Wrong choices, tragic results

September 03, 1997|By Cal Thomas

PORTADOWN, Northern Ireland -- The plot of Diana's life -- from beaming princess at her fairy-tale royal wedding to a mangled body inside the twisted wreckage of a luxury car in a Paris tunnel -- is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportion.

Within hours of her death, recriminations were being heard. The notorious paparazzi were singled out for special denunciation by Diana's brother. But if the public didn't have a voracious appetite for every image and tidbit about Diana, the photographers would not have been there.

The accessories in Diana's death are members of the royal family, who never appeared to welcome her and who constantly sought to make her over into their dull, dowdy and dysfunctional image. Her refusal to be like them immediately set her up for the many tragedies to follow. Instead of seeing her as a key to a bright future for the monarchy, they locked her into a social and political Tower of London which led to her ''execution'' as inevitably as if she had been one of the unfortunate wives of Henry VIII.

Charles seemed jealous of the attention his wife received (contrast this with the clear delight John Kennedy expressed over press interest in Jackie). He grew pouty when England, and then the world, became enthralled by Diana's charm, grace and beauty. Instead of trading on his greatest asset for the benefit of his country and family, he started behaving like a child robbed of his toys and sought out a mother figure in his once and future mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles.

Undeserving of the throne

Charles didn't have the class or character to be worthy of his wife. She had her problems, but all probably could have been overcome (or never started) with loving attention from a husband devoted to her and not his mother, the monarchy and his mistress. He does not deserve the throne of England.

On national and then international television, both Charles and Diana admitted to adulterous affairs. Apparently she was engaged in another such affair with Mr. Fayed when she died. How does one explain such things to two young sons, one of whom is the future King William of England?

Why would their mother leave them for weeks on end to cavort with a man not her husband or their father? It is a hard question, but covering it up or refusing to answer it while focusing on Diana's ''charitable'' work is a form of denial that ignores the real tragedy of this awful play that has been acted out in a very public way for the last 15 years.

Was there no one who could make Charles and Diana understand the damage they were causing themselves and their children? Did anyone try? Couldn't someone tell them that happiness is not found in the behavior in which they were engaged? Would they be happy if their sons became just like them? If not, why didn't they behave in ways they would want their sons to emulate?

The essence of tragedy is that things don't have to be the way they turn out. Hamlet and Macbeth had choices. So did Charles and Diana. They made the wrong ones, with tragic results.

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist.

Pub Date: 9/03/97

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