“She was very concerned for the poor. She was very anxious to do something for them, and it was beautiful. That is why she was close to me.”
(Mother Teresa, in a condolence note written after the death of Princess Diana.)
Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. On the surface, the two women could not be more dissimilar.
Mother Teresa had taken an austere vow of poverty, chastity, obedience. The nun lived simply and personally owned almost nothing. Mother Teresa was elderly, short, modest, wrinkled, and living in one of the poorest places on Earth. She began her life of charity at the age of 36
Princess Diana was young, tall, glamorous and a media darling. The Princess of Wales was arguably the most famous woman in the world. Diana was a free spirit, famous for her fabulous wardrobe and jewelry and was often photographed with handsome men in some of the world’s most glamorous locations. Diana, Princess of Wales, died at age 36. That was the exact same age Mother Teresa began her ministry.
And the two of them, the nun and the princess, were friends. Real friends. They met each other in New York, India, and Rome. Each respected, admired, and trusted one another. Mother Teresa utilized her compassion for the poor to change their lives and raise the consciousness of the world. Meanwhile, Princess Diana used her immense fame to focus media attention on the need to treat the poor with compassion and respect. Their missions in life did not need to be identical for each to be respected and honored for caring so deeply about the least fortunate members of society.
After Diana’s death, a charitable foundation was begun in her name.
The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund raised $200 million dollars and each of their initiatives would make Mother Teresa smile. The fund focused on the poorest, sickest and most forgotten members of society.
- The Palliative Care Initiative (Helping those in Africa with AIDS)
- The Refugee and Asylum Seekers Initiative
- The Cluster Munitions Initiative (To save children from land mines)
- The Penal Reform Initiative
Obviously, it is impossible to know what Diana might have accomplished had she not been killed so very young. If she were alive today, she would still be younger than Mother Teresa was when the two of them first met! Mother Teresa died at age 87, just six days after the tragic death of Princess Diana. Many people complained that her death did not receive the same level of attention despite her amazing accomplishments and inspiring example of compassion and dedication. There may be truth to that complaint, but I choose to focus instead on how Princess Diana and Mother Teresa – two very different women – used their God-given talents to make the world a better place.
We would all do well to follow their examples. Like Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, we should all go out of our way to make friends with people from different backgrounds, treat others with compassion, and use our own unique abilities to make the world a better place.