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The Crown: Did Diana really perform onstage for Prince Charles?

Warning! This article contains spoilers for season four of the Netflix series, The Crown.

There are many awkward moments between Princess Diana and Prince Charles in season four of The Crown—some real and some fictional. One event that topped the list was Diana’s public performance of Uptown Girl for Charles’s birthday in episode nine, “Avalanche.”

Fact Check: Yes, Diana did perform onstage for Prince Charles

Diana danced to Billy Joel’s famous song, “Uptown Girl,” at a private gala at the Royal Opera House in 1985. She danced along professional British dancer, Wayne Sleep. It was a surprise to everyone in the audience. Sleep described the experience in an interview with CBS.

“And I did these big jumps and things which they [the audience] were applauding and I thought, you wait, you just wait, because nobody knew…And she [Diana] walked out for eight counts and then stop! Looked at the audience beautifully and there was a gasp from the audience of 2.500 people…they were speechless. And she was on fire, she took it and embraced it as if she’d been doing it for hundreds of years.”

There’s no video of the actual performance but there are photos.

Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

Charles is shown having a negative reaction to Diana’s dance in The Crown. Diana meant the dance to be given as a present for his birthday, but Charles is depicted being less than pleased with his surprise gift. While Charles reportedly did respond cooly to the performance in real life as well, but the timeline the show presents isn’t quite right.

Prince Charles’s birthday is November 14th, and the performance occurred at a Christmas gala in December of 1985. Diana did intend the dance to be a gift for Charles, but it was a Christmas gift and not a birthday gift as the moment is presented in the Netflix series.

Diana brought the house down with her dance. The Princess and Sleep got a standing ovation and at least eight curtain calls. There is no documented evidence of how Charles reacted to Diana’s dance in private. What fans can rely on though is Sleep’s own recollections of Charles and Diana at the afterparty for the gala.

“Everything seemed fine. I think Diana thought, Just in case, I’ve got Wayne on my side. 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.”

Diana was a huge fan of dancing, and the “Uptown Girl” performance was entirely her idea. You can watch season four of The Crown on Netflix.