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Dale Elizabeth Tryon, Baroness Tryon (3 January 1948[1] – 15 November 1997), was a close friend of both Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales. She was described by Prince Charles as "the only woman who ever understood me."[2]

Born Dale Elizabeth Harper in Melbourne, Australia,[2] she was the eldest of three children of a wealthy publishing magnate. In early childhood Dale was diagnosed with Perthes disease, which affects the hip joint. which she suffered with until the age of nine after being in a children's hospital in irons from feet to chest. On her graduation, she worked in London as a public relations officer for the airline Qantas.[2]

A committed socialite described by family and friends as having "tremendous joie de vivre,"[3] within two weeks of arriving in England she had met Anthony Tryon, Baron Tryon who was a member of Prince Charles's inner circle. It was through her husband that she first met the Prince of Wales, although he had attended Geelong Grammar School in Australia. Dale and Anthony married in 1973,[4] and had four children: Zoe, Charles, and twins Edward and Victoria.[2][4]

Although married, her friendship with Prince Charles developed—both enjoyed fly fishing, which they undertook regularly.[2] Through this close friendship, there were continual tabloid rumours of Dale—whom Anthony Tryon nicknamed "Kanga"—was in actual fact Charles's mistress. This was in part fuelled by Dale's relationship with the press, including the Daily Mail diarist Nigel Dempster. However, in all her publicised newspaper and television interviews, Dale never revealed the extent of their friendship; although Prince Charles publicly described Kanga as "the only woman who ever understood me."[2] Prince Charles also had a long term friendship with the also married Camilla Parker Bowles, but Dale and Camilla didn't get on, and this feud continued throughout her ongoing relationship with Prince Charles. Prince Charles was also godfather to Camilla's son Tom and Dale's son Charlie.

In 1983, Dale started a fashion business called Kanga, located in Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge. Launched through a personal television appearance on the ITV1 show This Morning hosted by friends Richard and Judy, Dale persuaded Princess Diana to wear a Kanga dress to the Live Aid concert. Kanga quickly became a favourite of the Sloane Ranger set, and resultantly became a successful international business. Dale lived between London and Lord Tryon's family home the 109-room Manor House at Great Durnford, near Salisbury.

After the birth of her twins, Dale suffered from a recurrent bout of spina bifida, during the treatment for which it was discovered she was suffering from cancer of the uterus in 1993. After this point she travelled for a period with a nurse, a physiotherapist, and her daughter who would lie next to her as she slept, rolling her over regularly. During Prince Charles's and Diana's divorce Dale tried to remain friends with both parties; for a while it had become well-founded tabloid speculation that Prince Charles had, since the breakdown of his own marriage, been continuing an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, which led to Dale and Charles starting to become distant.

Dale Tryon was both a colourful figure in royal court circles and a successful businesswoman in the international fashion world. From the early 1980s her clothes were sold in shops from England to America to Australia, France and Spain, and her own boutique in Knightsbridge was later joined by branches in Salisbury, Hong Kong and Dublin. Both "Kanga" and her couture line named "The Dale Tryon Collection" were very successful.[1] Tryon also did a great deal of work for a number of charities including SANE—the mental health charity of which she was the Chairman.

To help her recover from her medical treatments, Tryon became very interested in alternative medicine and a wide variety of spiritual practices; she also decided to undertake a retreat in the Himalayas. Soon after she received the 'all clear' from cancer, Tryon underwent treatment at Farm Place, an alcohol and drug rehabilitation clinic in Surrey. She was on a heavy dose of painkillers, and drank excessive quantities of vodka and champagne.[2] While undergoing treatment for addiction at the Farm Place Clinic, she jumped from a first-floor window, broke her back and became paralysed.

Tryon was left a paraplegic from her fall and even after more than a year in a spinal rehab she never walked again. Coupled with recurring depression, and after being told by her husband that he wanted a divorce, she was detained on 17 June 1997 under the Mental Health Act for 28 days,[5] after leaving the Black Horse Inn in Great Durnford.[4] After release from the spinal injuries unit at Salisbury District Hospital,[6] she returned home. After her divorce she renounced her title,[7] and moved into The Ritz hotel, from where she gave her last recorded interview with journalist Christopher Wilson.

On her return from a trip to Australia and India, Tryon was admitted to the King Edward VII Hospital, Westminster, suffering from complications from severe bed sores. Tryon died on 15 November, 1997, a few months after Diana, at King Edward VII Hospital from septicaemia, aged 49.[2] She was buried four days later in England, and in her will left her £1.3 million estate to her children.[8]

On 4 November 2008, Tryon was the subject of a documentary, Prince Charles' Other Mistress, aired by Channel 4 television.[9]

References

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