On July 1st, on what would have been Princess Diana’s 60th birthday, the royal family honored the late princess by unveiling her statue. The sculpture highlights both her humanitarian work and her influence on her country. On the cusp of her divorce, she was patron to over 100 charities; by the time the split was final, she’d pared it down to the six she cared about most. Here are the charities that were closest to her heart.
Diana said her charity work was ‘fulfilling’
In the highly-publicized 1995 BBC Panorama Interview with Martin Bashir, Princess Diana asserted that her work meant more to her than romance. “People think that at the end of the day, a man is the only answer,” Diana told Bashir. “Actually, a fulfilling job is better for me.”
The “fulfilling” work she spoke of undoubtedly encompassed her widely praised charity and humanitarian work. Diana also told Bashir that she hoped the monarchy would eventually become more accessible to its people. It’s a sentiment that she took to heart in her humanitarian pursuits. “I would like a monarchy that has more contact with its people,” she said.
She shook hands with AIDS patients during the heightened year of 1987 when confusion about the then-misunderstood disease ran rampant. She made a point of slowing down to have meaningful, impromptu conversations with civilians. And she openly shared her feelings and problems, endearing her to the public while drawing criticism from the royal family.
Princess Diana was a patron of over 100 charities
At the time of the Bashir interview, Diana was the patron of over 100 charities and causes. They ranged from landmine awareness to AIDS advocacy to (tragically enough) child bereavement. One of the final few charities Diana helped launch is called the Child Bereavement U.K. center; Prince William has since taken up the torch and is now a patron for the charity.
By the time Princess Diana approached the finalization of her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996, however, she’d pulled back. The final six charities she was patron for at the time of her death represented the work that had been dearest to her.
They included the Great Ormond Street Hospital, a children’s hospital that counted Queen Victoria among its past patrons; The Royal Marsden Hospital, specializing in cancer treatment and currently counting Prince William and Queen Elizabeth among its patrons; and The Leprosy Mission (England and Wales), an international organization that offers treatment and support to those who live with Leprosy.
Additionally, the former trained dancer was patron for The English National Ballet (also previously supported by Princess Margaret); Centrepoint, a homeless charity for young people (also counting Prince William and niece Kitty Spencer among its supporters); and NAT (National AIDS Trust), an organization that focuses on educating the public about the disease.
Diana’s relatives continue to support some of the charities that were most important to her
While The Leprosy Mission and NAT (National AIDS Trust) remain the two charities that Princess Diana claims as her own, the other four charities have continued to be supported by royal family members. They include Prince Andrew, Princess Margaret, Prince William, and of course, the queen.
So clearly, her legacy endures in exactly the ways she would have hoped.