Princess of Wales: Why was Diana known as ‘the people’s princess’?
August 31 2022 marked the 25th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, the former wife of Prince Charles.
Lady Diana Spencer died in a car accident on August 31, 1997. She was married to the heir of the British throne Prince Charles Windor, son of Queen Elizabeth. her death was sudden and shocking at just 36 years old, leading to an outpouring of grief.
Diana was a very popular member of the Royal Family. Especially for young Britons, Diana was seen as a youthful injection into the stuffy, regimented style of the other royals. People describe a complete state if shock in the country as one of its national treasures passed so soon.
She was also well known for her charitable work. After her divorce from Prince Charles, Diana focused on a small number of charities with more energy. Particularly famous was her land mine walk in Angola in January 1997 to highlight the plight of the weapons that are dangerous years after the guns stop.
Another important move from Diana was her support of AIDs victims. During the 1980s, little was known about the disease or how it was passed. There were unfounded fears it could be passed by physical contact with an infected person, fuelling homophobia in the country.
During the opening of the first purpose build HIV/AIDs unit in the UK in 1987, Diana shook hands with a man suffering with the illness in front of dozens of TV cameras, beating the dangerous superstition. John O’Reilly, a nurse working on the ward at the time, described it as a “very moving moment.”
So what about the “people’s princess?”
Speaking after her death British prime minister Tony Blair had a statement. A section of it has become particularly famous.
“We know how difficult things were for her from time to time,” he said, “I am sure we can only guess that. But people everywhere, not just here in Britain, kept faith with Princess Diana. They liked her, they loved her, they regarded her as one of the people. She was the People’s Princess and that is how she will stay, how she will remain in our hearts and our memories for ever.”