This week in Awesome Mothers of History, I want to dive into the background of Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales. You might be asking yourself, "Why are we talking about a princess? How can she possibly be considered so awesome?" Well buckle up, friend! It's about to get impressive up in here.
A note before we begin: you know me and my true-crime-loving heart. If it's got even a hint of foul play around it, I'll be all over it. Diana's death was not only one of the most visible and studied tragedies of the 90's, it also captured the imagination of conspiracy theorists all over the world. Since I study true crime for fun, I've looked into her death. While I'm not convinced that she was killed in foul play, I am also not entirely convinced the incident was purely accident. Setting aside the controversy around her death, I'd like to focus on the life experiences that made Diana such a loved - and heroic - mother.
Diana Spencer was only twenty years old when she married into the most famous family on the planet. Prince Charles, heir apparent to the throne, had chosen the twenty-year-old Diana as his mate with the blessing of his own family. Unique from the get-go, Diana was the first woman to marry into the royal family that had held down a job before becoming a royal. Some months after their wedding, Diana revealed that she was pregnant with her first son, Prince William. During the pregnancy, Diana suffered from severe peripartum depression. Any woman who can survive that sort of mental health crisis while living in the public eye gets mad respect from me.
After her dismissal from the royal family, Diana revealed that the pressure to remain perfect took a huge toll on her mental health. She admitted that she was probably too young to fully comprehend the choice she had made in marrying Charles; and that by the time it hit her, she felt isolated and manipulated. As a means of regaining a sense of control over her life, Diana eschewed many of the prescribed Royal Family traditions. She chose her kids' names herself, refused the Royal Nanny and hired her own sitter, and arranged all play dates and educational activities for her sons. This hands-on nurturing made her relatable to mothers around the world, and it made an indelible impact on her sons. To this day, they speak of nothing but beautiful memories with their beloved mother.
Like a truly amazing mother, Diana powered through her mental health issues. She went on to bear a second son, Harry. Not long after Harry's birth, rumors of Charles' ongoing affair became public knowledge. Deeply embarrassed, Diana threw herself into her charitable work. At one point, she even sat as President of London's Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). Health and wellness issues became particularly important to Diana, who became a spokewoman for those suffering with leprosy or HIV/AIDS. In fact, she made history when she shook the hand of an AIDS patient with zero hesitation. In a time when AIDS patients were deeply ostracized and feared, Diana walked bravely into the heart of the disease and treated patients with kindness and dignity. She was a patron of over one hundred charities during her time as Princess, with some of her most visible work helping survivors of landmines.
Compassion is always counter-cultural, and Diana was a maverick in her high-society world. Despite being arguably the most famous woman in the world at the time, Diana maintained a humility and gentleness that endeared her to everyone she met. Stephen Less, the Director of the UK Institute of Charity Fundraising Managers is quoted as having said, "Her overall effect on charity is probably more significant than any other person's in the 20th century." I'd have to say I agree!
Between her charitable work, her polite dissent against outdated Royal Family traditions, and her obvious hands-on investment in her sons, Diana Spencer is undoubtedly one of the most Awesome Mothers Of History.
Do you remember watching Princess Diana work with any of her many charities? Would you describe her as an Awesome Mother? Share your thoughts with me on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3.