Tyrades! by Danny Tyree
Believe it or not, August 31 is the 25th anniversary of the traffic accident that robbed the world of the effervescent Diana, Princess of Wales.
Diana was a distant, distant cousin (my great-great grandfather Tyree married Mary Ann Spencer a century before I was born). But even without that connection, I feel compelled to dedicate this week’s column to drawing a few lessons from her too-brief life.
The philosophy “Seemed like a good idea at the time” sums up so much of her public career.
In retrospect, marrying a much-older heir to the throne (whose personality was incompatible with hers and who carried a torch for his present wife) doesn’t sound like the classic recipe for “lived happily ever after.” But it seemed like a good idea at the time to Diana and the millions who watched the wedding on TV.
Agreeing to keep up with all the arbitrary royal etiquette and obligations apparently seemed like a good idea at the time, since Netflix’s “The Crown” wasn’t around in 1981 to air dirty laundry.
The extramarital affairs that brought Diana and Prince Charles to the point of separation and divorce probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but the scandal had a lasting impact on the family and the world.
The paparazzi who giddily chased Diana’s vehicle through Paris’s Pont de l’Alma tunnel obviously thought it seemed like a good idea to wallow in wretched excess and snap just one more batch of photographs of one of the most photographed women in the world.
The driver of Diana’s car thought it was a good idea to outrun the paparazzi, but the crash soon cost the lives of Diana, her boyfriend and the driver.
Royalty and commoners alike could learn from the way Diana’s life and death played out.
“You only live once” is the sparkly mantra of many, but there is still a place for doing cost-benefit analyses and counting to ten before making a decision. There remains virtue in adages such as “Measure twice, cut once,” “Haste makes waste,” “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” and the like.
Luckily, several good things did come out of the bad decisions surrounding Diana.
As part of the royal family, Diana had a bully pulpit for advancing her pet projects, including the welfare of AIDS patients and the International Red Cross campaign for the removal of landmines.
(My best friend from third grade passed away from AIDS complications as an adult, so the issue resonates with me.)
Diana’s beloved sons are still with us. Although Harry seems to revel in being the outcast of the family, William gives all indications of being a solid monarch someday.
And of course, by dying at the tender age of 36, Diana remains forever young in the public imagination.
Queen Elizabeth II remains immensely popular at age 96, but who knows what a fickle press would have done with a 61-year-old Diana? As it is, her style, compassion and zest for life remain preserved in amber for future generations.
As you hum the “Goodbye, England’s Rose” version of “Candle in the Wind” this month, spend a little time analyzing your own decision-making processes. You may not ensure a fairytale ending for you and your loved ones, but maybe you can avoid royally messing up.
Copyright 2022 Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”