Fairy tales can come true. They can also turn into nightmares.
As news of the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, spreads around the world faster, perhaps, than any news story in history, people are understandably searching for meaning.
With her beauty and poise, Diana captured the world’s heart in 1981 when she married Prince Charles, the heir to the throne of England. It was only a matter of time, we all assumed, before she became Queen. It was inevitable, we thought. Here, indeed, was a real-life Cinderella story.
Her sons, William and Harry, were born in rapid succession. It all seemed so picture-perfect. After all, Charles and Diana had youth, healthy children, untold wealth, influence. They had the world at their feet.
But, as we all know, the picture was an illusion. Things were happening inside Buckingham Palace that are occurring in homes everywhere with increasing frequency — unhappiness, betrayal, cruelty, infidelity.
It’s confusing. For even the wisest of us overvalue material things. We think money can buy happiness, keep us safe from harm. We can understand why kids raised in the ghetto turn to crime. We can’t comprehend why children of wealth and privilege do. We can understand why low-income teen-age girls become unwed mothers. We can’t comprehend why daughters of wealth and privilege do. We can understand why poor boys turn to drugs. We can’t comprehend why the sons of wealth and privilege do.
Likewise, we all think, from time to time, that our own relationships would be so much better — so much more fulfilling — if they were not strained, or at least constrained, by economic realities. We all imagine that if we could live like Charles and Diana, beckoning servants for our every need, that life would be so easy. We could concentrate on the things that are important — raising children, sharing love, appreciating new experiences, gathering knowledge.
But, as important as those things are to us, there’s more to life — much more. And we can never be completely at peace in our hearts if we ignore the missing element and overlook the ultimate issue — the search for truth, meaning and spiritual fulfillment.
This is the “something” that no amount of wealth can provide. It’s the solution for which there is no government program. No matter our station in life, we all have to face up to it in our own way.
The world is “shocked” at the death of Diana. Virtually every statement quoted in the press — whether from a government leader or from an average person on the street — used that word. Yet, why are we shocked? We’re all going to die. We just don’t expect it to happen in an untimely way — especially to people we know, or feel like we know.
Things like this shouldn’t happen to young mothers, we think. People in the prime of life, with lots of potential and responsibilities shouldn’t be struck down. It’s unfair to the young princes. We want to blame someone. We want to grieve. We want to know why.
The answer is that we live in a fallen world. No amount of material wealth and no amount of utopian dreaming can change that fact. Death comes — to rich and poor, famous and obscure, good and bad. Every day. It’s just a question of when.
What the story of Charles and Diana illustrates for us is that, sometimes, it can actually be harder for those of wealth, privilege and power to develop the most important relationship any person could ever have — one with God. This is what Jesus meant when He said: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Riches, like all worldly things, can be a terrible stumbling block.
That’s not to say it is impossible for the rich to inherit the kingdom. Because, as Jesus also taught, with God all things are possible. One can only hope and pray that Diana overcame the obstacles of the world and today resides in a mansion far grander than Buckingham Palace.