Two nights ago, I couldn’t sleep. I don’t watch a lot of television, but that night, I watched a movie with my kids, then got caught up in another, and then, finally, landed on HBO and watched Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, the documentary about Princess Diana as told by her two sons, William and Harry.
To be clear about my affinity for this woman I must tell you a couple of things. First, I had my hair cut like her iconic hair for my own wedding. Second, she was only a few years older than I am, and she was our contemporary role model in almost every way. And third, her sense of style, candor, kindness, and humor were always appealing to me. Sadly, she lived a fairy tale that became a complete nightmare, and her death was shocking and came way too early in her life. Her life ended in a dark, Shakespearean tragedy, and the world mourned her loss—and I believe it still does. I’m still mad at the media for chasing her through that tunnel, but that’s a post for another time. Today, it’s about the inspiration Diana has left us with, even today.
What was nice about watching the documentary by her sons is that we got to hear their memories of their mother. I loved when Harry recounted her laugh—and called it infectious—and then we see her on a water ride at an amusement park going down a hill with Harry and William and see her laughing. It reminds us all that what we do with our kids and how we act will always be something they remember about us when we are no longer here.
William talked about how, at the age of 12, Diana took him to a homeless shelter, and that that one push to go there and talk and listen to people instilled a kindness in him that he continues today by visiting often. He spoke of her ability to reach out and touch people, whether it was those in the shelter, those with AIDS, or those with an ailment or disability, Diana knew how to make people feel loved.
One of her greatest quotes is this one:
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana
I believe this is so true. It is something that I have done and try to live by in my life, and I am sure it inspires you, too. Sometimes we just help people because it’s the right thing to do—and we shouldn’t expect anything in return.
Her other fantastic quote that I wholeheartedly agree with is this one:
“When you are happy you can forgive a great deal.” – Princess Diana
I believe this is so true, also. Sometimes you just have to rise above it, forgive, and move on, and I know this is not always easy. These words encourage me to find that place in me where forgiveness is possible. And being happy is a great place to start.
Overall, the HBO special reminds us of the power of a person. When they say someone can change the world, it’s true. Hearing the memories of Diana by her sons and people who knew her reminded me of the impact she had on people’s lives, even though her life ended much too early. Nevertheless, she continues to inspire me, along with countless others, and probably always will.
Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of Inn Significant, Baseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree. Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.