Dale Tryon, Baroness Tryon
Dale Elizabeth Tryon, Baroness Tryon (3 January 1948 – 15 November 1997), was a colourful figure in royal court circles, being a close friend of both Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, and a successful businesswoman in the international fashion world, with the fashion label "Kanga" and couture line "The Dale Tryon Collection". "Kanga" also came to be her own nickname. Tryon gave her support to a number of charities including SANE—the mental health charity of which she was the Chairman.
Born Dale Elizabeth Harper in Melbourne, Australia, she was the eldest of three children of a wealthy printing 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.
A committed socialite described by family and friends as having "tremendous joie de vivre," 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, and had four children: Zoe, Charles, and twins Edward and Victoria.
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 Madeley and Judy Finnigan, Dale persuaded Diana to wear a Kanga dress to the Live Aid concert. Kanga quickly became a favourite of the Sloane Ranger set, and 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. 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.
Some reports are quoted as saying that 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. However spina bifida is a physical deformity of the spine - a permanent condition - and is not suffered in 'bouts'. It is more likely that her health suffered from her known diagnosis of Legg–Calvé–Perthes syndrome. 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.
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. While undergoing treatment for addiction at the Farm Place Clinic, she jumped from a first-floor window, broke her back and was 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, after leaving the Black Horse Inn in Great Durnford. After release from the spinal injuries unit at Salisbury District Hospital, she returned home. After her divorce she renounced her title, 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 at King Edward VII Hospital from septicaemia, aged 49. She was buried four days later in England, and in her will left her £1.3 million estate to her children.
- Deaths England and Wales 1984–2006
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