Harry visits HIV hospital where mother Diana kissed Aids patient

Prince Harry Visits HIV Hospital Close to Diana's Heart

Prince Harry has followed in the footsteps of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, by touring an HIV hospital.

The 31-year-old chatted to staff and patients from Mildmay Hospital, which has been offering dedicated treatment to those living with the devastating illness for more than 25 years.

Harry was told stories of his mother making private late-night visits to Mildmay in east London when it was an HIV hospice, and he highlighted how she helped to break down the stigma surrounding the illness by kissing an Aids patient there.

Beneath a picture of Diana signing a photograph of herself during a 1991 visit to Mildmay, Harry put his signature in a visitors' book.

Kerry Reeves-Kneip, Mildmay's fundraising director, told the Prince that Diana made 17 visits to the centre in Shoreditch - three publicly - and that staff faced discrimination from some neighbouring shops which refused to serve them.

She added: "She came at such an important time - around this area local barbers wouldn't cut staff's hair. She really did break down the stigma."

In a lighter moment, she told a story about one of Diana's visits.

Speaking about Harry and his brother William, she said: "There was a telephone call from a school - one of you had clambered on to a school roof."

Harry joked: "It was probably me", and, when told his mother "found it amusing", replied: "Phew".

He acknowledged her efforts to change public opinion about HIV and Aids when he said: "It was here she kissed one of the patients - that was a huge deal."

Harry's visit marked the opening of the new £6 million Mildmay Hospital, which admitted its first patients in September, and the charity's 150th anniversary.

Mildmay began as a mission hospital in the mid-19th century, providing care during a cholera outbreak in London, and over the decades became part of the NHS after the war before being closed down in 1982.

In 1988 it reopened as the first dedicated hospice for people dying of Aids-related illnesses and has remained at the forefront of specialist HIV care since that time.