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DIANA: I Don’t Go By The Rule Book

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This month, we remember and pay homage to the late Princess Diana of Wales on her 59th birthday. Despite experiencing adverse challenges during her reign as a British Royal, Diana continued to shine in the spotlight with her inherent drive to give back selflessly. The masses resonated with her for who she was as a person, not for her status as a regal princess.

by Haider Rifaat 

 “I don’t go by the rule book. I lead from the heart, not the head.”

"Don't call me an icon. I'm just a mother trying to help." she once remarked. These words alone symbolize the kind of cultural impact Diana has had on the world. She held her stature and position in society soon after parting ways with the Royal family. She was born to lead and help the helpless – but didn’t exhibit these qualities for show. Diana has a magnanimous following to this day and many revere her for her unapologetic persona.

"The biggest disease in this day and age is that of people feeling unloved."

I have sheer respect for her empathetic outlook on life and people. Diana took time to invest in philanthropic work, not for the sake of it but because she wanted to. She was a pioneer of setting up United Kingdom’s first AIDS division. Her firm stance against landmines in Africa, empathy with children affected by polio and advocacy for homelessness and leprosy make her the icon she is today.

"I want my boys to have an understanding of people’s emotions, their insecurities, people’s distress, and their hopes and dreams."

Diana understood pain and suffering, and her mission was to make the world a better place. Her actions had a profound impact on society and how humans perceived humans. Although the act of empathy is lost on us today, Diana personified it during her rise. Her children, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William and Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry have extended their mother’s legacy through support for her causes.

"I like to be a free spirit. Some don't like that, but that's the way I am."

The past well establishes how Diana defied the norms of the Royal family. She is well known for being forthright but her chic and often unexpected fashion choices also made her a rebel. Ranging from polka dot patterns to formal off-shoulder gowns, signature stilettos, boots, athleisure and plaids, the list is endless! Diana donned many outfits by designer Catherine Walker, who she considered her favorite. There is not one fashion fad Diana has not tried and looked equally good in. A natural trendsetter, her classic style still stands the test of time and is unlike any other we have seen. Celebrities like Gigi Hadid, Rihanna, Emily Ratajkowski and even Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle have either made conscious or unconscious efforts to mimic Diana’s fashion.

We will forever remember her as a poise, kind and soft-spoken woman who stood her ground. She was the embodiment of what we expect women to be like. Decades have gone by, yet Diana reserves a special place in my heart, and a million others.

About Haider Rifaat: a writer for Arabian Moda, South China Morning Post, OK! Pakistan and Good Times magazine. He is an actor and also the creator and host of Pakistan's first web talk show - The Haider Rifaat Show. He can be reached via instagram and twitter.