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A diamond ring as big as the sun

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By Brian Garner

It’s customary for everyone in your social circle to ooh and aah over a new engagement ring; when Eddie Murphy gave his diamond ring to his now-fiancée Diane Yarbrough, everyone in the entire country was admiring it.

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During Monday’s solar eclipse, just as the last view of the sun before totality formed what astronomers and eclipse watchers call the “diamond ring.” Eddie proposed to Diane and gave her her own diamond engagement ring (which was somewhat smaller than the eclipse phenomenon, but fit her finger just perfectly).

“I should have known something was up when we were watching the eclipse, and he had this little TV tray out and put a white tablecloth on it,” said Diane Yarbrough.

“I had washed and set aside the wine glasses and the dish with the “M” on it for “Murphy,” and I left them at home,” Eddie Murphy said. “We had the sparkling grape juice because I’m not an alcohol drinker. We both drank out of the same bottle; it wasn't as fancy, but it did the job,” he said.

Eddie and Diane have been seeing each other for a little over a year and several weeks ago, they were at the beach together and picked out their engagement rings.

“I had a couple of meetings to go to at the beach this year, and when I was down for the first one, I went and picked out something. Diane went with my family to the beach, and the two of us slipped off to the store and I said to her ‘I want you to have the ring you want’ and ‘this is what I’m thinking.’

“I had picked out a round one, but she liked the square, so we went with that,” he said.

Murphy then took possession of the ring, and as is the habit of someone who plans for emergencies and disasters (though this event would be neither) he started to make plans for how and when he would propose.

“She’s got sisters; she’s got girlfriends, she’s got people she works with, and they kept asking ‘When is he going to give it to you?’ and I would get those comments from her, and I said ‘If I knew, I could plan,” Murphy said. He often told Diane, “The time has to be right.”

But during that time, he was making a plan. Eddie’s original idea was to propose at South Park Mall, the place where they went when they first went out together.

“That was my original intent, to go back to South Park Mall and find a bench there somewhere and propose,” Murphy said.

A mix-up in schedules means the trip to the mall didn’t happen when it should have, but Eddie got struck with inspiration.

“I thought because the eclipse has that phenomena called the diamond ring, I was going to pull a real something. I started setting it up,” he said.

The day of the eclipse, Chester County offices including Murphy’s, closed early. He wangled a few extra hours off and he and Diane headed out to watch the eclipse.

“Being in the EMA business, I plotted the weather and picked the spot. I watched the clouds from the Lowcountry and the Piedmont. We started down Highway 72, and it was shut down when you went past Mountain Lakes Road. The weekend before, we had other things to do in Columbia, so we had made a test run. (One of the things they did in Columbia is Murphy went old-school and asked Diane’s dad for his blessing to get married). The couple ended up on the other side of Newberry and stopped in the parking lot of a church.

“I thought what could be better than being in a church parking lot?” Murphy said.

“I had everything ready, from a pop-up tent to the little table. Diane had gone way ahead of time and bought a couple of pairs of the eclipse glasses, but she bought them with 2X power magnification, so they were more like binoculars. We had an extra level of quality to view the eclipse,” Murphy said.

And then he bided his time, waiting for the two-minutes or so that the diamond ring phenomena could be seen.

“It got dark, and we were listening to the chirping and the frogs croaking and we got into that little two-minute timeframe and we looked at it. Then I did my proposal thing,” he said.

Murphy remembers that Diane was looking up at the eclipse and he said something like “look at the ring” and she looked up at the celestial phenomenon and he added, “No, this ring in front of you.”

Eddie proposed while the sun and moon were in that two-minute zone and asked Diane if she would become Mrs. Eddie Murphy. She said yes.

“The whole idea was to connect it with that phenomenon,” Murphy said. “I wanted to make it a special day for her,” he said.

For her part, Diane Yarbrough said when Eddie popped the question, “I was just elated. So excited and happy. And surprised.”

She added, “People don’t see the soft side of Eddie Murphy, but he has such a good heart. He’d do anything to help somebody in need. I see that part of him. And he’s taught me how to hunt, and I’ve enjoyed that,” she said.

The secret is out now, but it turns out that Murphy may have been a secret romantic. While they were dating, on the week of Diane’s birthday, he gave her a different gift each day. As the relationship developed, he has been known to take her flowers and even take her lunch when she was feeling under the weather.

Murphy says of his romantic behavior, “That’s not the typical ruff, gruff Eddie-Murphy-steps-in-the-room-and-the-firefighters-back-up-into-the-corner type person, you know. There are two sides of me,” he said.

“The funny thing about this is, if you know me, I have been described as a no-nonsense sort of person. I want things done then and done right. In the fire service and in Emergency Management (for those who don’t know, Murphy is the Chester County Emergency Management director and chief of the Lando Fire Department), I’m used to being in charge and taking care of whatever comes down the tube. A lot of times, if people don’t know me, they don’t understand the makings of me. The ladies at my church say I’m like a mountain; you have to get on the other side of the hill to understand me,’ Murphy said.

He said of his fiancée, “She’s been like a high school girl or a 20-year-old female, with the giggling and floating up and down the hall. I told her we might have to tie those tie lines on her like they do the balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” he said fondly.

“Being with Diane has given me the enjoyment of somebody to go with me and do the stuff I do that I’ve never had before,” Murphy said. She has already been with Murphy on an emergency call and she is joining the volunteer Chester County CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) team to be with and help her soon-to-be husband when a natural disaster or an emergency strikes.

So when is the wedding? That’s still to be worked out, but there are several days (like the opening of deer season, duck season and dove season) that aren’t going to work. Also, since Diane is a CPA, tax season is out, the couple said. The big day will be “sooner rather than later,” the couple says.

One thing is for sure: even though Eddie Murphy proposed to Diane Yarbrough during a solar eclipse, they won’t get married during one. The next time Diane may see one of her diamond rings is 2024. To see the other one, she only has to look down at her left hand.