Princess Diana’s dance partner Wayne Sleep has revealed the late royal would do his washing-up at his London flat to ‘take a break’ from her everyday life.
The choreographer, 74, who is originally from Plymouth, appeared on BBC Radio 3’s Private Passions where he spoke about his friendship with the mother-of-two.
In 1985, the pair performed a routine to Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl during a charity gala at the Royal Opera House in London to mark King Charles’s 37th birthday.
Having struck up a friendship during rehearsals, Wayne says he kept in touch with Princess Diana long after their performance and gushed about her ‘wittiness’.
He told host Michael Berkeley: ‘Whenever we saw each other again, the shoes came off at my flat, she’d do the dishes, it would be fun and we’d giggle.
Princess Diana and Wayne Sleep pictured performing their routine to Uptown Girl at the Royal Opera House in London in December 1985
‘I think she didn’t come to me so much for the serious part that was going on in her life at the time, and things were moving so fast there, I think she just came to me for a break.’
During the radio segment, Wayne said he first met Diana in a small dance studio in the 1980s – and they became fast friends.
At first, Wayne says he wasn’t sure how they could make the dance work because of Diana’s 5ft 10in stature.
Describing how they had a similar sense of humour, Wayne said Diana called him a ‘naughty boy’ after he confessed to having a ‘very late night’ during their first early morning meeting.
Elsewhere in the interview, the dancer – who was the Senor Principal at the Royal Ballet – discussed the lengths they went to keep their performance a secret.
As well as practicing their routine in multiple different venues, the pair kept the surprise within a tight circle of people.
Watch video Dancing with Diana: Princess wowed audience in surprise appearance
Explaining how Diana’s lady-in-waiting, Anne Beckwith-Smith, and his coach, Alan, were in on the secret, Wayne said the people who knew had concerns over how it would play out.
He added: ‘They were all scared for their lives or their jobs… if we’d done a funny little routine that was naff.’
However, the professional said it was clear Diana had a talent for dancing from the early days of their rehearsals – as the Princess had studied ballet as a child.
The choreographer, 74, appeared on BBC Radio 3’s Private Passions where he spoke about his friendship with the mother-of-two
Elsewhere in the interview, Wayne says he gave Diana a gentle ‘push’ to get her to bow to King Charles in the royal box. The couple pictured during their Australia tour in 1985
Reflecting on the night of the performance itself, Wayne says it was drastically different to how it was portrayed in season four of The Crown.
While the Netflix series showed the crowds cheering the moment Diana, played by Emma Corrin, walked out on stage, Wayne says he could hear the 2,500 audience members gasping.
However, he says the crowds did later reach that level of excitement – resulting in the pair being lured out for eight curtain calls.
In previous interviews, Wayne has said that people originally assumed Diana was a lookalike when she took to the stage.
As a result, Wayne says Diana wrote to him days later saying she could now appreciate the ‘buzz’ that comes from live performance.
The pair received eight curtain calls following their performance and Wayne says Diana wrote to him afterwards to gush about the ‘buzz’ she felt
Sleep’s 1985 dance to Uptown Girl with Princess Diana was recreated in Season four of The Crown, above, with Jay Webb playing the flamboyant star accompanying the Princess, portrayed by Emma Corrin
What’s more, the dancer claims he even gave Diana a gentle push to bow to her husband – who was seated in the Royal Box.
As they left the stage, Wayne claims Diana jokingly turned to him and said: ‘You won’t get your OBE like that!’
Last week, Wayne told the Daily Mail that Princess Diana would have relished The Crown’s depiction of her life and marriage.
He said: ‘Diana would have absolutely loved it. It spares nobody! Everybody gets their innings.’
However, Princess Diana wasn’t the only royal who liked to get stuck into some housework.
Appearing on Vicky Pattison’s The Secret podcast in December 2020, former royal butler Paul Burrell said The Queen always liked to help out with the dishes at Balmoral.
He explained: ‘[The Queen] does like to go on picnics, but the food is all prepared.
‘She likes to wash up. She puts on the Marigolds and when she goes out to the log cabin at Balmoral she is stood there with her Marigolds on and she washes up and the lady in waiting dries.’