Celebrating Diana Songs of Praise


Celebrating Diana

To mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Songs of Praise celebrates how she broke down barriers through her amazing charity work.


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Transcript


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Today I'm in this specially created garden here at Kensington Palace,

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former home of Diana, Princess of Wales,

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to celebrate how she broke down barriers

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with her remarkable charity work.

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Welcome to Songs Of Praise.

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On the programme this week, Pam Rhodes meets a mum

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who remembers the day Diana met her son

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who was dying of AIDS.

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She oozed love and compassion.

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We hear from the man who accompanied the Princess of Wales

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on her inspirational land-mine trip to Angola.

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I think she had a stronger faith than people gave her credit for.

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And in Kathmandu, Sally Magnusson discovers the impact Diana made

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by shaking hands with leprosy patients.

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She showed a real love of God to the people

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by touching them and comforting them.

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Kensington Palace was Princess Diana's home for many, many years.

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Now, I remember coming here as a little boy

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and singing privately for the Princess

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in her own living room,

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an experience I'll never, ever forget.

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She was such a warm, witty and compassionate lady.

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Well, to celebrate Diana's legacy,

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our music today comes from All Saints' Church in Northamptonshire,

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not far from the family's ancestral home in Althorp.

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And we begin with a hymn which was very much one of Diana's favourites.

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It was sung at both her wedding and her funeral.

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# I vow to thee, my country... #

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In 1997, the national outpouring of grief

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for Diana's untimely death was unprecedented,

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with the golden gates of Kensington Palace

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becoming a focus of remembrance.

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There was the famous sea of flowers here at Kensington Palace.

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There were candles lit, poems written, books of condolences.

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-Diana was seen as very much a force for good, wasn't she?

-Very much so.

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She was, of course, a great humanitarian.

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Very compassionate towards vulnerable members of society,

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and incredibly caring, really wanted to help people.

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And, of course, that absolutely reflects very Christian values too.

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What's she feeding this young man on? He weighs a tonne!

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One man who was often at her side during her charitable work

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with the HALO Trust and the Red Cross was Mike Whitlam.

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How does it feel coming back here to Kensington Palace?

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It feels very strange coming back,

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because I haven't been here for a long time.

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-You used to come all the time.

-All the time.

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I would come here in the evening

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for a drink, a cup of tea,

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just to sit and chat in the peace and quiet of her apartment.

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I feel honoured to have been a friend of hers,

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and I think she felt I was a friend.

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And we both wanted to change the world.

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-And she did.

-She did. Absolutely.

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One of the most iconic photos

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I suppose I remember of her time was in Angola with that vest.

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-Amazing.

-It was.

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And she wasn't frightened of going to see the land mines,

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of walking across a minefield.

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But she was determined, and knew the impact that would have.

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-And it had an impact all over the world.

-Yes, it did.

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Without question. It was in every newspaper

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and every news bulletin across the world.

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She wanted to make a huge difference to those people

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who didn't have food,

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who were unwell,

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and she was prepared to do almost anything to make that happen.

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You must have had quite a few correspondence with Diana.

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Yes, she was very good at writing and exchanging letters.

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In fact, I think I've got one with me.

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It's not typed by her press secretary or anything.

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I recognise her writing, yeah.

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"Dear Mike, I was so touched to receive your lovely letter.

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"Thank you for writing.

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"And I just wanted you to know

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"how deeply I appreciated your kindness.

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"With my best wishes, yours sincerely, Diana."

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Yeah.

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Mike, you must have had quite a few requests to talk to you

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-20 years after Diana passed away.

-I did.

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I've had lots of phone calls, but I didn't want to do them this time.

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But this particular programme interested me because

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I think she had a stronger faith than people gave her credit for.

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-Right.

-We never discussed it at length, but the fact,

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just before she died,

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that she'd made a special trip from Washington to New York

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to go and see Mother Teresa,

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I think made me feel, yes,

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this is what's kept you going.

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This is how you've managed to do what you wanted to do.

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The funeral must have been incredibly emotional for you.

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It was.

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I flew back from New York especially for the funeral,

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and just the atmosphere, the silence,

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-the peace and the quiet outside in London was just...

-Yeah.

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Well, it made it even harder to cope with.

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One of the hymns chosen at her funeral,

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Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace,

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seems to sum up what she was about, really.

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I think that's true, actually.

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I mean, she wanted to put love where there was hatred,

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and make a huge difference to people's lives

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so that they could live a better life.

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And when you talk to people

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about trying to make the world a better place,

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there are not many people who will say, "Yes, it's doable."

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She did.

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She was absolutely certain.

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# Make me a channel of your peace... #

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Whilst Diana enjoyed the privileges of a royal princess,

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she was determined to speak out about social issues,

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supporting more than 100 charities.

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Diana wanted to make a practical difference

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to those on the margins, and her impact and legacy still lives on,

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as Pam Rhodes has been discovering.

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Back in the 1980s and early 1990s,

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some of the most marginalised in society

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were those who were diagnosed with HIV.

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There is now a danger that has become a threat to us all.

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It is a deadly disease and there is no known cure.

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There was so much fear and stigma surrounding AIDS

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that, often, people affected, and their families,

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just suffered in silence.

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Frances Elliston experienced first-hand

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the extent of the prejudice

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when her son Kevin was diagnosed with AIDS.

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You get into conversation, "I'm going to visit my son."

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"What's wrong with him?" "Well, he's got AIDS."

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Oh, no, you didn't do that in them days.

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You didn't do that.

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I was too scared to do it, actually.

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Diana's decision to champion people with this devastating illness

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was to have a far-reaching impact on patients and their families.

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Kevin met Diana when he was admitted

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to the Mildmay Hospital in East London,

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a Christian charity founded over 150 years ago.

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In 1988, it became the first AIDS hospice in Europe.

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Julian La Batiste was a nurse at that time.

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With all the prejudice and fear about AIDS,

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how did that affect people who were suffering?

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It was immense.

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There were people losing their jobs, they lost their housing,

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they lost their families.

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Barbers wouldn't cut their hair.

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People wouldn't use the same cutlery, crockery.

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It was... Yeah, it was really shocking.

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-Was it ever violent?

-Yes.

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People were beaten up, people had stones thrown at their windows.

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We even had a few thrown at this building.

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And into that backdrop came Princess Diana.

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I mean, that must have been quite something at the time.

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Well, it was trailblazing at that time, and immensely brave.

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And it meant a lot, not just to the patients in the hospital

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but nearly everybody with HIV.

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Diana visited the hospice twice,

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and in 1991 she met Kevin and Frances.

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She held his hands for quite a while.

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You know, they talked for a while before she let go.

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These were patients that had been stigmatised

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and here was someone coming along and saying, "You are valued."

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She actually broke it down to

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it's about one person being ill -

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it's not about what that illness is called.

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And I think it broke this barrier

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that you could discuss HIV.

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It was an illness like any other illness.

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With the patients she was just so caring, wanting to understand,

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wanting to listen, wanting to know what their story was.

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It was almost like her empathy was shining through her all the time.

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What do you think was so special about Diana?

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She oozed love and compassion.

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That's the only way I can explain.

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And I know that's exactly how Kevin felt.

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In 1994, Kevin passed away with his mum by his side.

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He called me. He said, "Mum, Mum..."

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And I held his hand then.

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I said, "Come on."

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"Go on, take your journey, Kev."

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And he closed his eyes...

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..and said, "Goodbye, Mum."

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Ooh, I can feel it now.

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I like to think the good Lord is holding his hand and saying,

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"Your mother's down there..."

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"..talking about you."

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# The king of love my shepherd is... #

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Diana didn't speak publicly about her personal faith,

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but we've been reliably informed that our next hymn

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was one of her favourites,

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and it seems especially appropriate in this anniversary year.

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# Breathe on me, breath of God... #

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On the 20th anniversary of Diana's death,

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she's still missed, remembered and celebrated across the world.

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Sally Magnusson has travelled to a leprosy hospital in Nepal

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to meet staff and patients there

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who still recall the difference Diana made to them.

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I'm in the foothills of the Himalaya,

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journeying to a Christian leprosy hospital above Kathmandu

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which Diana, Princess of Wales, visited in 1993.

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-Hi, welcome.

-Namaste.

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Namaste. Pleased to meet you.

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-Thank you very much.

-Please come.

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What impact did Diana have on her visit?

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She showed a real love of God to the people.

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She touched their disfigured hands and feet.

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-And that was astonishing at the time, wasn't it?

-Yeah.

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Because what she was showing with this very simple gesture

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is that leprosy was no longer infectious.

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You know, the medicine was available at that time,

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but the main issue was stigma,

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which was one of the main hindrances, obstacles,

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to let the people come out freely to receive the treatment.

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The memory of how Diana broke down barriers is still very much alive

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here at the hospital.

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I'm on my way to meet the patient who was photographed with her.

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Buddhi Bahadur was just 24 when he met the Princess of Wales.

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Were you surprised when Princess Diana reached across

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and shook your hand?

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HE SPEAKS IN LOCAL LANGUAGE

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-TRANSLATION:

-I was very happy, because we are rural people

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and no-one had done that,

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so it was a wonderful privilege for me

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to shake hands with a person with a high reputation.

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Did that have an effect on the way that people treated you afterwards?

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People started to accept me more.

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How is your leprosy now? Are you cured?

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I got an operation and I have been cured.

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Diana did help break down the stigma surrounding leprosy,

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but here in Nepal it continues to cause problems.

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-She lived in a cave in the jungle.

-A cave?

-Yeah, a cave, in the jungle.

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For the last eight years.

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And it's because she has leprosy, and because of the leprosy

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she was kicked out by family from her house

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and also by the community.

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Is that common?

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It's not very common

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but we see, from time to time, these kinds of stories in Nepal.

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-And it's because of the stigma?

-Because of the stigma of leprosy.

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And what's been the effect?

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So her hands and feet are affected by leprosy

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because it was late treated.

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She says she has been with this problem for the last 28 years,

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and only three years ago she got treatment for this.

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The earlier patients receive medication and corrective surgery,

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the better.

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13-year-old Alicia

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is going to have an operation on her left hand this afternoon.

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-I can see that this hand still needs correction...

-Yeah.

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..but this one is healed?

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This one is operated, so as you see here, this one is paralysed.

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So she cannot use that hand for normal life,

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using like grip, pins also, or hold something.

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HE SPEAKS IN LOCAL LANGUAGE

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-So her thumb doesn't go to other fingers like we can do.

-Mm.

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But here - this is the operated hand already - she can use that.

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HE SPEAKS IN LOCAL LANGUAGE

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So even her two little fingers, she can use it.

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Corrective surgery really can help.

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We'll let you get on with your operation, Alicia. All the best.

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Christianity is fundamental

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to the work here at this charity hospital here in Nepal,

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and it's very moving to witness staff and patients

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gathering together to worship, which they do most days.

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Our next hymn is Praise, My Soul, The King Of Heaven.

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# Praise, my soul The king of heaven... #

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The historic sunken garden of Kensington Palace

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has been newly designed by Sean Harkin

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to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Diana's death.

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Renamed The White Garden, it's open to the public

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until the end of the year.

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-Sean, how are you?

-Hey. Good, thank you.

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-Hard at it, I see.

-Yeah.

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-I've got to say, you should be so proud. It looks amazing.

-Thank you.

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The planting idea came from wanting to create something

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which was very simple and elegant,

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but also something that was joyful and exuberant,

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and hopefully give people that feeling of, kind of, joy

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that Princess Diana brought.

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-Did you get any suggestions as to what flowers to use?

-Yeah, we did.

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We wanted to include certain flowers that were Diana's favourites

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-or were special to Diana.

-Right.

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So in the springtime it started as a carpet of white forget-me-nots.

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There's a lovely story of Earl Spencer

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giving a young Princess Diana forget-me-nots.

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She really liked white roses, for instance,

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so that's why we've got these large terracotta pots

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surrounding the reflective pond in the centre,

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which has these gorgeous creamy and white, very simple roses.

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Did she use this garden at all?

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Yeah, there's lovely stories that the gardeners who were based here,

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and her coming by jogging,

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and if it was quiet she would stop and she would have a chat with them

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and she would talk about what the planting scheme was looking like.

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The garden's very formal but we wanted the planting

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to be natural and have movement and energy to it.

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Absolutely, which is what she was like.

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She'd bound into the room and everyone would relax,

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everyone would smile.

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I suppose that's what you're getting from this garden as well.

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All the visitors dotted around, they're all smiling.

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I hope that they come to the garden and that they feel uplifted

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and have a sense of joy and happiness from it,

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but also it gives them a moment

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to reflect on Princess Diana's legacy here at Kensington.

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There's a line in the song I'm about to sing

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that I think sums up Diana just beautifully.

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Her presence was like a healing light for so many

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and, whoever you were, and wherever you are from,

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she made you feel special.

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# Deep peace of the running wave to you

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# Deep peace of the flowing air to you

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# Deep peace of the quiet earth to you

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# Deep peace of the shining stars to you

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# Deep peace of the gentle night to you

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# Moon and stars pour their healing light on you

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# Deep peace of Christ

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# Of Christ

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# The light of the world to you

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# Deep peace of Christ

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# To you

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# Deep peace of the running wave to you

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# Deep peace of the flowing air to you

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# Deep peace of the quiet earth to you

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# Deep peace of the shining stars to you

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# Deep peace of the gentle night to you

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# Moon and stars pour their healing light on you

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# Deep peace of Christ

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# Of Christ

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# The light of the world to you

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# Deep peace of Christ

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# To you. #

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Next week, Claire McCollum joins thousands of pilgrims

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to climb Ireland's holy mountain, Croagh Patrick.

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And Sean Fletcher visits the famous Knock Shrine.

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Diana's sons, Princes William and Harry,

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are continuing their mother's legacy,

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and our final hymn, sung to the uplifting Welsh tune Cwm Rhondda,

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was sung at the christening of each of her boys.

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It seems a fitting way to remember Diana, Princess of Wales.

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Until next time, bye-bye.

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# Guide me O thou great redeemer... #

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To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Songs of Praise celebrates how she broke down barriers through her amazing charity work and meets those who benefitted.

At the Mildmay HIV Hospital in London, Pam Rhodes talks to a nurse and the mother of a patient who Diana met before he died.

Sally Magnusson journeys to Nepal to discover the impact Diana made by shaking hands with patients who had leprosy, and Aled Jones takes a personal tour of the newly created memorial White Garden at Kensington Palace.


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