Princess Diana's Real-Life "Uptown Girl" Dance Partner Opens Up: "We Brought the House Down"

Chloe Foussianes
·2 min read
Photo credit: Alex Bailey - Netflix
Photo credit: Alex Bailey - Netflix

From Town & Country

The Crown's fourth season reminded royal watchers of one of Princess Diana's most loved stunts: her surprise dance performance of Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" at the Royal Opera House. It was a night her dance partner, Wayne Sleep, remembers well.

The dancer and choreographer opened up to Vulture about the whole experience, from agreeing to be a part of Diana's secret plan to bringing "the house down with humor" the night of.

"She said, 'I’d like to dance a duet with you,'" Sleep said of the Princess's proposition. "I thought she must be crazy! It could be taken the wrong way, or she could get a much taller and more handsome boy from the ballet. But she was insistent and said, 'No, I want to do it with you, I want to be your uptown girl.' I was like, 'You already are my uptown girl, darling, and you know it!' She told me she got a recording of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” and she wanted it to be a surprise to her hubby for Christmas. She didn’t want him to know about it."

Video: Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s whirlwind romance

Sleep, of course, was a professional—but the Princess didn't disappoint, either. "When Diana walked on after I did my turns and jumps, she strode in like a tigress," he said. "We only did one rehearsal that day on a closed set... She couldn’t have danced it better. I was the nervous one! I was shaking in the wings. What if she doesn’t like it? What if I dropped the future Queen of England?"

As for the audience's reaction, it was an overwhelming hit—after they realized it was really the Princess of Wales onstage, that is. "Then, collectively, they all realized who it really was. Everyone’s mouths gaped open. There was an intake of breath like they couldn’t believe it. The noise got bigger and bigger. We did eight curtain calls. I had to bow every time and I was like, 'You got to bow to the Prince.' And she said, 'No, I’m not bowing to him, he’s my hubby. You won’t get your OBE with those comments!'"

As for Prince Charles's reaction after the fact, Sleep alluded to some small—but not major—awkwardness at the afterparty. "Everything seemed fine. I think Diana thought, 'Just in case, I’ve got Wayne on my side,'" Sleep said. "I’m going to keep my mouth closed on what it was like to be there. He had a raised eyebrow, you might say. It didn’t go any further than that at the party."

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