PRINCESS DIANA turned heads when she made a stunning entrance to a dinner held at the White House back in 1985 – but popstar Madonna apparently refused to attend the star-studded event, according to an insider.
Diana shot to fame when she wed Prince Charles in 1981, quickly becoming one of the world’s most photographed women. Royal fans from around the world loved her for her compassion and beauty, and she soon became an icon of the fashion world. By 1985, she had been on the royal frontline for four years but the level of support she had showed no sign of slowing down.
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Her pivotal tour with Charles to the US that year included a special evening of entertainment held at the White House, Washington, hosted by then-President Ronald Reagan.
According to James Whitaker, the Daily Mirror’s royal correspondent at the time, Diana was keenly interested in the A-listers who attended — although some refused an invitation.
Speaking to the BBC’s Witness History in 2011, Mr Whitaker said: “She was always enraptured with show-bizzy types, slight eccentrics, people who were slightly quirky.
“Diana was in her element.”
He said John Travolta, star of Saturday Night Fever and Grease, fellow actors Clint Eastwood, Tom Selleck and singer Neil Diamond all attended the formal gala dinner.
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Princess Diana and popstar Madonna (Image: Getty)
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Charles, Ronald Reagan, Nancy Reagan and Diana in 1985, at the White House (Image: Getty)
Mr Whitaker continued: “It was a very, very smart [guest] list.
“[But], in fact, one or two didn’t appear – Madonna, who was originally invited, got a note from Nancy Reagan which said, ‘Can you assure me that you won’t wear some outrageous dress?’
“Madonna replied and said, ‘No’, she couldn’t assure her.
“She didn’t stay on the list.”
Hollywood actor Robert Redford, too, was invited but did not go, to his “deep” regret according to Mr Whitaker, although the royal correspondent noted that “he actually dealt with it very stylishly”.
Madonna has been known for her controversial outfits throughout her career (L in 2019, R in 1985) (Image: Getty)
Mr Redford then sent Charles some champagne to apologise for his absence, and three dozen red roses to Diana.
Instead, Mr Whitaker explained: “The evening’s entertainment was mainly provided by Neil Diamond, who of course sang for the royal couple.”
Diana’s outfit was heavily praised by royal fans and commentators alike that night – but she caused a further stir when she danced with John Travolta in front of all the attendees.
The following day, at the royal press conference, Charles even had to answer questions regarding his wife’s time on the dance floor with the actor.
Diana news: The Princess of Wales pictured dancing in the White House with John Travolta (Image: Getty)
Diana with the First Lady (L), Diana’s dancing may have frustrated Charles, at the press conference the next day (R) (Image: Getty)
Charles said: “I’m not a glove puppet, so I can’t answer for that I’m afraid.”
On a softer note, he turned to his wife: “But I think you enjoyed it, didn’t you, darling?
“She would be an idiot if she didn’t enjoy dancing with John Travolta wouldn’t she?”
Mr Whitaker also claimed that Diana had her heart set on dancing with Mikhail Baryshnikov, the ballet dancer.
Yet, he was injured on the night so he was the only man unable to dance during the evening.
Princess Diana received a great deal of attention during her time in the US (Image: Getty)
The trip also highlighted key tensions between Charles and Diana which had been brewing for several years at this point.
Charles, as the eldest child of the Queen, had been at the centre of the spotlight ever since his birth.
Expected to one day take the crown himself, he had been a source of fascination for the public for years and even dubbed the ‘world’s most eligible bachelor’ during his single twenties.
However, when Diana came onto the scene she took the limelight.
Charles struggled to cope with the shift in dynamic, especially as her overwhelming popularity was always evident when the two went on tours overseas – as seen in the enthusiastic reaction to Diana in the US in 1985, and the attention she received from all the stars.
Diana continued to be drawn to celebrity circles even after her split from Charles.
Her friendship with Elton John has been well-documented, and many have alluded to her close relationships with George Michael and Freddie Mercury over the years.
Source: EXPRESS CO UK