The Story Behind Princess Diana’s Friendship With Mother Teresa

Princess Diana had an unlikely friendship with Mother Teresa. Diana is known affectionately as “The People’s Princess” and was known for her advocacy work. Mother Teresa was a nun and a missionary, as well as the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity. She was dedicated to helping the less fortunate and she was canonized as a saint in 2016. On the two times they both met, they each learned from the other. Diana and Mother Teresa cared for helping the poor and less fortunate, which is something they bonded deeply over.

Mother Teresa had a lasting influence on Princess Diana

Princess Diana and Mother Teresa
Diana, Princess of Wales and Mother Teresa | PA Images via Getty Images

Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, said that after the two met, Diana was inspired by Mother Teresa and had a “spiritual awakening.” The Daily Mail reported that after Diana’s death, items were brought to the hospital, including a rosary gifted by Mother Teresa herself. The prayer beads were put in the Princess’ hands and remained there when both her sisters and Princess Charles came to the hospital. A picture of Diana’s sons which she carried around with her wherever she went, was put in her hands as well.

Mother Teresa gave a statement honoring Princess Diana

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa | Tim Graham/Getty Images

After Diana’s tragic death, Mother Teresa gave a statement in honor of the beloved Princess. “Diana was extremely sympathetic to poor people — and very lively, and homely, too. All the sisters and I are praying for her and for all members of her family,” said Mother Teresa.

They only met twice

The friends would only meet twice in their lives, but they died within just days of one another. The pair prayed together, which reportedly was able to give Diana strength to deal with the situation surrounding her separation with Prince Charles.

The first meeting

Princess Diana
Diana, the Princess of Wales touching people of the untouchable class in Hyderabad, India | Jayne Fincher/Getty Images

Mary C. Johnson, a former nun who was present on the day that Princess Diana and Mother Teresa first met, wrote a first-hand account for The Huffington Post about the eventful day that changed their lives forever.

“Mother led Diana into her room, a tiny office/bedroom just off the compound. I waited outside, guarding the door, hoping these two women — so hounded and so admired — might find solace in each other’s company,” said Johnson. “They talked for nearly thirty minutes, longer than I’d ever spent with Mother’s undivided attention, despite having been a sister for fifteen years at that point.”

Princess Diana and Mother Teresa prayed together

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa | Mark Edwards/Keystone Features/Getty Images

Princess Diana and Mother Teresa proceeded to pray together in a nearby chapel on the grounds. The meeting was captured by paparazzi clamoring for a shot of the two together. “When Mother and Diana exited the chapel and slipped on their respective footwear, I directed a chain of nuns to keep the paparazzi out as Diana’s limo drove away,” explained Johnson. “Though the princess left, the press refused to go. The cameramen took turns standing on each other’s shoulders, snapping photos of the empty driveway and begging me to let them in.”

The final meeting

The Princess of Wales and Mother Teresa
The Princess of Wales and Mother Teresa | Anwar Hussein/WireImage

During Diana’s last summer, she visited with Mother Teresa in New York City. They walked the streets of the Bronx and spent a brief 40 minutes together. Mother Teresa was already in a poor state of health, but she took the time to see Diana. Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997, in a car accident in Paris. Mother Teresa would follow her that same year only days apart on September 5, 1997, in India.

Even though they only met twice, both Princess Diana and Mother Teresa had a profound influence on one another. They both were striving throughout their lives to help the less fortunate, and their legacies certainly live on through their charitable good works.