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Princess Diana called AIDS advocate Elizabeth Glaser ‘often’ during the last year of her life, son Jake says

Princess Diana’s HIV/AIDS advocacy went beyond what cameras captured in her lifetime.

Behind the scenes, she developed a close bond with Elizabeth Glaser, the wife of actor Paul Michel Glaser from “Starsky and Hutch” fame.

“Diana called my mom often in the last year of her life,” Glaser’s son, Jake Glaser, told People magazine in this week’s issue before World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

“It was the love to support and protect their children that brought them together,” shared the 37-year-old.

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AIDS Activist Elizabeth Glaser.

AIDS Activist Elizabeth Glaser.
(Photo by Jeffrey Markowitz/Sygma via Getty Images)

According to the outlet, Glaser contracted HIV during an emergency blood transfusion after hemorrhaging while giving birth to her daughter Ariel in 1981. It was two months after the first cases of AIDS were reported in the U.S. Glaser unknowingly passed it on to Ariel through breast milk and then Jake when he was born in 1984. Her husband was the only family member who remained uninfected, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Ariel passed away in 1988 at age 7. Despite her grief, Glaser was determined to raise awareness of the devastating AIDS battle. Glaser went to Washington and met with members of Congress, as well as President Reagan. She created the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) to fund research and stop the spread of the deadly disease, the outlet noted.

According to Jake, Glaser and Diana met through a mutual friend and the pair became fast friends.

“The strongest parallel between Princess Diana and my mother was definitely their love and advocacy for children,” said Jake.

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Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 - 1997) visiting patients suffering from AIDS at the Hospital Universidade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 25th April 1991.

Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 – 1997) visiting patients suffering from AIDS at the Hospital Universidade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 25th April 1991.
(Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

Jake told the outlet that after “lengthy” phone calls, the women learned they were both going to be on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, in August 1994.

“My cousins have a house on Martha’s Vineyard, and that was very much our safe space – our escape from the craziness of life, to go have fun and see our family,” he explained. “We invited Diana to the house and she came over.”

According to Jake, the two mothers bonded over having boys. Both he and Diana’s youngest son, Prince Harry, are the same age.

“They really hit it off from moment one,” he said. “She was there for her as a friend and [a] supportive voice.”

Elizabeth Glaser addresses the Democratic National Nominating Convention in Madison Square Garden. Elizabeth Glaser was a major American AIDS activist and child advocate married to actor and director Paul Michael Glaser. She contracted HIV very early in the modern AIDS epidemic after receiving an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion in 1981 while giving birth. Glaser died in 1994. 

Elizabeth Glaser addresses the Democratic National Nominating Convention in Madison Square Garden. Elizabeth Glaser was a major American AIDS activist and child advocate married to actor and director Paul Michael Glaser. She contracted HIV very early in the modern AIDS epidemic after receiving an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion in 1981 while giving birth. Glaser died in 1994. 
(Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

The outlet shared that even while Glaser’s health deteriorated, Diana continued to call her friend. Someone would hold the phone to Glaser’s ear so that she could hear Diana’s words of encouragement.

Glaser lost her battle on Dec. 3, 1994, at age 47. Today, Jake said he is determined to keep his mother’s legacy alive.

“Harry is his mother’s son, as I am my mother’s son,” he said. “We’re always looking for fun opportunities to continue supporting each other’s work, both on the foundation side, but also as individuals.”

Jake also shared that he and Harry bonded during the International AIDS Conference in 2016.

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Princess Diana passed away in 1997 from injuries she sustained in a Paris car crash. She was 36.

Princess Diana passed away in 1997 from injuries she sustained in a Paris car crash. She was 36.
(Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Image)

“It’s not very often that you get to let down your hair and chat with a prince,” he said.

Jake hopes to reconnect with Harry soon and commemorate the work that their mothers started in their advocacy.

“Who knows what the future can hold,” he said. “We could have another picture of Harry and I on the vineyard, celebrating the eradication of HIV and AIDS one day.”

Diana passed away in 1997 from injuries she sustained in a Paris car crash. She was 36. Both of her sons have honored their late mother by naming their daughters after her: Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana Mountbatten-Windsor and Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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