diana

Her most notable campaigns strove to reduce social stigmas and misconceptions about serious diseases like leprosy and HIV/AIDS. Despite the odds, Princess Diana actually helped change popular opinions and attitudes by famously touching those afflicted with these diseases. She wanted to prove to the world that neither leprosy or HIV/AIDS can be contracted through casual contact, but most of all, she wanted to show love to people shunned by society.

From 1989 until her death, Princess Diana was a patron of the Leprosy Mission, an international organization dedicated to providing medicine, treatment and other support services to those with the disease.

"HIV does not make people dangerous to know. You can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it. What's more, you can share their homes, their workplaces, and their playgrounds and toys." - Princess Diana

She also opened the Landmark Aids Centre in London and made plans with the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela to to further help victims of AIDS by combining his Nelson Mandela Children's Fund with the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

This wish was brought to fruition posthumously in 2002.

“I’d read the statistics that Angola has the highest percentage of amputees anywhere in the world. That one person in every 333 had lost a limb, most of them through land mine explosions. But that hadn’t prepared me for reality.” - Princess Diana

Princess Diana’s anti-landmine campaign was influential in the signing of the Ottawa Treaty, which eliminated the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines and ordered their destruction all over the world. She traveled to Angola and Bosnia, countries known for having dangerous fields littered with landmines left over from war. People crossing these areas were stepping on unseen mines and losing limbs.

In addition to overseeing the de-mining of affected areas, Princess Diana visited the International Red Cross' prosthetic center at Huambo, Angola, which has fitted several hundred mining victims with artificial limbs and helped them with rehabilitation. There, she met a 13 year old girl who lost her leg while going to get groceries with her mother.

If you haven’t yet listened to our episode on Princess Diana from Remarkable Lives. Tragic Deaths, a Parcast Network podcast series, check it out now on your favorite podcast directory or on www.parcast.com.

Remarkable Lives. Tragic Deaths examines the lives and tragic deaths of people who changed history and influenced pop culture.