Diana remembered in Tahoe
In the public’s eye, she was the shy young school teacher who developed into a lady of great sensitivity and dignity under intense media scrutiny that went with being the future queen of England.
She shook hands with AIDS patients in a London hospital when such gestures were considered taboo.
She took her husband, the heir to the British throne, to homeless shelters to show him the realities of the underprivileged.
She brought worldwide attention – and donations – to humanitarian causes that otherwise may have gone neglected.
And she never seemed to look down on anybody – no matter how modest their background.
These were just a few of the attributes that made her the “shining star in the constellation” of England’s royal family.
And they are only part of the reason why the shock and grief over the death of Lady Diana Spencer are being felt around the world.
“Everybody liked her because she was real,” said Jon Scott, boat rental manager at Timber Cove Marina. “She was more royal than the royal family. She was the way they should be. It’s a huge loss to the whole world.”
Lake Tahoe is linked to the throne primarily through the large number of British expatriates residing in the area.
As the news of Lady Di’s death circled the globe, a sense of sorrow set in for local Brits, who could only recall fond thoughts of the woman and anger about the circumstances of her death.
It seems to be a truly tragic irony that the media that hounded the princess’ every move since her 1981 marriage to Prince Charles had a suspected role in her death.
“It’s too much of a terrible, terrible thing,” Scott said. “If it was an avalanche, that would be one thing. But being chased by the media – that’s despicable.”
The constant attention to Lady Di’s every move was largely fueled by the nation’s great interest in their future queen.
“If you had a picture of Princess Di and a story that she’s done something, that newspaper would sell very well on that day,” noted Keith Simpson, owner of Dory’s Oar Restaurant. Simpson is a British national who left England for South Lake Tahoe at the beginning of this year. He attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace in 1991.
Scott attended an awards banquet attended by the princess before he left the United Kingdom for the states about seven years ago.
Neither had the opportunity to converse with the woman who would have been the future queen had she not divorced Prince Charles almost exactly a year before her death. But just being in the same room created its own sense of awe.
“You don’t get to converse,” Simpson recounted. “You get a handshake. Other than saying ‘thank you for inviting us’ and ‘you have a nice place,’ you get tongue-tied and don’t know what to say.”
Still, people identified with her.
“She didn’t come across as an upper class, aloof person,” Simpson added. “She came across as a middle class person. She actually brought the royal family closer to the people. Princess Di was seen as a normal person and touched the hearts of many British people. It was like a friend being killed in a car accident, because everyone could relate to her.”
Her legacy may be the human traits she brought to the often stodgy royal family, said British national Hilary Harrison, who, along with her husband, own the Matterhorn Motel. The two left Manchester, England for South Lake Tahoe about 18 months ago.
“She made herself an ambassador in ways that most of the royal family did not choose to do,” Harrison said. “I think she brought a new dimension to the royal family.”
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