Diana’s legacy lives on in William and Harry

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The legacy of Diana, Princess of Wales lives on in her sons through their work championing causes close to her heart, like her support for the homeless, Aids victims and banning landmines.

Whether visiting rough sleepers at a hostel, spending time with those dying of Aids or calling on world leaders to act on landmines, Diana put her compassion and beliefs before her position and influenced her sons in the process.

The princess was the first member of the royal family to have contact with a person suffering from HIV/Aids.

The Princess of Wales
The Princess of Wales shaking hands with William Drake, a patient at the London Lighthouse Aids Centre (PA)

Both publicly and privately she supported the work of those helping patients, with late-night trips to east London’s Mildmay HIV hospice, and serving as patron of the National Aids Trust.

Just months before she died in a car crash in 1997, Diana, wearing a protective visor and vest, walked through an Angolan mine field being cleared by the Halo Trust.

She spoke out against the sale and use of landmines and famously called for an international ban on them during her trip, which led to the then junior defence minister Earl Howe calling her “ill-informed” and a “loose cannon that her majesty’s government did not need”.

Diana took her sons, now the Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex, to meet the homeless when they were boys in the mid 1990s, visiting a charity called The Passage.

]Diana with her sons who have publicly kept her memory alive. Martin Keene/PA Wire
Diana with her sons, who have publicly kept her memory alive (Martin Keene/PA)

The duke slept rough in 2009, bedding down in sleeping bags next to a group of wheelie bins around Blackfriars Bridge in London, in a public awareness event organised by Centrepoint.

His brother Harry has taken on the cause of supporting those with HIV/Aids through his Africa based charity Sentebale, and by publicly having tests for the virus – including with pop superstar Rihanna in 2016.

Speaking about Diana’s efforts to change attitudes towards Aids, Harry said: “Tackling stigma was something my mother was dedicated to. Much progress was made, but years later we’re still so far from seeing HIV in the same way as any other health condition.”

Harry made an “emotional” pilgrimage to Angola in 2019 and retraced his mother’s steps to again highlight the issue of landmines.

He put on body armour and a protective mask just as she had done and watched a de-mining team at work, and in a speech later that day said her memory remains with him “daily” and her “legacy” lived on.

The statue being erected in her honour will be a symbol of the woman whose influence lives on for many and a permanent reminder of her achievements.

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