Princess Diana's Impact on Our Lives 20 Years After Her Death

Michele Zipp | Aug 30, 2017 Celebrities
Princess Diana's Impact on Our Lives 20 Years After Her Death
Image: Joe Shelley Imapress/ZUMA Press/Splash News

princess diana
Joe Shelley Imapress/ZUMA Press/Splash News

It was 20 years ago, on August 31, that Princess Diana died. Her tragic death shocked the world, but most devastated were (and are) her two sons. Prince William and Prince Harry have honored their mom in so many ways, and have carried on her legacy. And what a legacy it is -- here are some of the ways Princess Diana's life impacted us. 

Diana did so much in her 36 years. She redefined what it meant to be a princess, and also challenged norms even after her divorce. She encouraged a more modern way of thinking, with compassion and love. Her impact continues to inspire so many to this day -- a feat that shows no sign of slowing.

  • She made us believe in fairy tales.

    prince charles princess diana
    Joe Shelley Imapress/ZUMA Press/Splash News

    There was a magical air to the courtship of Diana and Charles, and their wedding allowed so many to believe in fairy tales. Diana's beautiful spirit and belief in good and positive change allowed others to dream big. 

  • She was the People's Princess.

    princess diana kids
    Tim Graham: Contributor/Getty

    Diana was the People's Princess, and she earned that beautiful title in the way that she was accessible and humble even with the crown. She brought hope to so many who didn't have hope. She was royal for all people.

  • Diana made philanthropy sexy.


    Princess Diana didn't just make appearances at charity events, she put all her effort into making a difference. Many feel that it was her work that inspired so many celebrities to join in. Her work, and the work she inspired others to do, has truly made life better for so many.

  • She inspired rebellion.

    princess diana william
    Tim Graham: Contributor/Getty

    While Diana's rebellion was certainly within the tamer aspect of the word, she did rebel against what it meant to be part of the royal family in so many ways. She paved the way for her sons ... and it is her rebellion that shows up in the ways of Kate Middleton.

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  • She showed how you can be shy and bold.

    princess diana william harry
    Anwar Hussein: Contributor/Getty

    Diana seemed very shy and quiet, with the softest voice, especially in her early days of being crowned princess. But no one could mistake that shyness for not being bold. Her voice may have been soft, but it carried her, inspired so many, and did very bold things.

  • She championed issues no one knew about.

    princess diana
    Joe Shelley Imapress/ZUMA Press/Splash News

    Diana looked for the world's injustices and wanted to make a difference. Her work with landmines is the perfect example. Not many knew of the crisis in Angola and other parts of Africa. Landmines were killing and harming people, and children. Diana made the crisis known, even walking on a landmine field, helping people to see the humanitarian issue and allowing true change to happen.

  • She brought royal fascination to the forefront.

    princess diana
    Joe Shelley Imapress/ZUMA Press/Splash News

    While the fascination with all things Diana got a bit out of control at times, the interest did a lot of good as well, allowing her causes to be written about and inspiring others. We may not be reading and writing so much about royals today if it wasn't for her influence.

  • She made it so royals can show heart and compassion.

    princess diana william
    Tim Graham: Contributor/Getty

    The reason Kate Middleton is compared to her late mother-in-law so much is because they really are similar in their manner. Both women show so much heart and compassion to others, beyond what was once considered an icy reception by most royals. Diana paved the way for Kate.

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  • She inspired people to help those who need it most.

    princess diana
    Joe Shelley Imapress/ZUMA Press/Splash News

    One of Diana's missions was helping the homeless with a focus on youth. USA Today reported she once said that every "young person deserves a proper start in life, and those who have no family to turn to, need to rely on us as a society (to give) the help, the encouragement they need." Her son, Prince William, continues this work in her honor to this day.

  • The way she cared for her sons.

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    Archive: Stringer/Getty

    Diana was an incredible mother. The love she showed for her sons and the way she nurtured them and allowed them to be themselves and not feel like they had to live in a royal bubble was amazing. She did so much great work in her life, and the way she was a mom to her kids is at the top of that list. The proof is in the way they carry on her legacy with the grace, intelligence, and strength that she possessed as well. 

  • She reinvented what it meant to dress as a princess.

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    Joe Shelley Imapress/ZUMA Press/Splash News

    Diana was also one of the most fashionable princesses. Her style inspired the biggest fashion houses across the globe.

  • She challenged the stigma surrounding AIDS.

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    Branimir Kvartuc/ZUMA Press/Splash News

    During the early days of the AIDS crisis, Diana made it her mission to stop the fear and get focused on real care. She shook hands with an HIV-positive patient, bringing a humanness to the problem. Many strides have been made since then, and the work continues.

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  • She challenged old thoughts on divorce.

    princess diana
    Archive : Stringer/Getty

    There may always be a stigma that comes with divorce, but Diana truly challenged that in the way that she carried herself after her marriage to Prince Charles had ended. She was relatable and so human -- and for the most part, the empathy she had always given to others was given to her as well.

  • And also challenged thoughts on single motherhood.

    princess diana william harry
    Tim Graham: Contributor/Getty

    Of course, being a princess (even one divorced from the Royal family) comes with its own set of privileges. But Diana also had a commoner feel even when she was walking down the aisle to marry Prince Charles. That down-to-earth quality she had never left her, and she took that into single motherhood with pride. It was clear that her focus was on her kids, protecting them and giving them the best life possible with the kind of wealth money cannot buy. She certainly achieved that.

  • She was honest about her own struggles.

    princess diana prince charles
    Joe Shelley Imapress/ZUMA Press/Splash News

    The fact that Princess Diana was able to talk about her postpartum depression, emotions surrounding her divorce, as well as her struggle with bulimia was a major breakthrough. Royals are supposed to stay tight-lipped on personal things, but Diana defied that notion. The fact that she talked about it helped reduce the stigmas attached, allowing people to get the help they need to cope and survive, and even thrive.

  • She inspired her sons.

    princess diana harry william
    Antony Jones: Julian Parker: Contributor/Getty

    The princes lost their mom when they were so young (Harry was 12, William was 15), but her impact was so strong on their lives and continues to be. Both of her sons have taken up the charities she started, and continue her incredible work. They have certainly honored her legacy, which would have made her so proud. It is Diana's inspiration to her sons that continues to make differences in the lives of so many today.

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