Princess Diana with a portrait of Dr Victor Chang

Diana,Princess of Wales

The late Diana, Princess of Wales is one of the world’s most loved and respected figures, famously remembered as the 'People’s Princess'

A cherished humanitarian, Princess Diana was celebrated for her involvement with multiple charity organisations throughout her life, as well as being a passionate advocate for heart research.

Princess Diana meeting Dr Siiri Iismaa during her tour of the Insitute's laboratories

In 1996, Diana, Princess of Wales officially opened the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute’s temporary premises in Darlinghurst. During her time in Sydney, the Princess of Wales visited our laboratories to witness the life changing work we do. The Princess also spent time chatting with seriously ill patients at St Vincent’s Hospital.

Princess Diana also attended the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute Royal Ball as the guest of honour, where she wore an iconic sky-blue dress which captivated the nation. Also on debut that night was a dazzling aquamarine ring, most recently worn by Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, to celebrate her marriage to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.

Princess Diana with Prof Bob Graham and Premier Neville Wran at the opening of Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute

Professor Bob Graham, former Executive Director of the Institute, was fortunate to be her primary host and spend some quality time with Diana, Princess of Wales during her visit to Australia.

“I found Diana both regal and radiant, and yet, very down to earth – easy to talk to, interested in people and patients, compassionate and knowledgeable about heart disease,” Professor Graham reflects.

“I remember I said to her, 'Don’t people get intimidated Princess, when you go and talk to them?’ And what she said was very insightful. She said to me ’If I stand on the edge of the bed or stand next to them, they never relax. But if I sit down and hold their hand, within five minutes they’ve forgotten who I am and they start to talk’. I thought that was very, very nice.”

Princess Diana walking up the stage to address the crowd at the Victor Chang Royal Ball
“I sat next to her at the Victor Chang Royal Ball. And I was impressed by how ‘human’ she was. I had to get up and make a speech and after I finished and sat down next to her again, she said, ‘You must be pleased that’s over. I still get very nervous making speeches.’ I was very surprised by that. Diana gave a lovely speech.”

Since her tragic and untimely death in 1997, the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute continues to honour Princess Diana’s legacy through our dedication to finding cures for heart disease.

“I’d like to think that we have achieved an enormous amount in heart research over the past two decades and, having got to know her, I’m sure the Princess would be immensely proud of the key role she has played in the Institute’s early development. And for that, we are ever grateful.”

Portrait painted of Princess Diana at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute
Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years