Princess Diana's dance partner, Wayne Sleep, was one of the late royal's most trusted friends after their friendship blossomed during dance rehearsals. The pair got to know each other after Diana contacted him to coach her for a surprise performance at London's Royal Opera House back in December 1985.
Several weeks ahead of the event - Friends of Covent Garden - the two friends secretly choreographed a dance to Billy Joel's Uptown Girl as a birthday present to Prince Charles. This performance went down in history, and was recently reimagined in The Crown.
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Opening up about their close bond, British dancer Wayne - who performed for some years with the Royal Ballet – recalled some fond memories, including the times he would occasionally cook for Diana at his home.
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"She used to come to my house and I'd cook trout in almonds, I'd also have a lovely cake at the end. Little chocolates for the boys or something silly," he exclusively told HELLO!.
"Every birthday I used to send up to the Palace a silly present for the boys – when they were like four or something. She would always phone me during the evenings. I would say, 'How's it going?' But a lot of it is a bit private."
Wayne and Diana did a surprise performance at London's Royal Opera House in December 1985
The dancer and choreographer, who is also an expert in jazz, tap and contemporary dance, also reflected on how Diana showed so much warmth and kindness when his mother passed away.
"When my mother died, she sent me a letter saying she was sorry," he shared. "Diana invited my mother and father to the Palace every Christmas – for the Christmas party with the staff. They loved it. Sometimes I went with them."
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On the topic of the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex reuniting for their mother's statue unveiling – on what would have been her 60th birthday this month, Wayne could not help but feel sorrow for their loss.
"All I care about really are her sons at this time because it would have been lovely to have their mother live a long life like my own mother who was 72 [when she passed away]," he continued.
"That was better than nothing. To die at such a young age is a very sad thought for me, for the family. I think that's what I care most about is the boys, not being able to grow up with their mum."
Both William and Harry at their mother's statue unveiling
Both Wayne and Diana forged a close bond over their shared sense of humour and a love of dance he says would still be a part of her life.
"She'd probably be teaching me how to keep my shoulders down and would be looking on Google to see what I was up to and if I was being naughty," he joked. "We had the same schoolboy humour," the dancer added.
"I was her sort-of jester, in a way, but we did get on incredibly well. We had something that clicked. She had natural style. She could do the high kick, she could do a pirouette and she had lovely swinging hips.
"She had that thing called charisma. She was charismatic and even when she spoke with that very quiet voice, it was something that pulled you in and you just wanted to embrace her all the time."
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