10:27am (London time) August 28 1996: The 15-year fairy tale marriage of Prince Charles and Diana officially ended in divorce with a legal clerk informed the media the divorce had become "absolute". 'The Sun' newspaper reported Diana would to receive a lump-sum payment of some $26.35 million as part of the divorce settlement. It was understood the Prince of Wales had also agreed to provide Diana with $620,000 a year to run her Kensington Palace office where Diana remained Patron of 6 charities including the Red Cross. However Diana was "effectively jobless".
"When I met with the Princess of Wales the day after her divorce," Joanna Bull of the Gilda's Club for Cancer Sufferers recounted, "I saw a woman who was excited about her prospects and concerned about whether she would be able to fulfil what she really felt to be her destiny. That destiny was very connected to her wish to show her compassion to the world . . . and change and affect suffering as it existed. And I did everything I could to support her in finding ways to make that happen, if only to believe that it might because the opportunity was so tremendous. She knew very clearly that her role was no longer what it had been with respect to the Royal family. Everyone knew that. What was unknown was the extent to which she would be given the room to really go out there and speak for changing the world and making it a better place with less human suffering caused by human to one another."
In September 1996, Diana flew to Greece, to the town of Limni (small fishing and mining town, population 3000), on the island of Euboeaon to attend the funeral of Yannis Kaliviotis at the Orthodox Church of the Panaghia (Birth of the Virgin Mary). The service lasted 40 minutes with Father Pavlos, the village priest, announced, "I want to thank the gentle Princess Diana, whose love for you shows in her sacrifice. She left London to say goodby to you and her presence here today (in 1996) shows her purity of her love for you.''
One Royal watcher remarked, "It is an astonishing transformation. Diana went from being quite an obscure private individual to becoming perhaps the most famous woman in the world which is about as much a transformation as one person can make in a lifetime." Liz Tilberis, the then editor-in-chief of 'Harper's Bazaar' observed, "When Princess Diana came, the entire world came." Former bodyguard, Ken Wharfe remembered, "She's a tremendous asset because she has this amazing ability to speak to people across a huge social and political spectrum and that wasn't something that she was taught because nobody actually taught her anything. Diana picked all this up herself."
Lucia Flecha De Lima told Richard Attenborough, "In the past, the kings were the ones who were supposed to have these healing gifts . . . I think Diana really has this power - and I don't mean in the sense that she touches you and you're healed but she brought such a hope, such a joy into sick people lives . . . I think she transmitted them a very positive energy that help a lot of them through their illness." Landon Jones of 'People' magazine added, "I think that the effect that Diana has is in the idea that someone could be this famous – the most famous recognizable woman in the world, the woman who picture appears in every magazine, every newspaper, everyone knew her - and yet in that role she could seek to be idealistic and work hard for the betterment of humankind."
Also in September 1996, at the request of Katharine Graham, Diana made her first U.S. public appearance since the divorce to raise $1 million for the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research at Georgetown University Hospital. The charity gala Diana attended at the National Building Museum in Washington was held for the first time. Some 700 guests attending the $500-a-ticket, or $25,000-a-table dinner included Colin Powell, Tommy Hilfiger, Elizabeth Dole, the Rockefellers, Oscar de la Renta, Barbara Walters, Ben Bradlee, the du Ponts, Calvin Klein, Anna Wintour, ambassadors, power brokers and Naomi Campbell. Diana presented the Nina Hyde Center's first humanitarian award to Ralph Lauren, who helped to establish the center in 1989 and organized the yearly fund-raising weekend sale of donated designer clothes known as the Super-Sale.
Jerry White of Landmine Survivors Network pointed out, "Diana brought landmine into every living room in the world. Without that lightning rod – her celebrity – and the cameras following her, perhaps none of us would have really heard about mass suffering caused by landmine." In June 1997, "accompanied by Elizabeth Dole, one of the most influential women in the United States, Diana brought her message of landmine to the very heart of the American political life." Some 400 guests paid tickets ranging from $350 to $3500 to attend the American Red Cross black-tie gala held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts to raise $500,000 for victims of landmine. Diana reportedly donated a velvet-lined box filled with some of her possessions, including one of her dresses which raised $21,000 for the charity. One charity worker made the observation, "...She has that ability to make people feel included and to make other people the center of attention. Actually that's a special gift and not many people have it. And she has it in enormous abundance."