With August 31st marking the 20th anniversary of her untimely death, and the recent HBO documentary, Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, we’ve had the late princess on our minds. The film focuses on Princes William and Harry’s memories of their mother — and also celebrates her activism on issues like homelessness and HIV/AIDS, which Prince Harry is carrying on.
In the late ‘80s, at the height of fear and stigma, Diana regularly visited those living with HIV and AIDS. She was famously photographed shaking hands with a man who was in the advanced stages of the condition, which shocked many at the time — but also helped start a global conversation about the need to learn the facts about HIV.
Diana was also a lifelong ally and supporter of the LGBT community, and one particularly amusing story illustrates this beautifully, and shows that beyond the princess, the advocate, and the celebrity… was a human being. And a pretty fun one at that.
The anecdote comes from a recent book, The Power of Positive Drinking, written by comedian Cleo Rocos. According to Rocos, in the late ‘80s, she, singing legend Freddie Mercury, and television actor Kenny Everett snuck Princess Di into a gay bar — dressed as a man.
In efforts to disguise her so that she could sneak into the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in south London, the group dressed Diana up as a “male model” reported the Huffington Post. Rocos goes on to describe how they dressed the princess in “an army jacket, black cap and sunglasses,” and Diana enjoyed a night out on the town, free of attention.
“When we walked in ... we felt she was obviously Princess Diana and would be discovered at any minute. But people just seemed to blank her. She sort of disappeared,” said Rocos. “But she loved it.” The presence of Mercury and Everett helped take the attention off Diana, though she did make a cute dude, joked Rocos.
“She did look like a beautiful young man,” explained Rocos. “She was always a very fit girl, so they might have thought, ‘There’s a nice young man with pert buttocks.’”