Diana Visits Argentina as ‘Ambassador’ : Royalty: Princess finds a tough audience, but she wins over many with compassion. Trip comes on heels of controversial TV interview.
Britain’s Princess Diana on Thursday sought to put the scandal and controversy of a tell-all TV interview behind her as she began a four-day visit to Argentina.
But the estranged wife of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, found a tough audience for her new chosen role as a roving goodwill ambassador for her nation.
Argentina fought a war with Britain over the Falkland Islands in 1982, and many Argentines today regard Diana as a frivolous symbol of an anachronistic monarchy. A charity dinner starring Diana, scheduled for today, had still not sold out at $250 a head. The media gave her a high profile but showed more interest in a local soccer festival.
And a Welsh community in the southern region of Patagonia, where she will go whale-watching and take tea Saturday, promised to treat her like just another tourist.
Still, just two hours after reaching Argentina, the 34-year-old princess managed to impress the Argentine public with her compassion as she visited an infant paralysis center and toured a rehabilitation center for the disabled.
She sat next to 9-year-old Maria Fernanda Olivera, who had her paralyzed legs strapped to a table, then turned to Agustin, a 3-year-old boy in yellow dungarees, to stroke his hair and chat through an interpreter.
“Diana talked with the patients much more than protocol demands,” Susana de Vila, president of the ALPI infant paralysis center, told reporters.
Crowds of well-wishers mobbed the princess’s car outside the paralysis clinic shouting “Lady Di! Lady Di!”
Diana was making her debut taking “the good qualities” of Britain abroad only three days after the interview that bared the secret life of the royals.
In the interview, she admitted to the British Broadcasting Corp. that she had an affair with her riding instructor. And she told of a married life with the prince that was so miserable, she said, that it led her to self-mutilation and bulimia.
After more charity visits and Saturday’s trip to Patagonia, the Princess of Wales flies home Sunday.