The charity work of Princess Diana, the People's princess, is very well known. The charity work that she has done has become her legacy and continues on through both of her sons. Prince William and Prince Harry continue to give of themselves, just as their mother did for so many years.
The Focus of the Charity Work of Princess Diana
Diana is noted for two major contributions to humanitarianism, although during her lifetime she was President or Patron of over 100 charities. However, her work with land mines and her work on behalf of AIDS patients were forever noted in telling photographs and consequently, her efforts in these two areas of humanitarianism are most well known.
AIDS Charity Work
Despite having donated financially, perhaps Diana's biggest contribution to AIDS charity work was her public persona. In 1987 there was still a lack of widespread education on how AIDS was contracted and many people believed that AIDS was contagious through casual contact. Diana however, was one of the first celebrities photographed touching and holding HIV/AIDS patients and many experts credit her with removing the stigma associated with AIDS.
In addition to her many visits to African AIDS patients, the charity work of Princess Diana also supported the work of the National Aids Trust which seeks to education, promote research and in other ways positively influence the fight against AIDS. By supporting the causes of AIDS, she is credited as beginning the public conversation about AIDS as an epidemic.
On January 15, 1997, the Princess of Wales earned public criticism and praise as the world saw pictures and video of the Princess touring land mine fields in flack jacket and helmet. Her crusading with the International Red Cross and Crescent movement frustrated government officials but helped put International pressure to pass a ban on the use of land mines. Her concern over the use of land mines was largely for those they injured--particularly children and others after the conflict was over.
Centrepoint is an organization that helps homeless youth and teens by getting them off the streets. They provide temporary shelter, referrals to professional services, help in getting education, job placement and counseling. While Princess Diana may have championed this local cause, it's Prince William who now carries on her legacy by volunteering his time and money to support this organization.
The English National Ballet
Princess Diana was an avid fan of the arts and was known for her generosity in supporting the English National Ballet.
The Leprosy Mission
Consistent in Princess Diana's visual compassion for those children who were afflicted and hurting, Diana became a patron of The Leprosy Mission, an organization dedicated to providing medicine, treatment, and other support services to those who are afflicted with the disease.
The Royal Marsden Hospital
The Royal Marsden Hospital is an English hospital known for treating childhood cancers. In 2004, the Royal Marsden became an NHS (National Health Service) Trust, a status that has launched the hospital into better financial security. When Diana was alive, she was a patron of this mission, often being photographed holding and visiting the littlest cancer patients.
The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children
In England, parents of children with rare and complicated diseases and injuries know the doctors and staff at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children as miracle workers. Taking on some of the most difficult and complicated cases, this hospital has been home to ground breaking surgeries. Consistent with Diana's personal mission to reach out to suffering children, she was a patron of the hospital.
In looking back at Diana's legacy, you can see very consistent themes in her causes. She was described as compassionate and was always seen reaching out to those who no one else would visit and touching those who no one else wanted to touch. She was also known as a champion for children who had been forgotten or written off.
With the exception of the ballet, which was simply motivated by her love of the arts, every single one of her charities and humanitarian endeavors was focused particularly on children. She is credited for bringing numerous issues to the forefront of society, including the needs and misplaced social stigma of HIV/AIDS patients. Her legacy lives on in her sons, both of whom have carried on her tradition of humanitarianism. Posthumously, Diana's eldest sister created the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund which seeks to give grants in Diana's honor for work that she was involved in and causes that she held dear.