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London I am an American expatriate living in Taiwan.

When I heard of the death of the Princess of Wales, I was deeply hurt. I don't actually know why, and it puzzles me even today. I didn't know Diana. I was not one of her friends. I was not a member of her family. I'm not even an Englishman to claim her as my princess. Yet all that week, I cried as if my own wife, or sister, or mother had died.

I never followed the tabloids (more from intellectual snobbery than moral uprightness). I never thought of her from day to day. And I was not in any part of the world that was greatly moved by the tragedy.

So why did the death of this one affect me so? The only thing I can think of is that she was so totally covered even in the standard press, that we came to know her at least as well as the neighbors (three doors down, to whom we don't often speak). Through the papers, we "knew" her life's details. And the television brought her right into our homes regularly.

What really bothers me is that many people have had lives and troubles at least as difficult as Diana's. And I feel bad that I could not notice these others in need as I did Diana.

I suppose if I am changed at all, it's the recognition that if I mourned so deeply for a woman I'd never known, oughtn't I to strive to know and care for others who are much nearer to my own sphere? Somewhere I could actually make a difference for the better in someone's life?

I wish such a tragedy had never happened. Diana was so positioned to do so much good. And she died in a drunk driving accident. She didn't even go out in the line of duty, or for one of her causes. It was just so pointless. Her death was almost Kafkaesque in its futility.

Michael F. Butchin
Taiwan



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