Dancing With Di
By Kathy Koches
“DIANA!! I can really see Diana?” I shouted with joy.
I was standing in line in Leicester Square at the half-price/day-of- show ticket booth. The Royal Australian Ballet Company was performing one of my favorite ballets, Giselle. My husband had no interest in attending, and decided to spend the evening in the Sherlock Holmes Pub near the theater. I knew I could get a really good single seat and had decided to go by myself.
As I approached the cashier’s window I saw a small sign taped to the window saying, “Her Royal Highness, The Princess of Wales, will be attending tonight’s performance.” I was so excited I didn’t even care if people were giving me strange looks. I was going to see Princess Diana!
Clutching my ticket I made my way back to the hotel, thinking, “Oh, my gosh, what shall I wear?” I had never met a real live princess before! We were in London on a concert tour and I had packed my long black skirt, fancy white blouse and black jacket, which I wore for performances. I decided this would have to suffice. But my hair! What was I going to do about my hair?
I raced down to the concierge at the hotel and asked if he could possibly find me a hairdresser for that afternoon. He made a call and voila, I had an appointment in one hour at Jean-Pierre’s salon just around the corner from the hotel.
I arrived at the salon and was instantly greeted by the owner/stylist, Jean-Pierre. He pranced over, fingered my hair and said, “Madame, eees thees a special occasion?” “Oh, yes,” I told him. “I am going to the ballet.”
“Mon Dieu – zee ballet? Weeth the PrinCESS?” “Oui” I told him, which was the only French word I knew. “Jean-Pierre will make you look mahvalous, dahling,” he told me and proceeded to work his magic. I was a bit skeptical, but he curled and styled and teased my hair and when he finished he handed me a mirror and stepped back. “Eees fantastic, no?” he asked me. Oh how I wish I had thought to have my picture taken. It was the most beautiful hairdo I have ever had. I felt like a princess myself, ready to go to the ball.
Our taxi arrived and whisked us off to Covent Garden. People were milling around the entrance to the Royal Opera House, and I hurried in to find my seat. Fifth row center – a terrific seat. But I was much more interested in seeing Princess Diana than the ballet.
People began taking their seats, and the lights dimmed. Still I had not seen the Princess. The air crackled with suppressed excitement and anticipation. Suddenly everyone stood up. I had no idea what was going on, but I got to my feet just as everyone turned around. There on the upper level, almost exactly behind my seat, I saw the door open and there she was! She was absolutely stunning, in a beautiful blue gown, with a diamond tiara sparkling in her hair. She was followed by four of her “ladies in waiting” and made her way to her seat. Everyone remained standing until she was seated, and then the performance could begin.
I barely remember the ballet, although I’m sure it was wonderful. But all I could think about was that I was in the very same room with Princess Diana. I must confess I did sneak a few quick glances at her with my opera glasses. I have always been fascinated by the British Royal Family, and especially with Princess Diana. Prince Charles was nowhere to be seen, but this was not surprising, as the rumors had already begun to circulate about “trouble in paradise.”
The house lights came up for the interval, but no one moved. I realized that we must first wait for the Princess to leave before we were allowed to stand. She stood and left her box and then the rest of the audience went for their champagne or gin and tonics. The chimes rang, and we all hurried back to our seats, remaining standing until Princess Diana returned to her seat.
When the ballet was over, the curtain calls finished and the prima ballerina had received her bouquets it was time to repeat the protocol for leaving. We all remained in our seats, but I turned to look at the Princess one last time. She stood and began to leave, but stopped, turned around, and gave the “royal wave” and a big smile to all of us. I swear to this day that she was looking directly at me!
When people ask me what are some of my fondest memories, I always tell them that attending the ballet with Princess Di is towards the top of my list! She was very gracious and beautiful, exactly what you would expect of the People’s Princess.