Diana was to help Iraqi infants

by Parveez Syed (c) Shanti RTV

September 1, 1997

LONDON-UK (SRTV-SC) - British royal princess Diana, 36, who died on Sunday 31 August 1997, was to help millions of Iraqi infants after her campaign to heighten public awareness to landmines in Diana, divorced from heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles a year ago, died in a Paris hospital from injuries suffered in a fatal high-speed car crash. Her millionaire Muslim companion Dodi Al Fayed and the car's driver were killed in the crash.

The untimely death of Diana came at a time when she was being drawn gradually - but inexorably - into caring humanitarian issues. She would willingly and eagerly go where her conscience and courage drove her, refusing to allow even British royal protocol, politicians and baby-killers to keep her out of the most sensitive of areas. She mirrored the concerns of ordinary people, showed compassion and courage where and used her special position to break down political obstacles, filters and borders. The anti-landmines campaign is the best example of that.

Diana crusaded against anti-personnel landmines with high-profile visits to help highlight the plight of landmine victims. She died on the eve of a conference in Oslo at which about 100 countries will try to agree on a treaty to ban anti-personnel landmines - her favorite cause, for which she traveled to war zone in Bosnia (on Friday 08 August 1997) and Angola (on 13 January 1997). "Diana, the saintly queen of peoples' hearts, was serious considering taking part in factual documentary on the killing of more than 750,000 Iraqi infants," a source close to the late princess told Shanti RTV news agency. Leaders in the world of charity said they had lost one of their greatest campaigners.

Caring humanitarians and campaigners who felt supported and encouraged by the Diana are deeply shocked and filled with grief. "The documentary was being researched by Shanti RTV, and may not be made until another high profile, caring humanist is brave enough to help expose and stop the crimes against humanity. A worldwide ban on landmines and stopping the crimes would be a fitting tribute to Diana," a Shanti Communications programme researcher said. "It would be a tribute from caring humanitarians and campaigners, and a mark of respect to her memory, because it would help to save so many other lives," he said. "Diana expressed humanitarian values. The tragedy would help prompt caring humanitarians to even greater efforts to encourage and persuade other nations, politicians, baby-killers and governments to back a landmines ban, lift the inhumane embargo on millions of Iraqi civilians and stop the crimes against humanity".

Landmines have killed and maimed so many people, including countless civilians, women and children. Governments from across the world have been challenged to sign up to a ban at a conference in Ottawa, Canada, in November 1997. In the Afghan capital Kabul, a UN official in charge of landmine clearance agencies said Diana's death was a loss for the campaign to ban landmines worldwide, of which the princess had become the most well-known supporter. Afghanistan where an estimated ten million mines, laid during 18 years of conflict, kill or maim 20 to 25 Afghans a day. "It is very sad for de-mining programmes not only for Afghanistan, but for the whole world," Tahsin Disbudak, regional manager for the UN mine clearance programme in Kabul, said. "De-mining agencies will remember her for ever," Disbudak said. "We lost our greatest supporter of banning mines and we want to extend our deepest sorrow about her death to her family," said Aziz Ahmad of the British mine clearance agency Halo Trust.

The British government, which has already called a moratorium on the manufacture and export of the devices, is committed to signing the accord. International development junior British minister George Foulkes also said that a ban on the manufacture, export and use of anti-personnel landmines would be an appropriate memorial to Diana, who campaigned tirelessly on the issue. "She has brought the issue to prominence in a way no-one else could have done. Her aim was to get the countries of the world to sign up to the Ottawa process .... and make what was her dream become a reality.," Foulkes said.

The Honourable Diana Frances Spencer was born late on the afternoon of 01 July 1961, at Park House, Sandringham, close to the great Norfolk house which had been a retreat of the Royal Family since the days of Edward V11. Diana, the Princess of Wales and the "Saintly Queen of Peoples' Hearts" died around 4am in a Paris hospital (Salpetriere) on Sunday 31 August 1997 hours after a fatal car crash. She had two sons, Crown Prince William Arthur Philip Louis (born 21 June 1982) and Prince Henry Charles Albert David (born 15 September 1984). Her public funeral will be televised by hundreds of satellite and cable tv outlets from 11am on Saturday 06 September 1997 to an estimated worldwide audience of two billion by satellite-cable tv links.

Her progress from popular idol to saint, achieved through her remarkable personal warmth as comforter of the sick, the dying and the needy, was not easy for politicians in the UK and the US. Diana paid homage to the British Labour government earlier this month for its stance on anti-personnel mines, referred to its predecessor (the Conservatives) as "hopeless". She was later forced to deny attacking the Conservatives on the landmines issue. The article in the French newspaper 'Le Monde' recalled how, in her interview with Annick Cojean, Diana slammed the British press, describing it as ferocious, and told how she could not leave Britain because of her sons. "The press is ferocious," she was quoted as saying. "It pardons nothing. It only hunts for mistakes. Every motive is twisted, every gesture criticised". The politicians lablled her "loose cannon", "wild card" and "uncontrollable" but she continued to maintain her extraordinary hold on public sympathy and affection. Diana insisted that her interest in the issue was purely humanitarian.

The French journalist who conducted one of the last interviews with Princess Diana praised her as a great personality and said many people may now regret not taking her more seriously. "She was not afraid of showing compassion and we talked about that," Annick Cojean of the French daily newspaper Le Monde said. She quoted the princess saying the previous British government's policy on a a global ban on landmines, a cause close to Diana's heart, was "hopeless". "She told me how important it was to touch people of any age. She said at any step in their lives, people want to have someone feeling close to them," Cojean added. During the interview Cojean said Diana spoke of her father and told how the late Earl Spencer had advised her to treat everyone as an equal. "She was a real character - a great personality. She was full of charm, she was full of courage, she was full of dignity and compassion," Cojean said. "She had a lot to say and I am sure a lot of people may now regret not taking her more seriously".

British Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles are deeply shocked and distressed by the death of Princess Diana. Lord Robert Runcie, the former head of the Church of England who married Diana and Charles in 1981 and also baptised their two children, spoke of her kind heart. "She was a woman of great compassion. She was always thoughtful, always watchful," he said.

Diana won worldwide acclaim for her espousal of the cause of Aids victims, doing much to dispel the common belief that social contacts, such as shaking hands, could spread the disease. For 16 years Princess Diana was the focus of thousands of cameras as she turned from a blushing ingenue into one of the world's most elegant women. "She was undoubtedly one of the world's most popular as well as the most photographed of women, and the loyalty of her affectionate and admiring public survived the descent from princely wedding to drawn-out drama of domestic strife. Her presence electrified crowds. In Britain, she had only to shed a few tears in public for the nation to be at her feet," the source said.

Patients in London hospitals occasionally woke during the small hours of the night to find Diana, the "Saintly Queen of Peoples' Hearts", in a baseball cap beside their beds. She made regular, secret ward rounds to comfort the sick and dying. Diana was associated with upto 150 charities in all, and was patron or president of upto 69 charities in the UK and 12 overseas, some of them quite small. These included Relate, Help the Aged, British Red Cross, Barnardo's the British Lung Foundation, National Aids Trust, Centrepoint, Turning Point, Foundation for Conductive Education, the Serpentine Gallery in London and Ty-Hafan children's hospice. British public interest in the royal British Windsors' antics waxed and waned, but Diana managed to keep the balance of sympathy in her favour.

At nine years old, Diana went to Riddlesworth Hall, a boarding school near Diss in Norfolk. Even at the best of times, school was not an institution in which Diana would shine, at least not academically. She failed all her 'O' levels, even at the second taking and so left school at 16. After a spell in at the 'Institut Alpin Videmanette' finishing school in Switzerland, Diana worked for well-heeled friends, cleaning floors for one pound sterling (US$1.6) per hour, serving canapes at cocktail parties and acting as nanny. Then she became an assistant at the Young England kindergarten in Pimlico. Her engagement to British crown prince Charles was announced in February 1981. Their wedding on 29 July 1981 at St Paul's Cathedral in London was a fairytale occasion on which it seemed the hopes of the nation - and the future of the monarchy - depended. At the time she was 20, he was 32. She was the first English woman to marry an heir to the throne for over 300 years. In February 1996, three years after the separation, the Diana brokered the final terms of a deal at a tea-time summit alone with her husband in the prince's apartment at St James's Palace in central London. On 28 August 1996, Charles and Diana were granted a decree absolute ending their 15-year marriage.

British Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku said: "She was well loved and admired across the Commonwealth and was emerging as a potent symbol of our common humanity in her evident commitment to others less fortunate than herself". The United Nations said the world had lost an important ambassador. "It is a tragic loss. Her commitment and dedication to a ban on anti-personnel mines brought the issue home to millions around the world," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said.

German President Roman Herzog said: "With her personal charisma, her courage and above all her impressive engagement in an array of humanitarian causes she won over the people in our country".

Australian prime minister John Howard expressed shock at the death of Princess Diana."The death ... sadden Australians," Howard said in a statement. "It has ended, at a young age, the life of a person who held a particular fascination for many people around the world," Howard said.

Dodi Fayed's father, Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed, said the deaths were "appalling and quite needless". He added: "The world has lost a princess who is simply irreplaceable". Al Fayed heard of his son's death before he left his home in Surrey by helicopter to fly to Paris. Dodi, 41, had known the princess for more than 10 years and they became close when the two families had a happy holiday together last month (July 1997). The accident in which they died around 00:35am on Sunday (31-8-1997) in Paris happened when their car was being pursued by press photographers on motor bikes or motorcycles. Dodi was buried near Guildford in Surrey after prayers at a Muslim mosque in central London.

Egyptian-born Mohamed Al Fayed is one of the most controversial men in British public life. He contributed to the election defeat of Britain's former Conservative government with his allegations that senior politicians took money from him to ask questions in parliament.

Diana and Dodi had been the focus of frenzied media attention for the past six weeks. British foreign secretary Robin Cook said: "in the next few days, her family and the nation must have time to come to terms with this immense loss. It will be doubly tragic if it does emerge that this accident was in part caused by the persistent hounding of the princess and her privacy by photographers". Cook has been a stout supporter of Diana's work for a worldwide ban on anti-personnel landmines, defending her from accusations that she was improperly interfering in politics.

Britain's Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, said: "A dazzling light has gone out of public life. For the young especially, the Princess captured the mood of a generation. She had a natural rapport with the victims of today's world".

British prime minister Tony Blair said: "They liked her, they loved her, they regarded her as one of the people. She was the people's princess and that's how she will stay, how she will remain, in our hearts and in our memories forever. Diana was a wonderful, warm and compassionate person who people, not just in Britain, but throughout the world loved and will be mourned as a friend". Diana once said she wanted to be a sort of roving ambassador, 'a queen of people's hearts,' and Blair believed she should carry on her good works because "she earns a lot of respect and admiration. She was a wonderful and a warm human being and though her own life was often sadly touched by tragedy, she touched the lives of so many others in Britain and throughout the world with joy and with comfort. How many times shall we remember her in how many different ways with the sick, the dying, with children, with the needy? When with just a look or a gesture that spoke so much more than words she would reveal to all of us the depth of her compassion and of her humanity".

Mother Teresa, a friend of Diana, expressed sorrow over her death and said she and her missionary's nuns were praying for her. "Mother has heard the news and she is very sorry. She is praying for her and we all are praying for her," Missionaries of Charity, the Roman Catholic nun's religious order in the eastern Indian city of Calcutta, said.

Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif, opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan expressed their grief. Sharif said: "I am saddened by her death at such an age". Former prime minister Bhutto also voiced her sorrow. "The princess's contributions to alleviate the sufferings and misery of the poor, the sick and the destitute had endeared her to millions throughout the world," Bhutto said. "The death is indeed tragic and sad that such a promising and endearing person whose life was dedicated to humanitarian causes, should have been cut down so abruptly," she added.

Imran Khan, former Pakistani cricket hero and a friend of the Princess, said: "I am deeply shocked and grieved". Khan, who invited Diana to Pakistan two months ago to help an appeal for his charity cancer hospital, 'Shaukat Khanum Hospital', in the eastern city of Lahore, said: "This world has very few people like Diana who work so devotedly for the well being of the poor, deprived and down-trodden people. There was hardly any non-Muslim who worked in a Muslim country with as much devotion and dedication which Diana demonstrated for the sick and poor in Pakistan. Her death is not only a horrific loss for the British Royal family but also for the suffering humanity in the entire world". Diana had visited Pakistan twice in the past 18 months as guest of Imran and Jemima, daughter of the late Anglo-French financier Sir James Goldsmith. On both occasions she visited Imran's cancer hospital and attended fund-raising functions.

Indian prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral also expressed deep shock at Diana's death. "Her humanitarian concern and activities had won her world-wide admiration," Gujral said.

US president Bill Clinton said that he and his wife Hillary were "profoundly saddened" by the death of Diana. "Hillary and I knew Princess Diana and we were very fond of her," Clinton said.

French President Jacques Chirac said: "She was a young woman of our age, warm, full of life and generosity". British television presenter Esther Rantzen, who founded the charity 'ChildLine' said: "She gave us personal donations when we started. She was in there right at the beginning. She met deprived children so often in private and she also made many public visits to promote our work to protect children," Rantzen said. Roger Singleton, chief executive of children's charity Barnado's, said Diana had an "enormous capacity for listening to people" whose lives were an uphill struggle. "I meet people who still talk about meeting her years ago. She made a genuine difference to people's lives".

"Diana leaves a magnificent legacy of love and concern for people at the margins of society, not only here but also throughout the world. "She was an extraordinary companion to people in distress. The world is a poorer place," without her Cardinal Thomas Winning, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said.

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said of Diana: "I knew her as a very sensitive, at times very amusing, lady who desperately wanted to make a difference in this world". Former Tory prime minister Baroness Thatcher said: "a beacon of light has been extinguished. Her good works brought hope to so many of those in need throughout the world". British Lord St John of Fawsley said it was for her "humanity" that Diana would be remembered. He added: "The tragedy of the Princess of Wales' untimely death is that it has deprived us of a great human person who had a charismatic gift for touching the heart and emotions of people throughout the world, the vast majority of whom had never met her. She had a charismatic gift of healing of which she was well aware and which she used devotedly and intelligently to help other people. All her great gifts, her capacity for love, her charity, her concern were directed towards helping suffering members of the human race. For this she will be remembered". Former Tory prime minister Ted Heath said: "People throughout the world will feel the loss of her compassion and her courage in dealing with their problems".

Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party, paid tribute to Diana's "common touch", adding that "she had enemies in the establishment, and perhaps in death they will now accord her some of the respect and compassion which they refused her in life". The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey said: "The world has lost a vibrant, lovely young person. The word passion seems to sum her up, commitment, to issues, to causes. She was a deeply religious person in the sense that she cared about people. She didn't associate with institutional Christianity. There was faith in her whole personality".

Irish President Mary Robinson said that Diana had "shown a deep sense of compassion to those less fortunate in our society". Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said that she had "won the hearts of the Irish people through her commitment and work on behalf of so many charities and international causes throughout the world". South African President Nelson Mandela said: "She was undoubtedly one of the best ambassadors of Great Britain. I found her very grateful, highly intelligent and committed to worthy causes and was tremendously impressed by her warmness".

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "she captured the imagination of millions throughout the world with her dedication to her children and to innumerable worthy causes".

Diana's friend Rosa Monckton said that Diana "did everything from the heart. Her heart ruled her head which is why, I think, she was so often misunderstood," and talked "about things that mattered". Welsh Secretary Ron Davies said: "She worked so hard for the dispossessed and those in need". The Wales Council of the European Movement said: "Diana was a beacon for peace and internationalism. As Princess of Wales she is simply irreplaceable and will be sorely missed by many millions all over the world".

Michael Jack, former British home minister responsible for the voluntary sector, called for the creation of a "Diana Day" which would be used to raise funds for the Princess's favourite charities. He said the Princess would have approved of the idea. "A Diana Day would be a wonderful way of marking her charitable work and would keep alive her memory in a very practical way," the former Tory minister and Fylde MP said. The idea came from his 15-year-old son Oliver, he said. "It would be a very good idea if in future this tragic day might be marked by what would be called a Diana Day. An organisation would be founded to make this a day for charitable donations which could then go to the causes for which Diana worked so hard. It would inspire others and it is an idea I am sure she would have approved of," he said.

ends Presented by: Shanti RTV (c) 01 September 1997

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