In the 1980s, the television viewing public was used to waiting in anticipation to see what striking fashion ensemble Princess Diana would wear to her next outing.
But on one particular day in 1987, there was one accessory everyone was looking out for: her gloves.
In an interview with People Magazine, Diana’s brother Charles, 9th Earl Spencer, has given insight into a landmark gesture the Princess made when she opened the HIV/AIDS unit at London Middlesex Hospital, the first of its kind to exclusively care for people suffering from the illness.
30 years ago this week, Princess Diana shook hands with an AIDS sufferer, a major moment in combating misconceptions about HIV and AIDS: pic.twitter.com/sOKvTMYKQF
— Joel Lawson (@JoelLawsonDC) April 5, 2017
As she was introduced to patients, the People’s Princess reached out her bare hand to greet a man suffering from AIDS. She was not wearing gloves.
Her very public act challenged a deeply ingrained stigma that HIV and AIDS could be contracted via skin-to-skin contact.
“She was not really a gloves person,” Charles said.
“She was very real and very about human contact. And what really mattered that day was to get across a very clear message that, ‘I’m going to touch this gentleman — and you can all exist in a community with people who are suffering, and we must help.”