Princess Diana's impact is still felt two decades after her tragic passing.
The late British royal's son Prince Harry accepted Attitude magazine's Legacy Award on her behalf Thursday evening, an honor bestowed upon Princess Diana for her extensive efforts in fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Harry graced the stage The Virgin Holidays Attitude Awards in London, offering a poignant speech on his beloved mother's groundbreaking activism. Princess Diana was one of the first public figures to be photographed interacting physically with AIDS victims—a decision that helped destigmatize and lessen the public's fear around the condition.
"In April of 1987, my mother was only 25-years-old," he recalled. "She was still finding her way in public life, but already she felt a responsibility to shine her spotlight on the people and issues that were often ignored."
Prince Harry continued, "She knew that AIDS was one of things that many wanted to ignore and seemed like a hopeless challenge. She knew that the misunderstanding of this relatively new disease was creating a dangerous situation when mixed with homophobia."
"People were ostracized from their communities and sometimes from their families simply for being ill," the 33-year-old said. "Staff who treated the ill were themselves often turned away from local barbers or restaurants even though it was proven that HIV could not be passed on from casual contact."
"We faced the very real risk that thousands would die in the U.K, including many young gay men of her generation without making any progress towards treatment of the disease," he remarked.
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Harry then commented on his mother's efforts to combat the now-archaic notion that the disease could be passed from simple physical contact.
"So when that April she shook the hand of a 32-year-old man with HIV in front of the cameras, she knew exactly what she was doing," he said in the speech. "She was using her position as Princess of Wales, the most famous woman in the world, to challenge everyone to educate themselves, to find their compassion and reach out to those need help instead of pushing them away."
Prince Harry concluded his tribute, "In the years that followed that famous handshake, her work continued both in public and private… She wanted the world to know the stories of those who were dying."