Known fondly as the “People’s Princess,” the late Princess Diana occupies the pantheon as one of the most beloved members of the British royal family ever. Thanks to her kind and compassionate nature and outspoken advocacy for humanitarian causes, Diana was heralded as a relatable, empathetic royal who cared deeply about the human condition.
During her time as Princess of Wales, Diana championed AIDS research and stigmatization, and increased awareness around issues such as land mines, leprosy, and cancer. She helped shed light on many previously unbroached topics, from homelessness to mental health, and was awarded the Honorary Freedom of the City of London in 1987 as a result — the highest honor that the City of London could bestow upon an individual. (Fittingly, after her untimely death in 1997, the Diana Award was created in her memory, an honor given to a young person aged 9 to 25 years for their humanitarian work.)
Though it’s been a quarter century now since the princess’ passing, her legacy lives on. Diana’s sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, continue to be engaged with social action within their respective organizations: William’s Royal Foundation tackles projects dealing with conservation, mental health, and early childhood development, while Harry founded the Invictus Games in 2014 as a way to encourage physical and mental recovery for veterans. Below, we’ve rounded up 14 quotes from Princess Diana that speak to her deep-seated belief in the power of care and attention as agents for change.
Nothing brings me more happiness than trying to help the most vulnerable people in society. It is a good and essential part of my life, a kind of destiny.
I lead from the heart, not the head.
Every one of us needs to show how much we care for each other and, in the process, care for ourselves.
Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back.
HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug: Heaven knows they need it.
I am not a political figure, I am a humanitarian figure, always was, always will be.
I’d like to be a queen in people’s hearts, but I don’t see myself being queen of this country.
It’s vital that the monarchy keeps in touch with the people. It’s what I try and do.
I want to walk into a room, be it a hospital for the dying or a hospital for sick children, and feel that I am needed. I want to do, not just to be.
I am a free spirit. Some don’t like that but that’s who I am.
Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.
I knew what my job was; it was to go out and meet the people and love them.
If you find someone you love in life, you must hang onto it, and look after it, and if you were lucky enough to find someone who loved you, then you must protect it.
I want my boys to have an understanding of people’s emotions, their insecurities, people’s distress, and their hopes and dreams.
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