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The charitable contributions and humanitarian efforts of Princess Diana

Katarina Kovacevic is a freelance travel writer specializing in hotels and resorts. She's the author of The Food Lovers' Guide to Phoenix & Scottsdale and founder/editor of Style Jaunt, a blog about fashionable travel. Her work has appea...

Princess Diana's causes & charities

Call her a rebel with a cause. Since the day Princess Diana stepped into the royal limelight, she was known as an independent thinker. Always a champion of the underdog, Diana used her position as a member of the royal family to shine the spotlight on major world issues.

Princess DianaPrincess Diana's causes

Having struggled with bulimia, depression and thoughts of suicide, Lady Di managed to rise above her personal challenges to bring attention to disabled children, homeless people, children around the globe and those suffering from HIV or full-blown AIDS.

Helping victims of Landmines

After divorcing Prince Charles in 1996, Diana focused intensely on a handful of charities and expanded her efforts to help victims of landmines, particularly children. She organized and participated in protests and fundraisers across countries in Europe, Asia and Africa -- hotbeds for landmines left over from previous wars. In 1997, she spoke at an anti-landmines conference and lobbied in Washington DC. During this time, she met Mother Teresa, and the two women formed an inseparable bond based on their humanitarian efforts.

Helping sick children

Humanitarian aid played an important role in Diana's life, and her personal interests were often reflected in the organizations for which she was a volunteer. Her work extended from the Great Ormond Street for Sick Children in London to the Leprosy Mission and the National Aids Trust.

fostering Aids awareness

Her work with the latter organization brought about controversy. In 1987, she visited the Middlesex Hospital in London and was the first to shake hands with an AIDS patient (palace advisors tried hard to dissuade her). Then, in 1991, she traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to comfort abandoned children living with AIDS in a local shelter. It was here that she was photographed holding a baby with the disease.

At a time when specifics about the virus were yet unknown, Diana crossed barriers to offer solace to victims and worked to change the opinions of the general public, something that certainly didn't follow royal protocol. When asked about her work, Diana simply replied: "HIV does not make people dangerous to know. You can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it."

the diana, princess of wales Memorial fund

Princess Diana's untimely death in August 1997 shocked the world, and the outpouring of sympathy from people around the world was a true indication of the kind of reach and influence she had. As the rest of the world tried to come to terms with the loss, Diana's sons, Princes William and Harry, worked to continue her charitable legacy with the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

The independent grant-giving organization was established just a month after her passing with donations from people worldwide and continues her work in the United Kingdom and overseas. In the first nine years of its existence, the Fund pledged more than $125 million to more than 350 charities.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund also comprises a series of initiatives, including the Refugee and Asylum Seekers Initiative that works with selected partner organizations in the United Kingdom to change legislation and policy to meet international standards on children's rights. It also helps ensure that refugees and people seeking asylum are treated with fairness and humanity.

The Palliative Care Initiative, meanwhile, focuses on nine countries in sub-Saharan Africa and works to ensure that the crucial role of palliative care is recognized by national governments, their citizens and the international development community. The Fund follows in the spirit of Diana and focuses on marginalized people, providing them with support, a voice and opportunity.

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