Diana, Princess of Wales visiting a minefield in Angola

Championing the Anti-Land Mine Cause

Delegates at an international conference in Oslo trying to agree a worldwide ban on land mines have paid tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales.

The Princess was involved in a number of causes which she championed on the global stage. But most recently she had used her popularity to focus the attention of the world's news media on the contentious issue of land mines.

After the troubles she faced following her divorce from the Prince of Wales, Diana needed to find herself a national role and she did so by becoming the figurehead for the international campaign against land mines.

After its landslide win at the General Election, the Labour Government in Britain declared a ban on land mines.

Although she had already been involved with the International Committee of the Red Cross on this issue, it was after the Government's ban on mines that Diana's work took on a higher media profile.

In late June she visited Angola and met the victims of land mines. The international press was covered with the rare pictures of a high profile figure visiting a danger zone.

Diana arrives in Bosnia with mine victim John Rutherford

While she was there Diana was forced to call off a meeting with British MPs in the Houses of Parliament. Conservative MPs had opposed the introduction of a figure regarded to be a member of the Royal Family into what they saw as a political issue.

However, Diana felt passionately about this issue, and spoke many times about the effect on her of visiting the injured. She continued to speak for the anti-land mine cause, and faced criticism for being too political, especially as British arms exports were so lucrative.

The Princess made another trip into a danger zone in early August when she visited Bosnia. She met victims of mines, and once again focussed the world's media coverage on the issue.

In recent days Diana was involved in another political scuffle. Conservative MPs were outraged by the apparent criticism of the former Conservative government's policy on land mines - Diana denied that she had made the criticisms and expressed her wish to support an issue so close to her heart.

Diana embraces two mine victims in Bosnia

Through the Labour Government's support for the ban on land mines Diana had many times met the Foreign Secretary. Robin Cook had briefed her on her visit to Angola, and he has said that she showed a depth of understanding of the subject, and huge bravery. He has said that her bravery was, he felt, motivated by her love of children and her compassion for the child victims of mines.

The Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Steel, told the BBC: "Many of us had been pursuing this cause for years. But three years ago she took it up and suddenly made it headline news. She cared greatly."


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The Landmine Survivors Network
International Committee of the Red Cross