It was a moment that shocked and surprised many at the time, but ultimately began a much-needed worldwide conversation about HIV and AIDS. In 1987, Princess Diana (who was already an active advocate for those living with the then-deadly condition) was photographed shaking a young man’s hand who was in the advanced stages of the virus, after he had presented her with a bouquet of flowers.
“HIV does not make someone dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug — heaven knows, they need it,” Diana said passionately at a press conference afterwards. A woman of her position could have easily put her attentions toward a less controversial cause, but instead Diana chose to use her status as a global icon to bring attention to, and eradicate the stigma of, HIV and AIDS — work that her son, Prince Harry, is proud to carry on.
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But it wouldn’t be the first or last time the unconventional royal would shock the world. Though she was sweet and soft-spoken, Diana was also a woman who did things her own way, regardless of what people thought. She was friend and an ally within the LBGT community, and once showed her fun and adventurous side by dressing as a man and sneaking into a gay bar with Freddie Mercury in the late ‘80s.
Watch more memories of Diana in this current series of short videos by CNN which celebrate her life and legacy 20 years after her death.