Prince Harry has accepted the Legacy Award at The Virgin Holidays Attitude Awards, powered by Jaguar, on behalf of Princess Diana, for her ground-breaking HIV/Aids activism.
Harry, 33, paid tribute to his late mother as he collected the award at the star-studded ceremony at London’s Roundhouse on Thursday night (October 12).
The Prince was introduced by Ian Walker, a former Senior Occupational Therapist at the London Lighthouse Aids centre, and Julian La Bastide, a former nurse at the Mildmay Mission Hospital, who discussed their experiences of meeting Diana and the on-going legacy of her HIV/Aids work.
The award, presented in the 20th anniversary year of Diana’s death in a car crash in Paris, recognises the significance of her work in challenging the stigma and fear that surrounded HIV/Aids in the 1980s and ’90s.
The Princess made headlines around the world in April 1987 when she opened the UK’s first purpose-built HIV/Aids unit that exclusively cared for patients infected with the virus, shaking the hand of a man living with the virus, without wearing gloves, as she did so.
The moment marked the beginning of a decade of HIV/Aids activism which only ended with her untimely death in 1997.
Darren Styles, Managing Director of Stream Publishing and Publisher of Attitude magazine, said: “In the 1980s a princess was expected to be pretty, dutiful and a devoted wife and mother. But there was much more to Diana, Princess of Wales, than that. Behind her famous beauty and style, there was a radical firebrand driven by a passion for activism.
“Very few individuals had the power to change the mindset of millions of people at that time, but Diana knew that she was one of them — and she chose to wield her power to improve the lives of gay men suffering with HIV/Aids.
“Without the expected mask, gown or gloves, she touched and embraced the sick and the dying, when the common misconception was sharing cutlery or a public bathroom would see you infected. It changed understanding, and it changed our world.
“2017 may mark 20 years since the death of the Princess. But it also marks 30 years since the start of her HIV activism, and her opening of the UK’s first hospital unit dedicated to HIV/Aids. And that’s what Attitude is commemorating by posthumously awarding Diana, Princess of Wales, our Legacy Award.”