Series Handmaidens of the Lord. 2. The People’s Princess. Princess Diana.
She had innocence and beauty and to an entire generation of women who were teens in the 1980’s, she was our princess the People’s princess. We talked about her in our backyards, we searched for the latest photos in our newspapers and she was in our living rooms on our TV screens almost every day. We even had the Princess Diana haircut. Everyone got a day off to watch her fairy tale marriage on 29 July 1991. She was an ordinary girl come good, it was a Cinderella story. I think we all idolised her, even in those later years when it had all turned to custard and the cracks appeared in the marriage and she had that last summer of love in Greece in 1997. We didn’t mind that she wasn’t perfect, we didn’t mind that she was like the skin horse and some of her hair had been loved off, she was real. She had fragility but she didn’t break and she always had time for those who needed her most.
We all cried the day she died. We cried for days and more, we watched and cried at her funeral and the date of her death is forever marked in my memory as my mother died on the same day 11 years later.
She touched the people that no-one else would touch.
In those days we had something called section 28 in the British Law. It forbade teachers to promote or teach about homosexuality, it was an era where the GLBT agenda was just becoming less marginalised and it was still taboo especially with the ravages of HIV and AIDS. I taught in a rural idyll where farmers and wellington boots were the norm and had to turn down a proposed visit by the local GLBT health promotion specialist for fear that someone might slash his tyres.
In order to best serve my community, we had “that article 28 lesson” where I wasn’t allowed to teach or promote anything to do with the GLBT agenda but could attempt to answer questions with a degree of restraint. Those were the days of non-exam RS, and contemporary moral issues where we explored the burgeoning issues of HIV awareness and protocols associated with it and this is where Princess Diana really stole my heart.
She showed compassion and kindness to people that no-one else would touch. She didn’t just talk to them, she held their hands when no-one else dared and demonstrated openly that HIV couldn’t wouldn’t be passed by normal social discourse and normal social action. She gave forbearance to the weak and marginalised. She had kindness. She touched their hands “without gloves” and she touched our hearts and our souls with her insistence on doing what she believed was the right thing to do. She became the patron of the National AIDS trust and worked tirelessly with the Terence Higgins Trust. She was a fine mother to her two lovely sons and they too have continued to work with the causes their mother supported so dearly.
Speech by Princess Diana in 1991
Princess Diana opened the AIDS ward at the Middlesex Hospital in 1987. There was much speculation about if she would be wearing gloves. She didn’t God bless her.
Section 28 stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.