Princess Diana demonstrated to the world how to make use of fame for good.

Princess Diana demonstrated to the world how to make use of fame for good. 

Princess Diana demonstrated to the world how to make use of fame for good.

On Wednesday, people gathered at the "Flamme de la Liberte" memorial in Paris to remember Lady Diana Spencer on the occasion of her passing 25 years ago.

It is now exactly 25 years since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. But her legacy of activism and charity (not to mention bike shorts) lives on.

Diana died at the age of 36 on Aug. 31, 1997, from injuries sustained in a car accident in Paris that also killed her partner, Dodi Fayed, and her driver, Henri Paul. About a decade later, a jury blamed her death on the reckless driving of her chauffeur and the paparazzi who chased her (her sons also blame the BBC for the role its landmark 1995 interview - which was the result of forgery and fraud - played in her death).

The so-called "people's princess" was not only beloved by the public. According to British journalist Bidisha Mamata, she also completely changed the way people see celebrities.

Princess Diana demonstrated to the world how to make use of fame for good.

In 1983, Princess Diana greeted fans in Brixton, London.

"In the 21st century, we take it completely for granted that famous people are also special envoys to the United Nations, or that they use their privilege to do good," she explains. "Princess Diana invented the idea of the famous person doing good, and she was extremely radical.

Diana used her celebrity to draw attention to a number of humanitarian and philanthropic projects. At one point, she was associated with more than 100 charities.

Princess Diana demonstrated to the world how to make use of fame for good.Princess Diana explores minefields close to Huambo, Angola, while wearing a face shield and heavy-duty protective gear.

She traversed minefields in Bosnia and Angola to advocate for landmine clearance, visited lepers in Nepal, India and Zimbabwe, and opened Britain's first infirmary in London AIDS. There, she famously shook hands with a patient without gloves, challenging the false and once widely held belief that HIV/AIDS could be transmitted through casual touch.

Diana also made headlines for hugging a young patient while visiting a pediatric AIDS ward in Harlem, New York.

"She was an activist at a time when AIDS and HIV were so stigmatized," Mamata said. "And she was the one who went into the AIDS stations and said, 'No, I am going to talk to people like they are normal people. I am going to shake their hand, we are going to communicate, and I am going to raise awareness."

In an interview in Morning Edition immediately after Diana's death, the late British historian Ben Pimlott predicted that Diana would be remembered for her public service and for breathing fresh life into the monarchy.

He described her as "a very witty, witty, perceptive, human person with a great rapport and a great compassion".

Diana's life - including her difficult marriage to Prince Charles and treatment by the royal family - and the circumstances leading to her death continue to captivate the public decades later.

In recent months, her story has been featured both on screen and on streaming services, where she is played by Emma Corrin in the Netflix series The Crown and Kristen Stewart in the film Spencer. Princes William and Harry unveiled a statue of her at Kensington Palace on her 60th birthday last July. And just this weekend, a Ford Escort that Diana drove in the 1980s was auctioned for more than $850,000.

On Wednesday, the anniversary, mourners gathered in Paris to lay flowers, leave messages and pay their last respects on the bridge over the subway where Diana was killed. Others decorated a makeshift memorial outside the gates of Kensington Palace. And at Althorp House, the Spencer estate where Diana grew up, the flag was lowered to half-mast.

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