Prince Harry Praised Princess Diana's Work Towards Destigmatizing HIV

He spoke to Tackle HIV founder Gareth Thomas.

Prince Harry wearing the uniform of the Parachute Regiment of the British Army in the garden of Highgrove House in Gloucestershire, 18th July 1986. He is accompanied by his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales
(Image credit: Getty/Tim Graham)

Prince Harry joined Gareth Thomas, a former Welsh rugby player who is HIV-positive, on a Zoom call to discuss the stigma that still exists around HIV, and mark 35 years since Princess Diana opened the first HIV/AIDS unit at the Middlesex Hospital in London.

Reflecting on his mother's work, the Duke of Sussex said, "What my mum did, and what so many other people did at that time, was to smash that... wall down, to kick the door open, to 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.'

"And that kind of made people feel a little bit... uncomfortable to start with. But stigma thrives on silence. We know that. So there's always going to be people or groups, or other organizations who may have agendas to try and keep this out of the conversation, but what my mom started all those years ago was creating empathy and understanding... but also curiosity, and I think that was really powerful."

Through her work—including the famous photos of her shaking hands with HIV patients—the Princess of Wales helped society move away from judgment and towards more compassion.

Princess Diana Shaking Hands With One Of The Residents Of Casey House, An Aids Hospice, In Toronto, Canada

(Image credit: Getty/Tim Graham)

Today, though stigma still of course exists around HIV, the conversation has greatly opened up since the '80s and '90s. Alongside that level of destigmatization, medicine has progressed significantly so that people can now live a full life while being HIV-positive. What's for certain is that we continue to need conversations like this one between the duke and Thomas. Listen to the full episode here.

It's not the first time Prince Harry has done his best to honor his mother's legacy when it comes to AIDS advocacy: On World AIDS Day in December, the duke wrote a letter to honor those whose lives were affected by the virus and thank those who have helped advance research, on behalf of the late princess.

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Bustle and Shape. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.