Former NU President Remembers The Late Princess Diana

CHICAGO (CBS) — On the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, there was a massive outpouring of love Thursday in London.

During her short life, she visited Chicago only once.

And as CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, those memories are still fresh today as the world remembers the “People’s Princess.”

On the day of her death in Chicago, a memorial popped up to the People’s Princess, where memories of her visit a year earlier were still very much alive.

“It was the most exciting day of our lives at work.”

For three days in June of 1996 Chicago was her enchanted kingdom, where the celebrity princess had no problem breaking away from formal events to speak with the throngs of people who turned out to see her.

“I didn’t even know that people would resonate so strongly to her visit,” said Henry Bienen, President Emeritus Northwestern University.

Henry Bienen was president of Northwestern University, at the time, which sponsored her visit.

“She was professional about what she did and at the same time she was a very nice person,” he said.

“I wish you all the strength to continue in your most important work,” Princess Diana said during her visit.

The Princess came to Chicago to raise money for cancer research, but beyond attending galas, she took time, lots of time to quietly meet with patients.

“People with cancer give up. Well there’s always hope,” Princess Diana said.

Those interactions with patients, those moments with the crowds, turned out to be her lasting legacy as the “People’s Princess.”

“I think she made up her mind. She had the capacity to do good in the world by virtue of her stature and position and her huge public image and was determined to do so,” Bienen said.

“Thank you all for being so kind to me and showing such generous spirit and perhaps our paths will cross again,” Princess Diana said.

Diana wore a purple gown to a gala at the Field Museum, and it’s often listed as one of her more iconic dresses.

She was also photographed a year later in London wearing Northwestern sweatpants. President Beienen exchanged emails with her at the time, where she indicated her interest in returning to Chicago.

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