Part of the late Princess Diana’s enduring legacy, decades after her untimely death, is her persona as “the people’s princess.” Former UK prime minister Tony Blair coined the nickname after her death in tribute to Diana’s relatability and humble nature, especially opening herself up to ostracized communities and advocating for them. Boy George, in his recently released autobiography, seems to agree, saying that Diana came through for him when “my reputation was ragged.”
In his new memoir Karma, which hit shelves on Tuesday, the iconic performer shared the story of meeting the princess in the late ‘80s. He came to an event and was told by the host, nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow, that Diana wanted to meet him. One problem: He wasn’t on the official guest list. At the time, he was making headlines for his struggle with heroin addiction. The former Culture Club frontman was “shooed away” by a palace official, he wrote, per People, and went to the bar to hang out.
All hope was not lost, however: Diana, “broke protocol and approached me,” Boy George writes. She complimented his outfit, which was covered in a myriad of safety pins, saying that it must have “taken forever.”
“I didn’t do it myself, love,” he joked back.
Diana also met Boy George’s mother, Dinah, and the two hit it off.
“They spent 10 minutes chatting,” he writes. “She told Mum I was a true survivor.”
In her life, Diana was an advocate for many social causes, but especially the gay community. By one account, in the late ‘80s Diana once disguised herself as a male model and crashed a gay bar with Queen frontman Freddie Mercury after a Golden Girls marathon. She was also loud in her support for HIV and AIDS treatment, working to lift the stigma around the disease. Famously, she very publicly shook hands with an AIDS patient in 1987 when she attended the opening of the UK’s first HIV/AIDS ward at London’s Middlesex Hospital. Her younger son, Prince Harry, has championed the cause as well, carrying on her legacy.
During National HIV Testing Week in the UK in 2022, Harry spoke of continuing his mother’s work on the issue.
“What my mom did, and what so many other people did at that time, was to smash that wall down. To kick the door open and say, ‘No. When people are suffering, then we need to learn more, and if there’s a stigma that’s playing such a large part of it, then what we really need to do is talk about it more,’” he said. “That kind of made people feel a little bit uncomfortable to start with. But stigma thrives on silence. We know that. What my mom started all those years ago was creating empathy and understanding…but also curiosity, which I think was really powerful.”
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