By Austin Seck
Princess Diana Spencer left behind a long-lasting legacy. Her son Prince Harry, despite famously distancing himself from the Royal Family in stepping back from his duties, recently flew across the Atlantic for the unveiling of a statue in his mother’s honour. Upon seeing it, he mouthed a single word: “amazing”.
Princess Diana is widely accepted as my generation’s favourite royal – her popularity has been bolstered through the creation of internet memes, as well as Emma Corrin’s award winning portrayal of her in the Netflix series ‘The Crown’. Numerous social media groups, particularly on Facebook, have been set up in her honour. Members of these groups affectionately refer to her as ‘Ar Di’.
“I wonder what Ar Di would have ordered at Spoons”
“If Ar Di had wheels she would be a bike”
“Ar Di would have been in the queue outside Flat White”
These are just a flavour of the kind of quotes found in the archives of social media, where people from all over the world join together to discuss the Princess and preserve her memory. Her legacy, however, is far more than the laughter and joy brought by such light-hearted foolery on the internet.
By far the most important aspect of Princess Diana’s legacy is that she helped the Royal Family to look compassionate, namely because she was involved in much notable charity work. She was frequently pictured comforting the vulnerable in society – lepers, the terminally ill, and the victims of land mines.
She is also widely regarded as a gay icon for her charity work with gay men suffering from AIDS. Despite the fact that Diana was herself from a privileged, noble background, she overturned the cold and distant image of purple royalty, and extended a warm hand reaching far into the depths of society. Whilst doing this, she always radiated happiness.
What makes Princess Diana’s legacy even more ‘amazing’ is the fact that, during much of her time in the spotlight, her marriage was crumbling. In the 20th century, the image of an independent woman with a warm heart being actively and progressively engaged in society, despite issues in her personal life, was empowering.
Princess Diana’s image was one of encouragement for women around the world, because it showed that even whilst dealing with marriage troubles, one could still muster the courage to do good and live a fulfilling life.
Of course, Prince Harry’s tight relationship with his mother is very well known – he stated in his now famous Oprah interview that part of his reason for stepping down was because he didn’t want to lose another woman close to his heart, as he felt the pressure of the media and public attention building upon his wife Meghan Markle (and baby Archie).
Meghan’s struggles with the British press suggest that history is repeating itself and the paparazzi are still crossing boundaries with female Royals, infringing upon Meghan’s personal life just as they did with Princess Diana’s.
Noticeably, Harry and Meghan are upholding Diana’s legacy by continuing their charity efforts, even across the ocean. When put into the limelight, one is presented with an excellent opportunity to make a positive impact on the world, and that was certainly something Princess Diana did.
She made the most of her time in the spotlight of the public eye to highlight the struggles of the vulnerable; those who have fallen through the cracks. As such, she left behind a legacy that encompasses those often forgotten by society.
In an interview just a couple of years before her death, the Princess said that she wanted to be a “queen of people’s hearts”. She achieved this wish, and continues to hold this very legacy posthumously. Not only has she essentially become a cultural icon, but she arguably remains by far the most socially influential of the Royals.
As we look at the ‘amazing’ Princess Diana statue commemorating her would-be 60th birthday, let’s remember the long-lasting legacy that she created. Let’s especially commemorate what she represents to the LGBTQ+ community, to the emboldening of the independent woman, and all those across the world who celebrate Ar Di as the queen of their hearts.
Image: paisleyorguk via Flickr