Princess Diana would light up every room she walked into, and luckily for Lea Salonga, the singer was able to experience the royal's angelic presence firsthand. The Filipina artist was playing the lead role of Kim in Miss Saigon when Diana attended one of her performances in 1989, in aid of The Prince's Trust.
"Everybody in the company was nervous because we all remembered her royal wedding," Lea told HELLO!. "She was so beautiful and very tall. It's almost like in Lord of the Rings when Galadriel walks into the room – it's kind of like that feeling. I think every sci-fi nerd will understand what that is. She just seemed so different; not removed, not aloof, nothing like that, she was very nice but when you looked at her you just felt, she's not one of us!"
Princess Diana attended a charity performance of Miss Saigon in 1989
Lea, who lent her singing voice to Princess Jasmine in the hit 1992 Disney classic Aladdin, said: "It was almost like she was floating. I remember she was wearing a sky blue, very flowy gown with a matching scarf, a very long one that ran down her back. I just remember she floated. She didn't walk, she floated."
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A few years later, the actress had the chance to perform in front of the Queen and Prince Philip at the Royal Variety Show. Admitting that she was a little starstruck, Lea said: "It can be a little intimidating when you see these people and you know who they are and their place in history. Seeing them face to face is a lot and it can be nerve-wracking.
"When you looked at her you just felt, she's not one of us!" said Lea
"I remember Her Majesty smiling, being lovely to everybody. She spent pretty much an equal amount of time with everyone. It never felt like she was rushing through the line. And the cool thing with that – you feel like you're seen. There's eye contact, there's a smile and even though it's very polite and I don't think she remembers even five percent of the people she's met, you feel like you mattered even if your exchange lasted all of five seconds, which was very sweet."
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Lea added of Prince Philip: "And her husband had a really nice sense of humour. There was something about him – very masculine, very strong. He was a man's man, that was the impression I got of him."
Lea is returning to the UK next year
The musical theatre legend is returning to the UK next year for a string of concerts in Manchester, London, Birmingham and Cardiff. Ahead of her comeback, the Disney star, who also voiced Fa Mulan in Mulan, said: "To get to perform in the West End and in the London Palladium, I'm very excited. It's something I'm really looking forward to. Fans can expect to hear the songs that they're wanting to hear from Miss Saigon and Les Mis. I usually pull someone out of the crowd to do a duet with me to A Whole New World. We have some incredible singers who come up on the stage and I usually end up with my jaw on the floor, so I'm hoping London will provide!"
Despite having performed thousands of times, the humble star, who was the first Asian woman to win a Tony Award, admitted: "I absolutely get nervous, even if I've done a show 100 times, even if it's songs I have sung literally thousands of times. It never gets old. That feeling of excitement and nervousness, slight panic and anxiety, I think that's a good thing – because it means you care."
Tickets for Lea's show are available at LiveNation.co.uk.