On This Day: The death of Princess Diana, a campaigner to the very end

Undated file photo of Diana, Princess of Wales. The jury in the Diana, Princess of Wales inquest today returned a verdict of unlawful killing through negligent driving of both the Mercedes and the following vehicles.
Princess Diana: 1 July, 1961 – 31 August, 1997. (PA)

Given the tragic nature of her death on this day 26 years ago, it's often forgotten that Princess Diana was a campaigner to the very end.

Just three weeks before she died, in what turned out to be her final overseas tour, Diana, Princess of Wales paid a three-day visit to Bosnia.

It was part of her crusade to outlaw landmines, with the princess meeting victims of the weapons in the wake of the country's brutal civil war earlier in the decade.

One victim, Malic Bradaric (pictured below), told AP on the 20th anniversary of her death in 2017 that Diana was “a light at the end of the tunnel” following his ordeal, in which he lost most of his right leg in 1996 when aged 13.

Diana, Princess of Wales sits with mine victim, Malic Bradoric, 14, (R) who is a Muslim, and fellow mine victim Zarco Beric, 12, a Serb during Diana's visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina August 9. Diana is in Bosnia and Herzegovina until Sunday.
Princess Diana with landmine victims Zarco Beric and Malic Bradaric on 9 August, 1997. Bradaric said 20 years later her visit to Bosnia was 'a light at the end of the tunnel'. (Reuters)
PA NEWS : 15/1/97 : DIANA, PRINCESS OF WALES, WEARS A PROTECTIVE MASK AND JACKET AS SHE STANDS NEXT TO A WARNING SIGN ON THE EDGE OF A MINEFIELD IN ANGOLA, DURING HER VISIT TO SEE THE WORK OF THE BRITISH RED CROSS. (PHOTO BY JOHN STILLWELL ). Clare Short, struck a similar pose when she stood in the midst of a mock-up mine field on Brighton Beach as part of the Government's heightened campaign to ban landmines which was announced during the Labour Party Conference. See PA story LABOUR Landmines.   The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which came to prominence following the Princess's death, and campaign coordinator Jody Williams were awarded the Nobel Peace prize on 10/10/97. See PA story NOBEL Mines.   Photo by John Stillwell/PA  The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, called on the US and British governments to halt the use of cluster bombing in Afghanistan. The fund's chief executive, Andrew Purkis, warned that the weapons, recently deployed against Taliban forces on the front line with the Northern Alliance, represented a serious long-term threat to civilians, similar to that posed by landmines.   (Photo by John Stillwell - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Princess Diana on the edge of a minefield in Angola in January 1997. (PA Images via Getty Images)

The Bosnia trip followed a similar visit to Angola earlier that year, in which Diana met landmine casualties from its 20-year civil war.

Her campaigning with the British Red Cross contributed to the signing of an international treaty to ban the military weapons at the end of 1997.

Diana, of course, never saw her work come to fruition as she died in Paris three weeks after the Bosnia trip.

Watch: Princess Diana's incredible legacy remembered

The princess, who was also famous for her campaigning work breaking the stigma surrounding HIV and Aids patients, and championing the homeless, died in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997.

The Mercedes she was travelling in with her lover Dodi Fayed – she had divorced Prince Charles in 1996 – was being pursued by paparazzi after leaving the Ritz Hotel in the French capital.

It crashed in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel while being driven by chauffeur Henri Paul, who was drunk and driving too fast.

File picture dated 2.9.97 of the sea of flowers outside the gates of Kensington Palace where thousands of mourners from across Britain and the world payed their last respects to Diana, Princess of Wales. The committee set up to decide on ways to mark the life of Diana, Pricess of Wales today (Wednesday) backed a memorial garden at Kensington Palace. Other key proposals are for a 5 pound coin and nursing teams for children.
A sea of flowers outside the gates of Kensington Palace following the death of Princess Diana. (PA)
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry and the Prince of Wales follow the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales in September 1997. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage)
The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince William, Earl Spencer, Prince Harry and the Prince of Wales follow the coffin of Diana on 6 September, 1997. (Getty Images)

She was 36. Her death prompted a national – and international – outpouring of grief.

A sea of flowers was left at the gates of Kensington Palace by stunned members of the public. On the day of her funeral, 6 September, hundreds of thousands of mourners gathered in central London.

A young Prince William and Prince Harry, then aged 15 and 12, walked behind their mother’s coffin as it proceeded through the streets on its way to Westminster Abbey.

File photo dated 18/06/97 of Diana, Princess of Wales arriving at the Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington to attend a gala dinner for landmine victims. A British Red Cross branch president has recalled how the princess shared her plans for a night at home. Issue date: Thursday July 1, 2021.
Princess Diana pictured in June 1997. (PA)

Even 26 years after her death, Diana remains hugely relevant. Do a quick Google search of her name and a catalogue of news stories will appear.

It's appropriate, then, that a statue was specially opened two years ago for well-wishers to mark the anniversary of her death since the long-awaited memorial was unveiled.

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The bronze tribute was finally revealed by William and Harry together – despite their troubled relationship – at a ceremony on 1 July 2021, on what would have been their mother’s 60th birthday.

Watch: William and Harry unveil Diana statue at Kensington Palace