To Top

Charity Spotlight: Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund

Throughout the month of December, we will be highlighting various foundations and charities of the royals in the spirit of the giving and festive season. Happy Holidays!

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund was founded in September 1997, shortly after Diana’s death, to carry on her legacy.

Following the immense public outpouring of grief, donations were sent to Kensington Palace in Diana’s name, and in the immediate days following her untimely death, the Fund was set up to continue her work.

Per the Fund’s official website, “When the Fund was set up in 1997 as a grant-making charity, following the example of the Princess’ concern for the most vulnerable in society, the Fund was determined to remain a resolute and influential supporter of people on the margins of society and of the charities that worked alongside them.”

The Fund received money from various channels, including around £34 million from the public, community groups, and companies; £38 million from sales of Sir Elton John’s memorial CD “Candle in the Wind ‘97”; and £66 million from investments, commercial partnerships, and proceeds from the “Diana: A Celebration” exhibit that were donated by Lord Spencer, Diana’s younger brother.

An American counterpart to the Fund, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund (US), was founded in 1998 and provided grants to over 40 organisations in the United States. It operated separately from the UK Fund.

Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Diana’s elder sister, acted as President of the Fund’s Trustee Board, while her brother, Lord Spencer, was a benefactor to the Fund.

Over the course of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund’s lifetime, it awarded 727 grants to 471 organisations, and, per the Fund’s official website, spent over £112 million on charitable causes.

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund’s official website breaks down the total earnings of the Fund between 1998 and 2012. In total, £138,645,000 was received over 14 years, and £138,108,000 was spent.

Donations were received thusly:

  • 53% of donations, gifts and legacies (£72,790,000)
  • 35% of income from trading companies (£48,792,000)
  • 12% in investment incomes (£17,063,000)

Expenditures were noted like this:

  • 81% charitable expenditures (£111,978,000)
  • 16% income-generating costs (£22,109,000)
  • 3% administrative costs (£4,021,000)

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund broke down its charitable expenditures further, noting that £93,281,000 was used to supply grants, £3,659,000 was used to champion causes, £2,550,000 was used for the Voluntary Sector Room Service, and £12,788,000 was used for programme staff and support costs.

For the first ten years of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund’s existence, it was a grant-making programme, and all eligible organisations could apply for funding based on the criteria for that year’s programming. The Fund spent over £60 million in grants during this time period. Per the Fund’s official website, in these years, money was spent “helping improve the lives of displaced people, people at the margins of society, survivors of conflict and those who were dying or bereaved.”

In 2006, following a strategic review, the Fund focused on targeted programmes and subsequently decided to close within five to nine years. This was formally announced in 2007 when the Strategic Plan 2007-2012 was unveiled.

In the final years of the Fund, focused on several specific initiatives: The Palliative Care Initiative, The Refugee and Asylum Seekers Initiative, and The Partnership Initiative (which later became two separate initiatives – The Cluster Munitions Initiative and The Penal Reform Initiative).

“The Initiatives were selected because they built on the Fund’s first ten years of work and because they addressed areas where the Fund believed it could help deliver a significant and lasting impact on the lives of the most vulnerable within a relatively short time frame,” reads the Fund’s official website.

The grant programme changed with the initiatives based direction the Fund took. Organisations could no longer apply for funding. The Fund would instead proactively select organisations “who shared their vision and who were in the best position to help them achieve their aims.”

The Palliative Care Initiative looked to continue Diana’s work in hospice care and care for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

This initiative used its money to help fund palliative care in several African countries, including Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The Palliative Care Initiative had three major achievements over its lifetime, including that it helped integrate palliative care in health policies, ensured palliative care was taught in medical and nursing courses and made more children’s palliative care services available. It spent £12,606,510 on 174 grants.

The Refugee and Asylum Seekers Initiative looked to offer support to those seeking refuge and asylum in the United Kingdom.

Over its lifetime, this initiative worked on making progress “towards ending the detention of children for immigration purposes”, worked on the media and political discourse surrounding migration and asylum, and funded organisations that would support refugees to “develop as leaders and campaign for social change.”

The Refugee and Asylum Seekers Initiative saw £7,195,575 on 91 grants.

The Cluster Munitions Initiative focused on one of Diana’s biggest causes, especially towards the end of her life: landmines. This initiative’s focus was “supporting the global campaign to band cluster bombs, supporting national campaigns, and supporting the Ban Advocates Initiative,” and spent £827,327 on nine grants to help achieve this aim.

The Penal Reform Initiative focused on “alternative solutions to imprisonment for two of the most vulnerable groups in custody – women and children, and young people.”

The Penal Reform Initiative only offered one grant, in the amount of £1,881,000 to the Prison Reform Trust, which ran a five-year campaign on behalf of the Fund called “Out of Trouble.”

The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund closed on 31 December 2012, having achieved its mission to help disadvantaged people. However, due to the law – as an unincorporated trust – the Fund couldn’t close, and people could still send donations.

To combat this, and to ensure that any future donations would not get lost in limbo, The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry took over ownership of the Fund in 2013. All further donations are taken care of by this foundation and go towards charitable initiatives, not towards those under the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

More in Blog Posts