Princess Diana’s ‘Uptown Girl’ Dance in ‘The Crown’ Actually Happened
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 9 of The Crown, “Avalanche.”]
While the show does closely follow historical events and credited accounts of things that happened behind the scenes in the royal couple’s lives, there’s always the understanding that this drama does as its genre suggests — it dramatizes. So, there’s always a question of whether or not you’re being fed true-to-life moments, especially if they’re not well-documented.
One such event from Season 4 includes Diana’s (Emma Corrin) surprise performance for Prince Charles (Josh O’Conner) at the Royal Opera House for his 37th birthday. When she strutted on stage to Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl,” the audience’s reaction was likely mirroring your own as the princess shocked viewers with her spectacle.
The performance is depicted in the season’s penultimate episode, “Avalanche.” The truth behind this tale is that Diana had in fact performed at the Royal Opera House in 1985. Whether Charles’ poor reaction to her public display of affection is entirely true remains unclear, but it was no secret the prince harbored some jealousy towards his more popular wife.
In 2017, the dancer, Wayne Sleep, who performed with Diana on stage that night back in the ’80s, opened up about the shocking moment in an interview for 48 Hours. “She was in the royal box… and she was sitting with Prince Charles. I was in the wings… and at a certain point, I said, ‘now’ to her, and she got up and moved quietly away.”
In the episode of The Crown, Diana tells Charles that she is going to powder her nose, which mirrors Sleep’s assumption, “[Prince Charles] was still looking at the stage, thinking she’s probably gone to the loo or something.”
Despite the fact that there was no footage of the performance, Diana’s dance with Sleep was captured in photographs which still exist today. “There was a gasp in the audience of 2,500 people who took an intake of breath all at the same time,” Sleep remembered. “They were speechless.”
While the shock factor remains high when it comes to Diana’s dance spotlight, it’s definitely one event The Crown got right, down to the white dress, some killer moves and that toe-tapping tune. As Sleep recounted the real-life performance, he said, “she was on fire.” We can only imagine.
The Crown, Season 4, Streaming now, Netflix