The True Story of Diana’s Uptown Woman Dance with Wayne Sleep

Princess Diana’s renegade efficiency of “Uptown Woman” for a shocked opera viewers (and a really dismayed and mortified Prince Charles) was a killer plot level within the ninth episode of The Crown’s fourth season. However whereas it makes for intoxicating tv, how did the 1985 occasion play out in actuality?

Because it occurs, Diana’s pas de deux with skilled dancer Wayne Sleep on the Royal Opera Home was very a lot taken from actual life, and it provoked similar shocked reactions from the gang and, specifically, Charles. Learn on for particulars on the true story.

Who was Diana’s companion?

Lengthy a dancer, Diana approached Wayne Sleep, a member of the Royal Ballet, years earlier to see if he might provide her classes. His schedule didn’t permit him to say sure on the time, however after, she hatched the thought to bop throughout an annual efficiency for the Mates of Covent Backyard held on the Royal Opera Home.

When Sleep entered the Royal Ballet College, he was, at 5’2”, the shortest male dancer in its historical past. His untraditional type allowed him to play unorthodox components, and plenty of high choreographers create roles for him. After leaving the Royal Ballet, Sleep moved over to musical theater, the place he originated the function of Mister Mistoffelees in Cats on the West Finish. In 1973, he set a world file for doing the quickest entrechat douze, a soar that requires twelve beats of the ft.

sleep in les patineurs

A younger Wayne Sleep dancing in 1966.

David CairnsGetty Photographs

“She’d seen numerous my work in Covent Backyard. Nicely you possibly can say she was a fan I suppose. She rang me and stated, ‘I need to dance with you at Covent Backyard this Christmas for the massive Christmas gala get together that they do as a thanks to all of the supporters of the opera home,’” Sleep stated on Superstar Massive Brother in 2018. “I met her and I believe she was within the headband and the leg heaters, the leotard and the tights. She stated, ‘I need to do a quantity with you to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Woman.”‘ I choreographed a three-minute quantity for her and he or she saved it a shock for her husband for Christmas.”

What was the efficiency like?

Sleep recalled the massive night time in a 2017 piece in The Guardian. “On the night time, I used to be first on stage. There was an enormous spherical of applause and I believed, ‘You ain’t seen nothing but,’” he stated. “The viewers gasped when Diana appeared, as in the event that they’d all taken one enormous breath. The routine had a little bit of every thing: jazz, ballet, even a kickline. At one level, I pirouetted and he or she pushed me down; then I carried her throughout the stage. I keep in mind pondering, ‘Don’t drop the longer term Queen of England.’ She cherished it, however was most thrilled we’d saved it secret from Charles, and our rehearsals away from the paparazzi.”

emma corrin as princess diana and jay webb as wayne sleep in the crown season 4

Emma Corrin as Princess Diana and Jay Webb as Wayne Sleep in The Crown season four.


He believed her to be a real dancer at coronary heart and stated she was more than happy with the present. “She cherished the liberty dancing gave her. A couple of days later, I acquired a letter. She wrote: ‘Now I perceive the excitement you get from performing.’

Sleep described the total efficiency within the CBS documentary Princess Diana: Her Life, Her Demise, Her Fact.

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What did Charles suppose?

charles and diana unhappy

Tim GrahamGetty Photographs

A lot as we noticed within the sequence, the shock efficiency, which was meant as a gift of kinds for the Prince, didn’t please him. “It was a gift which barely backfired,” stated author Richard Kay. “She did it as a tribute to Charles. Charles wasn’t terribly impressed. He thought she was displaying off.”

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