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Diana, Princess of Wales - TLM Hero

Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing pink and holding a bouquet of flowers, visits TLM's Anandaban hospital in Nepal

In November 1989, the world’s most famous woman made life-changing headlines during a visit to Sitanala Leprosy Hospital in Indonesia. When Princess Diana touched a person affected by leprosy, it changed how the world viewed the disease. Diana knew her actions came with little risk; she was there to use her power to challenge the world’s prejudice, and highlight the need for support.

This revolutionary decision mirrored one she had made a few years earlier, when she spent time with similarly ostracised HIV/AIDS patients. Diana saw past the stigma and misinformation to the facts and the human beings affected; inspiring others to do the same.

In that moment, everything changed for people affected by leprosy and the cause to eradicate it. Staff working at the hospitals say these visits had an unquantifiable ripple effect. For people who feared in their hearts they had leprosy but could not face the shame of going to a leprosy hospital, suddenly it was okay… an English princess had been there.

Soon after that moment in India, Diana became Patron of The Leprosy Mission, remaining in post until her untimely death in 1997.