17. Diana, Princess of Wales
Though some denigrate her for being born with a silver spoon, as the saying goes, Princess Diana inspired many during her short life, and admiration for her continued well after her untimely death. Diana used her celebrity to advocate for animal rights and raised public awareness of the dangers posed by landmines. As a patroness of the British Red Cross Diana made weekly visits to Royal Brompton Hospital, comforting the terminally ill. She helped found a charity for children who lost their parents, Children Bereavement UK, and served as its Royal Patron. Her son Prince William assumed the role following the death of his mother.
Following her divorce from the Prince of Wales, Diana resigned her patronages of over 100 charities, an indication of the depth of her involvement in charitable work during her marriage. In June, 1997, Diana donated a large portion of her wardrobe for sale through auctions at Christie’s in London and New York. The proceeds from the sale went to the Center for Disability and the Arts in Leicester, a charity founded by Diana and her friend, actor and filmmaker Richard Attenborough. Diana was heavily involved in charities and foundations battling the HIV/AIDS epidemic during the 1990s, working to educate the public and reduce the social stigma associated with the disease. She visited leprosy hospitals, worked to educate the public about breast cancer, and earned the respect and admiration of medical professionals and politicians around the world, as well as the love of the common people.