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Princess Diana’s commitment and dedication to her patronages helped many of the organisations successfully carry out their work. The late Princess of Wales, thanks to her empathy and understanding of issues she championed, has been particularly important in changing the public perception surrounding leprosy patients, according to the national director of her former patronage, The Leprosy Mission. But her death left people affected by this disease without a champion of Diana’s stature and international reach.
Her sons Prince Harry and Prince William, however, would be particularly fitting to pick up her legacy, as they have done with so many other causes she used to champion.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Peter Waddup said: “What made Princess Diana special to The Leprosy Mission was that her passion to include the most vulnerable members of global society was seen in her actions.
“She embraced people affected by leprosy against the advice of those whose duty it was to protect her.
“We are blessed to have some very special Vice Presidents and Ambassadors with the same heart as Princess Diana.
“However, the position of Patron of The Leprosy Mission has remained vacant since her death.
“We have always held out a hope that either Prince William or Prince Harry might find time to become more involved in our work.
“While the way charities work overseas today is very different to the 1990s, the need for a high profile person with a real heart for the marginalised, like Princess Diana, never changes.
“We were blessed that she chose to make The Leprosy Mission one of the few special charities which she devoted her time to in 1996, the year before she died.”
Prince William and Prince Harry have each taken on several of the causes championed by their mother.
Both brothers have spearheaded campaigns, such as Heads Together, to end the stigma surrounding mental health.
Last year, Prince Harry literally followed in Diana’s footsteps in Angola during his tour to Africa, when he visited the village built on the former landmine his mother had walked through in January 1997.
The Duke echoed his mother in calling for the complete removal of land mines in the African continent.
And, alongside his brother William, the Duke of Sussex has also continued Diana’s battle to end the stigma surrounding AIDS when they voiced their support for the Terrence Higgins Trust, named after one of the first people in Britain to die of the disease.
Princess Diana became the patron of The Leprosy Mission in 1990, one year after visiting a leprosy hospital in Indonesia.
During her landmark trip, the Princess of Wales heavily contributed to dispel the false and isolating myth that leprosy can be spread by simply touching someone affected by it.
While visiting the Sitanala Hospital with Prince Charles, the Princess of Wales was famously photographed shaking the hands of a person affected by leprosy.
As noted by the communication officer at The Leprosy Mission, this simple gesture had a “ripple effect”.
However, Diana’s death appears to have brought to a halt the progress towards eradicating leprosy.
Charlotte Walker at the Mission had previously noted in a blog post: “It is not by chance that Diana’s death coincided with a general apathy towards leprosy and a public perception that the Biblical disease had finally been ‘dealt with’.
“Tragically we still mourn the ‘Diana effect’ with the latest research revealing millions of new leprosy cases are going undiagnosed.
“I am certain that should her life had not been cut tragically short and she had continued campaigning, the world would be closer to ridding itself of this cruel disease.
“In the meantime the number of new cases where people have already developed an irreversible disability is rising demonstrating the desperate need to diagnose and treat sooner, something our staff across Asia and Africa work tirelessly to achieve.”
Diana chose to remain the patron of the Mission even after she lost her royal title, following her divorce to Charles in 1996.
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