World Mourns Princess Diana 20 Years Later

Twenty years ago today it was a Saturday night and I had just arrived at the 56 Fighter Group in East Farmingdale, NY and went to the bar to get a drink. I looked up at the TV and saw the headline that Princess Diana was in a fatal car crash. I sat in disbelief as if someone had told me I had lost a dear friend. 

Through her well publicized life I had witnessed Diana's wedding and the birth of her children and her enduring campaign to rid the world of explosive remnants of war strewn across fields where innocent children played unaware of the hidden dangers lurking below. I was crestfallen. As the events that led up to the car crash pointed toward a desperate escape from pursuing paparazzi, the royal tragedy unfolded: Princess Diana, 36 years of age, was taken abruptly from her two teenage sons.

Princess Diana, England's Rose.

Today, her boys are grown and the world goes on, but for a moment it stood still 20 years ago. I recall writing a eulogy soon thereafter and mailing it to the Long Island Voice, which published it on its Letters page. Looking back, I must have shared in a universal grief as I associated Elton John's "Candle In The Wind" with the loss long before he played a revised version of it at her funeral. Here is my letter:

Goodbye, England's Rose

Pictures of Di are worth big bucks. She was a gold mine. Much like the great rush that sent miners across an unknown territory some hundred years ago, anyone with a lens pursued her in hopes that one strike would earn a fortune. I wondered why.

After hours of silent contemplation and careful analysis of media coverage, I deduced that Lady Di was indeed a gem. She shined like a diamond under intense light. Her life was a fairy tale filled with romance heartbreak, ending in tragedy as if Shakespeare constructed it himself.

It did not take long to realize her talent and mourn her loss. At the conclusion of the ABC special Royal Tragedy on the somber Sunday evening after the fatal car crash, I went to my bedroom and dimmed the lights. I played Elton John's "Candle In The Wind" and wept.


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