Diana will be remembered in many different ways, but undoubtedly the most important legacy of her extraordinary life is her two sons, William and Harry.
A SPECIAL TOUCH
As she freely admitted, Diana was not an intellectual. But despite her lack of academic achievement she possessed a quick wit and an understanding that enabled her to survive those early years and adapt to her new role, while her empathy with the public prevented her from being dismissed as merely a 'walking clothes-horse'.
Diana believed that the monarchy should be in touch with the people, and she won many hearts with her spontaneity and genuine warmth. She was a tactile person who loved to give a hug or a kiss, whether to a child in a Nigerian village or an old lady in a British geriatric ward. People from all walks of life and of all ages identified with her, for her sense of style as well as for the compassion she showed to the sick and the suffering, and to those who had been the outcasts of society.
The public turned out in droves whenever and wherever she appeared, and she always found time to stop and talk, often delaying her official programme in order to chat with people who had waited hours to see her.
It was her common touch, combined with her grace and aristocracy, which made her so popular with the press. They adored her, and followed her wherever she went, knowing that she would always provide them with a winning picture or story. She never let them down. Some of them whom she grew to trust, and took into her confidence, became personal friends who would mourn her in death as much as they had respected her in life.
PRINCESS OF STYLE
If ever a person could rightly claim to be a one-woman fashion industry, that person mast have been Diana, Princess of Wales. Almost single-handed she rejuvenated the British fashion scene, practically from the moment she first stepped onto the royal stage.
Legions of women, from Japan to Jersey, faithfully copied her style down to the tiniest detail. When she appeared in a 'Robin Hood' type of hat in the early 80s, identical copies were bought in their thousands, and when she, mischievously, wore a diamond necklace as a headband, jewelers throughout the world were inundated the next day with enquiries for replicas.
Diana never saw herself as a fashion icon and she disliked the description, believing it detracted from more serious side. She said she never followed fashion, only dressing 'for the job in hand'. It is true that she was not a follower but a trend-setter, and if she was set up as an icon it was only because women so admired her innate sense of style and her ability to choose what was right for her. She managed to combine a modern look with the requirements of royal dignity and cool elegance. The demands of her position necessitated a large wardrobe, and Diana was determined to show the very best of British design and manufacture wherever she went on her overseas tours, performing an extraordinary service for the fashion industry and bringing a new glamorous image to the Royal Family.
She was not dressed exclusively by British designers. Diana was often seen, in recent years, in outfits by Christian Dior, John Galliano, Gianni Versace and Jacques Azagury, as well as those she wore from Bruce Oldfield and Catherine Walker.
Diana was fascinated by showbusiness and the arts and missed no opportunity to mix with stars of stage and screen. Ballet was her first love, and as Patron of the English National Ballet she played an active role in the organization, often turning up to watch rehearsals and staying behind to talk with the dancers. She once wistfully remarked that she would have loved to have been a ballet dancer but 'at 5ft joins I'm too tall'. So when she sprang a surprise Christmas present for Prince Charles in 1985 by dancing on stage with Wayne Sleep, she was also achieving a life-time ambition. Some years later at a reception at the White House in Washington she partnered John Travolta on the dance floor and afterwards both said it was a 'dream come true'.
It was Diana's first change in hairstyle that seemed to transform her the most. Just after the birth of Prince Harry her pageboy hair-cut was replaced by a new style that was classic, sophisticated and totally stunning. The Diana look had arrived; the photographic image had been created.
In June 1997, responding to a suggestion by Prince William, Diana assigned Christie's to auction 79 of her dresses, raising 1,960,150 for charity. They ranged from short cocktail dresses to formal ball-gowns and included her favourite: a Victor Edelstein creation in duchesse satin with matching bolero jacket, which sold for 54,436.
A MODERN PRINCESS
With the collapse of her marriage in 1992 — separation, followed in 1996 by divorce — Diana set out to find a new life for herself as a single parent. She wanted to create an independent role outside the Royal Family but, as the mother of a future King, she was never completely able to shed her responsibilities, or her imagine throughout the world as 'Princess Di'.
She formed a number of unfortunate relationships which were quickly terminated and she realized that unqualified love and loyalty would come only from her sons. Diana worked hard at keeping physically fit by visiting a gymnasium most days, and she sought the company of people whom she believed would not try to exploit her.
She made many visits to the United States where her popularity never waned, and where she continued to be treated as royalty. Americans saw her as both an innocent victim and a winner in the divorce battle, and acclaimed her as a great survivor and the successful single mother.
Once the publicity of the marriage break-up had died down Diana began to working towards her goal, which was to be taken seriously in her own right. She had discussions with political leaders, such as President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, and finally she achieved her aim, talking a role of the international stage as an unofficial but highly influential ambassadress.
Her crusade for the world-wide banning of landmines touched the public conscience in a way that nothing else had done. She had picked on exactly the right subject at precisely the right moment.
A QUEEN OF HEARTS
At one time the Princess of Wales was involved with over a hundred charities, which she liked to call her 'Family of Organizations'.
At the height of her working life, her patronages included such disparate bodies as Barnardos, Birthright, and the British Deaf Association (for whom she leant sign language), the Leprosy Mission, the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children, The Princess of Wales Children's Health Camp in Rotorua (New Zealand), Turning Point, Help the Aged, Centrepoint, AIDS Crisis Trust and the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children.
When the accepted an invitation to become patron of a charity, she became a tireless worker.
Turning Point was perhaps one of the most unlikely groups for a member of the Royal Family to support. It was the largest national voluntary organization providing help for men and woman with drug and alcohol-related problems, and for people recovering from mental illness. When Diana was asked to join them she agreed without hesitation, on the condition that she was not to be merely another royal figurehead, but an active participant in all their work. She raised the profile of Turning Point dramatically and as their Chief Executive, Les Rudd, explained, 'We have an unpopular client group and without The Princess's personal involvement we would never have attracted the public's sympathy to such an extent'.
Diana chose to become actively involved with Centrepoint, a charity which concentrates on providing accommodation for homeless young people who are considered to be at risk. She said 'Nothing dives me greater pleasure than to try to help the most vulnerable people in society'.
In 1993 Diana announced her retirement from public life and relinquished her position with nearly all her charities. She retained and handful which she continued to support and work for until the day she died.
One of the most courageous and important of Diana's public appearances was undoubtedly when she decided to open the first specialist AIDS ward in Britain. AIDS was, at the time, the unmentionable disease and few people were prepared to be associated with its care and treatment. The Princess sent shock waves throughout the world when she shook hands with patients suffering from AIDS — and did so without wearing gloves. By that single action she demonstrated that people had no need to fear that the disease might be transmitted simply by touch. From that moment her commitment to the cause was total; she helped raise millions of pounds and, more importantly, she increased the public's awareness and understanding at a time when fear and prejudice were commonplace.