Independent Online, 02 November 2002, The people's royals join forces against Aids, By Elizma Nolte

London - Nelson Mandela announced on Saturday night that his children's fund and the charity of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, would join forces to help South African children and communities devastated by HIV/Aids.

At a press conference in London Mandela expressed his admiration for the late princess's humanitarian work and emphasised the important role she played in combating the stigma around HIV/Aids.

"She highlighted neglected causes. She reached out to people on the margins of society. She made even the most humble people feel special. Princess Diana took advantage of her celebrity status and used this to challenge and fight the stigma attached to poverty, and people living with terminal diseases - especially those with HIV/Aids.

"When she stroked the limbs of someone with leprosy, or sat on the bed of a man with HIV/Aids and held his hand, she transformed public attitudes and improved the life chances of such people.

"Her love for children went beyond the European borders and boundaries. I urge everyone... to learn from her example and embrace her legacy," Mandela said.

He said the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund would join forces to help reduce the suffering of Aids orphans, those dying of Aids and the bereaved they left behind. The joint initiative aims to build on the existing work of both charities.

A spokesperson for the late Princess Diana's fund said the two charities would not establish a new fund but would launch new joint programmes.

An example was the palliative care grants that Princess Diana's fund has already given to several hospices in
South Africa to help reduce the suffering of people dying of Aids.

The fund has already donated 340 000 (about R5,4-million) to hospice work in
South Africa, including 35 000 to develop a diploma and a master's degree in palliative care for doctors at the University of Cape Town. The fund said that despite the scale of the Aids epidemic in South Africa, there were only five doctors qualified in palliative medicine working in the country.

Mandela's trip to
Britain this week was organised with the goal of paying a personal tribute to Diana. On Friday he visited Althorp, where she is buried and which is now a museum in her honour, and had lunch with her brother, Earl Spencer.

On Saturday morning Mandela was honoured for his his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, which has sold 1,5 million copies in
Britain, at a function at the South African embassy in London. -Independent Foreign Service