Princess Diana was always someone I admired, but never someone I knew more about than the fact that she was royalty in England. After visiting “Diana: a celebration,” an award-winning traveling exposition showcasing the Princess’ accomplishments throughout her life, I understand why she was so important. When she died in that fateful car crash in August 1997, after an unfortunate divorce from husband Prince Charles and years of ridiculed courtship with Dodi al Fayed (an Egyptian-born heir to the billion-do’llar Harrods fortune), the “Candle in the Wind” was gone, and her legacy became something the world paid attention to – thanks in part to the original song Elton John performed for her funeral (“Candle in the Wind” was originally written for Marilyn Monroe in 1973 – he changed the words changed for Diana). I never understood the full impact she had on the world as Princess of Wales while she was alive, but now, after visiting her exhibit at the Mall of America, learned the following things about the “People’s Princess:”
1) Mother Theresa and Princess Diana shared hearts of compassion for outreach work in India and became close enough friends for Mother Theresa to give Diana one of her prayer journals, which was on display at the exposition. UNREAL (article on their friendship here).
2) She raised Princes William and Harry into the wonderful men they are today (a personal interview by Matt Lauer, with the Princes, on MSNBC linked here).
3) She raised awareness and money for victims of crimes and violence all over the world – her visit to Cook County Hospital in 1996 is only one example of her outreach and compassion for the sick and broken.
While in the spotlight as a global figure, she was, as quoted in the media, “a display of grace.” During her brother’s eulogy at her funeral, he claimed his sister, the “People’s Princess,” was an innocent victim of media mongers encroaching on her life and “tarnishing” her reputation (it’s rumored that aggressive papparazzi are partly to blame for her death). His eulogy is posted below:
I post this blog to counter the negativity the media imposed on her reputation – all I care about is that her influential story be shared with the world.
Here’s a video clip of Princess Diana visiting Chicago in 1996 – more specifically, Northwestern University, my soon-to-be alma mater – where she was raising awareness and money for cancer research. I wish I had been on campus while she was here!
And here’s Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind,” written specifically for the Princess of Wales – a powerful depiction of her global charitable influence throughout her life:
Indeed, her legacy will never be forgotten.