Princess Diana at 50

Diana with an AIDS patient in 1987

Today would have been Diana’s 50th birthday.  I can think of no better tribute than remembering her accomplishments, and not speculating what she would have been like had she lived (I am looking at you Newsweek).  Whether you like Diana or not, it is hard to ignore what she was able to accomplish with her star power.

A few weeks ago, CNN had a feature on their website about the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  While the article gave a short history of the disease, it left out one important detail that I will fill in.  AIDS was (and in many cases still is) a misunderstood disease.  There is a certain stigma placed upon those carrying it.  This was especially true in the 1980s when AIDS victims were separated from society.  That all began to change when Princess Diana began to visit AIDS victims in the mid-1980s.  She was the first high profile figure to list HIV/AIDS charities among her patron charities.  As if that was not enough, she was photographed with AIDS victims, touching and hugging them.  About this Diana said, “HIV does not make people dangerous to know. You can shake their hands and give them hug heaven knows they need it.”

Sadly, the drama of her personal life overshadows the good she did. Her work is being carried on by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, by her sons, Princes William and Harry, and by the countless charities she supported.  Today, of all days, I like to remember Diana the activist, a person the world could certainly use today.


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