Today marks a quarter of a century since her death, but the legacy of Princess Diana lives on.
The world wept when Diana, aged 36, was killed alongside her boyfriend Dodi Al Fayed and their driver Henry Paul in a car crash in Paris’ Alma underpass on 31 August 1997.
Thanks to her activism, her charisma and her human touch, the mother of Prince William, now 40 and Prince Harry, 37, made a lasting impression on the British people and gained fans from all over the world.
She was praised for her relentless activism, which saw accomplish things no one else dared do, from tackling the stigma around AIDS to undertake a walk in a mine filed in Uganda in 1997.
The stylish royal was also revered in fashion circles for her taste, and even coined the term ‘revenge dress’ in 1994 when she stepped out in a revealing black number on the same night Prince Charles admitted he had been unfaithful.
Diana is also remembered as a trailblazing royal mum, who took her two sons on the school run, to McDonald’s and theme parks, to make sure they’d a normal life in spite of being the future king and qu4een’s children.
Twenty-five years after she broke the royal mould, we look back on what made her such a trailblazer for the monarchy – and so beloved the world over.
From uplifting to poignant, these were some of her most inspiring moments.
Breaking the stigma around AIDS
25 years after her death, FEMAIL looks at what made Princess Diana such a trailblazer for the monarchy – and so beloved the world over. Pictured talking with AIDS patient Wayne Taylor at the Casey House AIDS hospice in Toronto in October 1991
Diana was one of the first people in the world to take on the homophobic stigma surrounding AIDS in the 1980s.
In 1987 she famously shook hands with a British AIDs patient when many of the public wrongly feared the virus was spread by touch.
Similarly in New York, she went out of her way to hug children on a pediatric AIDs ward in a gesture recreated in the latest series of Netflix’s the Crown.
She also made a point to visit a AIDS hospice in Toronto during a tour of Canada in 1991, where she also took the time to meet with patients.
Diana in deep conversation with an AIDS patient during a visit to the AIDS Unit at the Middlesex hospital in 1991
Diana caused a sensation when she shook hands with an unnamed AIDS patient in 1987 during a visit to a Aids ward at the Middlesex Hospital in London
Diana was credited with changing public attitude to the condition by being unafraid to touch and hug the dying. In 1992, she famously shook hands with William Drake, a patient at the London Lighthouse Aids Centre
Diana’s was passionate about ending the stigma surrounding the condition, and during a children and AIDS conference in 1991, she encouraged people to reach out to AIDS sufferers.
In this speech, she famously said: ‘HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug, heaven knows they need it.’
Modern-day campaigners credit Diana with kick-starting global efforts to treat HIV sufferers with dignity.
The fact she was a hands-on mother who took her sons on the school run in spite of her royal status made Diana extremely popular (with Prince Harry and William in 1989)
Being a hands-on, trailblazing mum
Diana was also a trailblazing Royal mother to Prince Harry and Prince William, and her hands-on parenting, in spite of her royal status, made her extremely popular.
She accompanied Harry and William on the school run and even took part in sports days.
Her doting parenting style in public was remarkably different to anything the British public had seen before.
Her doting parenting style in public was remarkably different to anything the British public had seen before. Pictured during a skiing vacation in Australia in 1986
She frequently eschewed nannies and bodyguards, and took her sons to amusement parks and McDonald’s to try and give them ‘as normal a childhood as possible’.
Photos taken at the time showed how close a relationship she had with her son, which made their presence at her funeral even more poignant.
Many believe she redefined royal motherhood, and much of her style lives on in the parenting approaches of William and Harry. who have been similarly present with their respective children.
Perhaps one of the most famous image of Diana is her walk beside a minefield in Angola in 1997
Her heart-stopping landmine walk
Perhaps the most famous image of Diana is her walk beside a minefield in Angola in 1997.
The Princess had to don protective gear to walk through a narrow lane that had been cleared of explosives.
By this time the princess had separated from Charles and was renowned for her campaigning, frequently visiting warzones around the world.
But the image of her putting herself in danger won her a legion of new fans.
She died just a few months before the UN voted to ban land mines.
The dress Diana wore to the 1994 Vanity Fair party at the Serpentine Gallery in London is one of her most iconic looks of all time and has since been coined ‘the revenge dress’
Coning the term ‘Revenge Dress’
The dress Diana wore to the 1994 Vanity Fair party at the Serpentine Gallery in London is one of her most iconic looks of all time.
On the same night, her estranged husband Charles’s admission of adultery was broadcast on television.
But instead of hiding away, Diana chose to wear a very un-regal off-the-shoulder black silk evening dress.
It was interpreted as a message to the world – that she would not be meekly shuffling out of the public eye.
Her appearance was followed by triumphant headlines including ‘The Thrilla He Left To Woo Camilla’
And she has now been credited with giving birth to the phrase ‘revenge dress’
Diana’s human touch during her humanitarian work also struck a chord with the public. Pictured holding the hand of a leprosy patient during a visit to a centre run by the Leprosy Mission neat Harare in 1993
Her incomparable human touch
We’re used to seeing William and Kate and Harry and Meghan crouched down speaking to younger Royal fans.
But Princess Diana was the first to take herself down to children’s eye level… and in fact led the way with her physical interactions with the public.
The reason Diana crouching was so unusual was because of the belief that those in the United Kingdom should show deference to the royal family.
As well as attempting to make herself seem less intimidating with children, she would often be seen holding hands with the elderly or sick on royal visits.
Meeting refugees and visiting camps
Diana was also famously kissed on the hand by an elderly Croatian woman called Martha Meej, as she visited a refugee camp during an official Royal tour of Hungary in 1992
Diana was known for her relentless activism both during and after her marriage to Prince Charles.
As part of her humanitarian work, she paid numerous visits to refugee camps, from conflicts around the world.
Perhaps most famously her work with Leprosy took her to Zimbabwe in 1993 where she visited patients to show ‘they are not reviled, nor are we repulsed’.
She was also famously kissed on the hand by an elderly Croatian woman called Martha Meej, as she visited a refugee camp during an official Royal tour of Hungary in 1992.
Her commitment to ending homelessness
Diana was a patron of homeless charity Centrepoint, work that William carries on today. Pictured during a visit to the charity. Pictured in 1997 at the charity’s centre
Diana was a patron of homeless charity Centrepoint, work that William carries on today.
She took her sons to homeless shelters to teach her boys that ‘the whole world was not range rovers, shotguns and nannies’, childhood experiences that have stayed with both Princes to this day.
Diana was known to stop and speak to homeless Londoners and famously said in her 1995 speech for Centrepoint that every young person deserves a proper start in life.
Her best moments on the Buckingham Palace balcony
Princess Diana withy Charles and Harry and Rose Windsor and Lady Davina Windsor on Trooping the Colour 1985
The public has always loved those royal balcony moments, and Diana made regular appearances with young sons Harry and William.
Perhaps her most famous balcony appearance of all came after she married Prince Charles in July 1981.
The public loved to get a glimpse of the mother-of-two and her brood, from Prince William hiding his eyes in disbelief during Trooping the Colour 1988, to a lively Prince Harry sticking his tongue out to the crowds.
The finely tailored outfits she picked for these royal occasions were also a hit with fashionistas.