Three years ago, Prince William and his brother Harry commissioned work on a statue to honour the memory of their mother Princess Diana. The statue would have been unveiled this year but the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown derailed their plans.

Intent on making sure that those who loved the princess had a place to visit and “reflect on her life and her legacy”, Diana’s sons have announced that the statue will be unveiled on what would have been her 60th birthday, 1 July 2021.

It has been 23 years since the Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash and yet, many people around the world still remember where they were when they heard the news. Through her humanitarian work, Princess Diana earned the title of People’s Princess. She was also a beacon of hope for women who watched her shatter stereotypes and strive for the empowerment of the underprivileged.

Here are four times Princess Diana won the hearts of women across the globe:

‘The Revenge Dress’

Diana remains one of history’s most memorable fashion icons. On many occasions, she shied away from the typical and reserved style expected of women in the royal family, and dazzled in elegant and daring outfits.

The most unforgettable of those occasions was in June 1994 on the day that her then husband Prince Charles publicly revealed that he had been unfaithful to her. Hours later, the style icon stepped out in a sexy off-the-shoulder dress with a dramatic chiffon train. That ensemble was appropriately named ‘The Revenge Dress.’

A Princess Diana handwritten thank you letter where she discusses deserving a medal for turning 30
(PICS BY RR AUCTION / CATERS NEWS, magazinefeatures.co.za)

Split from Prince Charles

Generally, divorce in the royal family is frowned upon. There was a time when it was forbidden.

Diana’s fairytale wedding to Prince Charles in 1981 established a marriage that lasted fifteen years. In 1996, the pair divorced mainly because the prince was engaged in an affair with his now-wife Camilla Parker Bowles.

While some people condemned the split, many women around the world praised the princess for putting her happiness first regardless of what royal conventions expected.

The two Princes and their mother, Princess Diana, in SEG uniforms at the ‘Garage’ in Barnes
Pictures from ‘Escorting the Monarch: We Lead, Others Follow’ by Chris / Pen and Sword History / mediadrumworld.com/magazinefeatures.co.za

Hands-on parenting 

The royal family has for centuries relied on a host of nannies and domestic staff to raise their children. Diana’s parenting style was a lot more involved. She attended school events and even participated in sporting events with her sons.

Another rule in the most powerful family in the UK was that two heirs to the throne should not travel together should an accident occur. But in 1983 when her first-born son William was nine months old, Diana insisted that he travel on the same flight with her and Prince Charles.

Prince William’s wife, Duchess Kate, has followed Diana’s example of hands-on parenting. She even shares many of her own photographs of her family on social media. She loves playing outdoors with her three little ones, and has been very candid about her own parenting struggles in the past.

‘I love playing outdoors with the kids’ – Duchess Kate gives rare insight into motherhood

Interview that shocked the world 

In November 1995, more than twenty million people tuned in to BBC to watch Diana in conversation with host Martin Bashir. During the no-holds barred interview, Diana gave the public an intimate account of her struggles in the palace. She candidly opened up about her depression, eating disorder and the failure of her marriage. One of the more popular quotes from that exchange was: “Well, there were three of us in this marriage so it was a bit crowded.”

That interview was seen by many women as a release from the shackles of royal protocols which had stifled the princess for years.

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