Lessons from Diana

Better known as “The People’s Princess” and “Lady Di”, Princess Diana was adored world over. Through her turbulent relationship with Prince Charles, she left a legacy of charity work, contributing to over 100 organizations (before leaving the Royal Family), as well as working for the youth and the homeless, fighting against the stigma surrounding people with HIV and AIDS. and being a style icon (even today).

July 1st marked Princess Diana’s 60th birthday. As always, it was celebrated by the media and people as if she were alive. Typically, the celebration involves an annual vigil outside of Kensington Palace – this year her sons commemorated the occasion with the long-awaited statue of Princess Diana.

The statue aimed at capturing the essence of her humanitarian work and well-known compassion. A statement by the Palace about it read, 

“The statue aims to reflect the warmth, elegance and energy of Diana, Princess of Wales, in addition to her work and the impact she had on so many people.” 

Diana once said, “Hugs can do great amounts of good – especially for children.”

This philosophy helped her prove to the world that HIV and AIDS are not spread by touch. She made a historic move during her first visit to a HIV/AIDS unit in London where she confidently shook hands with a patient who was terminally ill with AIDS – one move that did wonders in destigmatizing people who had HIV/AIDS. In the years that followed, she visited similar units where she even hugged the patients.

The lesson: Although the Princess had a lot of troubles in her private life and with family, she had an unwavering spirit, dedicating herself to helping people everywhere and using her title for people’s causes. This showed me that regardless of the hardships you might face, it is possible to find your strength and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. 

Diana once said Family is the most important thing in the world.”

The Princess would often schedule her day around her children’s schedule so she could spend time with them. She would also drop her children off at school, and hug them excitedly after returning from long trips, even though it was against the Royal Rules. She would often take her kids on “normal” trips – to amusement parks and ski holidays without bodyguards in an effort to keep them grounded. 

source – Princess Diana breaking Royal Rules to participate in Prince Harry’s Sports Day event in 1991.

The lesson: Diana understood when to adhere to the (Royal) Rules and when to break them, in order to give her family her best – an important balance to strike, something we can all learn from. 

Diana once said, “It’s vital that the monarchy keeps in touch with the people. It’s what I try and do.”

She remained brutally honest during her working years in the monarchy, she didn’t shy away from talking to the media about her personal issues – her openness about her struggle with bulimia or her famous statement about her marriage –“there were three people in our marriage so it was kind of crowded”. She wanted to connect with the people. Some say that the reason she was so adored was because she allowed herself to show her flaws and people saw that and identified parts of themselves within her personality. 

Image – Diana in a crowd

The lesson: Her interview regarding her bulimia sent shockwaves through the world as it was uncommon to talk about eating disorders at that time. This action empowered many who were struggling with similar issues. However, this openness with the media sensationalized Diana to such an extent that she became “the most hunted person of the modern age”. The lesson to learn is the importance of protecting your privacy – being an open book backfires, sometimes. 

When she passed away in 1997, the world mourned with the Royal Family, and the Queen’s statement about it holds true to this day, 

“No one who knew Diana will ever forget her. Millions of others who never met her, but felt they knew her, will remember her. I, for one, believe there are lessons to be drawn from her life and from the extraordinary and moving reaction to her death. I share in your determination to cherish her memory.”

-Ananyaa Bhardwaj

SY B.Sc.

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