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The Crown: Yes, Princess Diana’s “Uptown Girl” Performance Really Happened

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Sleep later told CBS how he and Diana had pulled off the surprise the night of the performance.

“She was [sitting] in the royal box,” Sleep said. At a certain point during the evening, he motioned to Diana that it was go time. “She got up and moved quietly away [from Charles]…he was still looking at the stage, thinking she had probably gone to the loo or something. Anyway I came out onto the stage, the music started…I did these big jumps and [the audience] was applauding. I thought, ‘You wait! You just wait!’ Because nobody knew.”

Describing Diana’s grand entrance, Sleep recalled, “She walked out for eight counts…and then stopped, looked at the audience beautifully, and there was a gasp from the audience of 2,500 people who took an intake of breath all at the same time. They were speechless, and she was on fire. She took it, embraced [it] like she had been doing it for hundreds of years.”

At one point in the performance, Sleep said that Diana theatrically pushed him down on the stage, kicked a leg over him, and walked away. The finale was a kick line. “I [did] a pirouette and bowed to her and [the audience] went absolutely wild,” said Sleep, who recalled there being eight curtain calls. Sleep said he told Diana, “You have to bow to the royal box,” meaning toward Charles. Her response, whispered under her breath: “I’m not bowing to him, he’s my hubby.”

Diana was so exhilarated by the applause that Sleep said she wanted to go back onstage for another curtain call: “She said, ‘Let’s do it again, let’s do it again.’ And I said, ‘No, leave them wanting more.’”

A few days after the performance, Diana reportedly sent Sleep a letter, saying, “Now I understand the buzz you get from performing.”

Afterward, Sleep and Diana would occasionally see each other. “She came to my London performances, and would always pop into the dressing room afterwards,” Sleep wrote for The Guardian. “And she would often visit me for dinner at my flat in south Kensington. She would kick off her shoes and we’d have a giggle, talking about this and that: her kids, my work, nothing controversial. I’d cook, and she’d wash up. Her security would wait across the road, in my studio. Later, I knew things were going wrong in her marriage, but I never asked and she never brought it up.”

The “Uptown Girl” performance certainly doesn’t sound as though it helped marital matters for Diana.

Tina Brown wrote in her Princess Diana biography that the royal had “played all her moves to Charles up in the Royal Box. But afterward, when she and Sleep joined the Prince for a small reception, he behaved coolly, even distantly. It was embarrassingly clear that he had not been ravished by the spectacle of his wife en pointe. His disappointing response, when it leaked, was interpreted as frigid disapproval of Diana’s lapse in royal etiquette.”

“It was a present which slightly backfired,” royal expert Richard Kay has confirmed. “She did it as a tribute to Charles. Charles wasn’t terribly impressed. He thought she was showing off.”

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