How Princess Diana's impromptu act in New York changed the younger royal's outlook forever

Royal experts argue that one poignant moment in Diana's life changed the way the Royal Family works today

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Princess Diana is thought to have changed the way that modern royals work forever with one touching act in New York back in 1989.

  • The trip, which was recently recreated for Netflix's The Crown, saw the late princess visit underprivileged children, meet AIDS patients at a hospital in Harlem and attend a gala dinner.
  • Her open and tactile approach ultimately worked to make royals seem more 'normal' - something the next generation still do today.
  • In other royal news, King Charles has begun Christmas at Windsor.

Diana made her iconic visit to the AIDS unit of Harlem Hospital in New York City back in February 1989. The Princess - who was passionate about reducing the stigma that surrounded AIDS - was so moved, that she unexpectedly picked up and hugged a 7-year-old patient.

Diana is thought to have met the young boy while he was standing in the hospital corridor with his nurse and stopped to ask him, “Are you very heavy?”

The Los Angeles Times wrote of the event, "For two or three minutes, the worlds of poverty and plenty were united as the princess and the patient stood in the hallway, the little boy’s head on Diana’s shoulder, his arms around her neck. With a sad smile, the princess finally put him down."


(Image credit: Getty)

Diana's open quality is something that many royal experts have used as the pinpoint of the moment the Royal Family began to change its approach - a tactic which is particularly seen in the likes of The Prince and Princess of Wales.

And on the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana's death earlier this year, body language and behavioral expert Darren Stanton revealed the key character traits of Princess Diana's that have been adopted by the Princess of Wales over the years.

He said, "So much of Diana can be seen in Kate. She is a very compassionate person and willing to use her position to influence and help make the lives of others better."

"Like William, she is not afraid to step outside of the box and do what is required to help, we often see Kate getting stuck in during her Royal appearances and she has no qualms when it comes to engaging and interacting with others from everyday walks of lives, much like Diana did."

Princess Diana

(Image credit: Getty)

Diana's biographer, Andrew Morton, also made a similar observation about Prince Harry. When he spoke to The Mirror's podcast, Pod Save The King, he said, "Prince Harry was and is a natural, he and his wife have got charisma and there is no denying that."

"And when I see Harry kneeling down with his arm around some kid, I am just watching Diana. It transports you back 25, 30 years. She marked a turning point in the way the Royal Family behaved and through her behavior helped to modernize and make more human the Royal Family."

"So it wasn't big handbags, white gloves, and standoffish. It was more touchy-feely than it had ever been in the past. She made the Royal Family more relevant to modern times."

Robyn is a celebrity and entertainment journalist and editor with over eight years experience in the industry. As well as contributing regular to woman&home, she also often writes for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman's Weekly and The Sun.