On September 18, 1996, Diana, the Princess of Wales, made a surprise trip to the Greek island of Evia to pay last respects to her “dear friend” who had died several days earlier.
Britain’s “Queen of Hearts” had developed a close friendship with 27-year-old Giannis Kaliviotis, who had been hospitalized for months in London’s Royal Brompton Hospital.
He had suffered his entire life from cystic fibrosis, a progressive, genetic disease which causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time.
Giannis, a practicing lawyer in Chalkida, Evia’s largest city, was transferred to London in 1995 where he received treatment for almost 18 months.
Princess Diana met him at Brompton during one of her many visits to London hospitals. It is said that she was extremely moved by his absolute determination to battle the disease.
She developed a close friendship with Giannis and even invited him to dinner at Buckingham Palace.
Once she learned of his death, she boarded a private jet offered to her by a Greek billionaire and flew to Athens. She then traveled by car to Giannis’ hometown, Limni, on Evia.
Diana paid her respects to the Kaliviotis family and visited Giannis’ house. She then walked to the local church, just like all the other mourners, for his funeral ceremony.
Throughout this emotional day, she was escorted by the local Metropolitan, Pavlos Ioannou.
Ioannou told the congregation during the funeral ceremony that “God sent her in this difficult time to give courage to Giannis’s family.”
At the time of her visit to Greece, Diana was the object of increased worldwide media scrutiny, since her marriage had just ended in divorce one month prior, on August 28, 1996.
Diana died almost exactly one year later at a car crash in a Paris tunnel on August 31, 1997.