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Diana with seven-year-old Helena Ussoua, who lost most of her intestines in a landmine blast. Angola. 1997. Tim Graham/Getty Images
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Diana at the Nemazura feeding center, a Red Cross project for refugees in Zimbabwe. 1993. Jayne Fincher/Getty Images
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Diana moved to tears as she cradles a sick child in her arms during her visit to Imran Khan's cancer hospital in Lahore, Pakistan. 1996.Anwar Hussein/WireImage/Getty Images
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Diana helping a patient at Mother Theresa's hospice in Calcutta, India. 1992. Jayne Fincher/Getty Images
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Diana visiting a hostel for abandoned children in Sao Paulo, Brazil, many of them HIV positive or suffering from AIDS. 1991. Tim Graham/Getty Images
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Diana during a visit to the Accord hospice. Date unspecified.Wikimedia Commons
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President Reagan dancing with Princess Diana at a dinner for she and Prince Charles at the White House. 1985.Wikimedia Commons
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Diana, wearing protective body armor and a visor, visits a minefield being cleared by the charity Halo in Huambo. Angola. 1997.Tim Graham/Getty Images
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Diana and Prince Charles after the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York. London. 1986.
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Diana shaking hands with a resident of Casey House, an Aids Hospice in Toronto, Canada. 1991. Tim Graham/Getty Images
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A Royal Family portrait of Diana. 1982.Lord Snowden/Prescott-Pickup & Co. Ltd via Joe Haupt/Flickr
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Diana with children injured by mines at Neves Bendinha orthopedic workshop in Luanda, Angola. 1997. Tim Graham/Getty Images
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Diana shaking hands with a leprosy patient at Sitanala Leprosy Hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia. 1989. Tim Graham/Getty Images
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The royal wedding of Diana and Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. 1981.
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Diana sitting with one of the patients at St. Joseph's Hospice. They shared a chat about the racing pages open in front of him and the bets he was placing. Hackney, England. 1985.Tim Graham/Getty Images
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The royal couple during a visit to Uluru, Australia. 1983.
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Diana speaks with then-first lady Hillary Clinton in the Map Room of the White House. 1997.
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Diana on a royal visit to a newly opened community center in Bristol, England. 1987.
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Diana receiving the international Leonardo Prize in Moscow, Russia. The prize goes to patrons of medicine, sports, and the arts. While there, Diana visited a children’s hospital with a donation of medical equipment. 1995.Wikimedia Commons
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Diana holding an eight-week-old baby named Tamara at the London Lighthouse, a center for people affected by HIV and AIDS. 1996. Jayne Fincher/Getty Images
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Diana and actor John Travolta dance in the entrance hall of the White House. 1985.
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A portrait of the royal couple, Princess Diana and Prince Charles of Wales. Date unspecified. Lord Snowden/Prescott-Pickup & Co. Ltd via Joe Haupt/Flickr
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Diana,at Neves Bendinha, an ICRC Orthopaedic Workshop In Luanda, Angola. 1997. Tim Graham/Getty Images
24 Moving Photos That Capture Princess Diana’s Inspiring Legacy
Born into a life of privilege, prestige, and royal ancestry on July 1, 1961, Diana Spencer was said to be a shy child with artistic inclinations. Appointed Lady Diana following her father’s inheritance of the title Earl of Spencer in 1975, she went off to finishing school in Switzerland before moving to London, where she took a series of low-paying jobs as a hostess, nanny, and cleaner until finding work as a kindergarten teacher. Diana’s love for children made the work rewarding, and she continued there until eventually becoming engaged to Prince Charles of Wales in 1981.
Perhaps best known for this marriage that made her a princess, and as the subject of several royal scandals, Diana’s humanitarian work is what continues to serve the world long after her death in 1997.
As princess, she participated in public appearances at hospitals and schools, and became heavily involved in a variety of charitable efforts, supporting causes ranging from the protection of animals to issues surrounding children, the elderly, homelessness, and addiction.
Diana’s most extensive areas of work were in the areas of HIV/AIDS, landmines, cancer, leprosy, and refugees, many of which fell outside the usual scope of royal concern. In aiding these causes, she was a patron of several organizations, including the British Royal Cross and the Landmine Survivors Network, and was the president of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children from 1989 until her death.
She opened the Landmark Aids Centre in London in 1989, a controversial act at a time when it was still unclear whether the disease could be transmitted through physical contact alone. She famously hugged an AIDS patient while visiting an English hospital, and did the same when visiting a hospital treating persons with leprosy in Indonesia the same year. These documented efforts went a long way in reducing the societal stigmas associated with both conditions.
Immediately after her 1996 divorce from Prince Charles, Diana resigned from her duties at more than 100 charities in order to devote her time to six, which included Centrepoint, an organization that provides support and accommodation to the homeless, The Leprosy Mission, and National AIDS Trust. Eventually, Diana focused her efforts toward the issues of mental health, having struggled with depression and bulimia herself for many years.
Her death in 1997, the result of a car accident in Paris, was publicly mourned the world-over, leaving millions to grieve over the loss of a woman so determined to use her privilege and power for good through selfless acts that went beyond the responsibilities bestowed upon her as princess.
See some of the most incredible Princess Diana pictures in the gallery above.