Princess Diana was known as the “people’s princess,” and although it’s been nearly 25 years since her untimely passing, her popularity with the public hasn’t waned. If anything, it’s grown even stronger, as her sons Prince William and Prince Harry continue to honor her incredible legacy.
July 1 was Diana’s birthday, and on the occasion of what would have been her 60th birthday in 2021, William and Harry paid tribute to their mother by unveiling the first official statue of her. Located at the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, one of Diana’s favorite spots at the residence, the statue was opened to the public so that people can visit and pay their respects in person.
Sculpted by Ian Rank-Broadley, the statue depicts Diana with short hair accompanied by three children. In front, a paving stone is engraved with words inspired by the poem “The Measure of Man.” “The figure of Diana, Princess of Wales, is surrounded by three children who represent the universality and generational impact of the Princess’s work,” Kensington Palace said regarding the statue’s special meaning.
The statement also continued, “The portrait and style of dress was based on the final period of her life, as she gained confidence in her role as an ambassador for humanitarian causes and aims to convey her character and compassion.”
Although Diana’s legacy is wide-ranging — from her iconic sense of style to her ability to buck the rigid royal system — what’s most lasting is her kindness and legacy of humanitarian work. In fact, her charitable efforts have been continued by her two sons and their respective wives.
In honor of what would be Diana’s 61st birthday, let’s take a look at what made the people’s princess so loved by the world.
Princess Diana (1995), (Pool Photograph/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Still today, nearly 25 years since her untimely death, Princess Diana is remembered fondly all over the world for her kind-hearted manner and charity work. Diana’s early death in 1997 at the age of 36 devastated not only the British royal family but also fans across the globe. In the wake of her passing, memorabilia of her quickly rose to prominence.
While there have been lulls of interest, Diana remains a popular person and topic even to this day. Certain events and occasions such as documentaries or Netflix’s recent series “The Crown” keep people interested in everything there is to know about Diana and the tragic tale behind her rise as a beloved British royal family member.
What set Diana apart from the rest was her need to help others. The Diana Award, an organization that honors young people who help to improve the lives of others, stated:
“Diana didn’t just accept the world around her for the way it was and she used her role in the public eye to help causes that many others overlooked.”
She also truly believed that young people were capable of changing the world. Speaking about her innate sense of caring and desire to help others, Diana once said:
“Helping people in need is a good and essential part of my life, a kind of destiny.”
Among her many charitable efforts, Diana worked with charities including the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, made strides in helping to break down the stigma of HIV/AIDS, spent time with disabled and ill kids at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and advocated for the homeless.
Statue of Diana, Princess of Wales (2021), (Dominic Lipinski-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The statue of Diana’s unveiling coincided with what would have been her 60th birthday in 2021. Fans from around the world took to social media to pay tribute to Diana and the new statue. Of course, the most important tribute came from the late princess’ children — Prince William and Prince Harry, who have continued on her incredible legacy of helping others.
“Today, on what would have been our mother’s 60th birthday, we remember her love, strength and character — qualities that made her a force for good around the world, changing countless lives for the better,” William and Harry said in their joint statement that accompanied the unveiling of their late mother’s statue.
One of the reasons Diana’s humanitarian work resonated so much with the world was because she went further than other celebrities before her. Instead of just talking about causes she was passionate about, she went to the front lines — literally putting her life at risk by walking through a field of active landmines or spending time sitting with patients with leprosy.
In fact, Harry honored his mother’s 1997 trip to Dirico, Angola, where she walked through a field of landmines by tracing the same route himself in 2019. The Duke of Sussex shared a photo of his mother from her trip there, before posting images of himself walking the same path. The caption read:
“Today in Angola The Duke of Sussex will retrace his mother’s steps to see the legacy of her work and how her connection with this community helped make the elimination of landmines a reality.”
Diana’s trip had a direct impact on the region and led to historical change as it helped get the Ottawa Treaty enacted, also known as the Convention Against Anti-Personal Landmines. Considering all of the positive change Diana brought to the world, despite her short lifetime, it’s no wonder she’s still such an inspiration to many.
Prince William (2022), (Samir Hussein – Pool/WireImage/Getty Images)
Honoring his mother on what would have been her 61st birthday, William paid tribute to the most recent recipients of The Diana Award. According to PEOPLE, the award honors people for their social action and humanitarian work, as it was something that Diana valued and promoted for much of her life as a royal.
Both William and Harry have spoken up in the past to show their support for the prestigious award, as well as pay tribute to those who have won the award. According to PEOPLE, 180 philanthropists were honored as part of 2022’s virtual celebration, with the recipients coming from 29 countries all around the world.
William released a letter congratulating the winners of 2022 and admiring them for carrying on his late mother’s legacy. On official Kensington Palace stationary with William’s standard “W” cipher, the Duke of Cambridge wrote:
“Congratulations on receiving The Diana Award today! You are part of an inspirational generation of young people who are changing the world through your actions, and I hugely admire your efforts. I hugely admire your efforts. Your stories are remarkable. Many of you face huge challenges in the face of difficult times, yet you are tirelessly breaking down barriers to create a better future for us all.”
William concluded, “You truly are the personification of my mother’s legacy and I know she would be so proud of you all. I believe there’s no better way to celebrate her life and work than through recognizing incredible people who dedicate so much time and effort to helping those around them.”
Although Diana is no longer with us, her legacy is as vibrant as ever.
Do you remember Diana, Princess of Wales’ charitable efforts during her lifetime? What do you think about her sons continuing on her legacy in that area? Let us know, then pass this on to those you know so they can honor her memory too.