Remembering England’s Rose

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Fifteen years ago today, the world was rocked by the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.  I remember the day almost as if it were yesterday – the shock that fell across my entire being as the news came across the television screen that she had been involved in a serious car crash in Paris, and later the sad news she had passed from her injuries.  At first I felt a sense of denial, that maybe this was just another cheap publicity stunt.  As the reality sank in, however, I remember the overwhelming sadness that came flooding over me as I realized this horrible news was actually true. 

Some people wondered why I took the news of her death as personal as I did.  Being an extreme Anglophile, I felt a deep sense of loss as the Princess – MY Princess in a sense that really can’t be described unless you happen to feel the same as I do – had passed away. 

You see, all of us have people we hold in high regard and places we hold dear.  Since my family’s ancestors hail from England, I’ve always had a sense of loyalty to the British Isles and its Royal Family that can’t be easily explained.  Suffice it to say, I consider myself an Anglophiliac (a word I just made up) – if cut I will bleed England. 

One of the main reasons I admired and loved Diana was for her sense of duty and compassion for those around her.  As most could imagine, marrying into the British Royal Family is no easy undertaking.  It wouldn’t be the life most people would ever be able to adapt to:  being hounded constantly by paparazzi, always being expected to be the epitome of refinement, having every moment of your life splashed across tabloids and newspapers would drive most of us to the brink of insanity.  True, Diana had her less than stellar moments during her marriage to The Prince of Wales, but all in all, she was able to put a human face on an institution many had come to consider a bit too stoic and withdrawn from the people they represent.  For this reason, and many others, Diana became the Royal most people could identify with.  Throughout her troubled marriage, the eating disorder revelations and the infidelity, she was the one who, for most people, put a human face on what life behind the palace walls could do to a person. 

At the same time, her humanitarian contributions were awe-inspiring.  I remember hearing about her visits to those in hospital who were diagnosed with AIDS, and reaching out to physically touch the patients.  At the time, this was simply not done for fear of contracting the disease.  This didn’t seem to faze her.  It seemed she was more concerned with making the patients feel at ease than her own self.  That’s something we could all, including myself, learn to do more.  The stories still stick with me of how she would sneak Prince William and Prince Harry out at night to visit homeless shelters so they could see how others lived, and to instill in them a philanthropic spirit for others. 

Even though time has passed, I still believe we could learn so much from the example Diana left us on how to treat others.  Perfect, she was not.  Yet in her weakness, there was a strength that surpassed whatever fault shown through.  As we think about her legacy, I am of the opinion we would do well to renew in our own lives a sense of duty and service to those around us.  In doing so, she will never be forgotten – and the world would be much better for it.

As I close my thoughts on the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, I can’t help but think of the song Elton John sang during her funeral.  I remember the tears rolling down my cheeks as he sang those words.  Let them speak to you as well:

Goodbye England’s rose
May you ever grow in our hearts
You were the grace that placed itself
Where lives were torn apart

You called out to our country
And you whispered to those in pain
Now you belong to heaven
And the stars spell out your name

{Refrain}
And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never fading with the sunset when the rain set in
And your footsteps will always fall here
Along England’s greenest hills
Your candle’s burned out long before
Your legend ever will

Loveliness we’ve lost
These empty days without your smile
This torch we’ll always carry
For our nation’s golden child

And even though we try
The truth brings us to tears
All our words cannot express
The joy you brought us through the years

{Refrain}

Goodbye England’s rose
May you ever grow in our hearts
You were the grace that placed itself
Where lives were torn apart

Goodbye England’s rose
From a country lost without your soul
Who’ll miss the wings of your compassion
More than you’ll ever know

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7 thoughts on “Remembering England’s Rose

  1. Glenn, I like this post very much. You did a great job writing it. I was in The hospital with my Mom that night. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was stunned. One thing in my life that changed due to this , I NEVER forget now to put on my seat belt. It changed me. I never ever forget and so many times think of her when I go to grab it. Great job my friend ! Thank you for reminding us! 🙂

  2. aguywithoutboxers

    She represented a fairy tale becoming real to members of my generation. After all this time, her death remains unreal, a nightmare that will never end. Thank you for this tribute.

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