Had it been up to Princess Diana, her iconic dance with John Travolta would not have happened. According to the late Princess of Wales's butler, Paul Burrell, the royal mom-of-two wanted to hit the dance floor with actor Mikhail Baryshnikov instead of the Grease star during her 1985 visit to the White House. "[First Lady] Nancy and [President] Ronny Regan set up the press to take a picture of her dancing with John Travolta,” the Princess's butler revealed during ABC's The Last 100 Days of Diana TV special on Sunday night. “She said, 'I didn't really want to dance with him though. I wanted to dance with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Because he is my hero." Mikhail played the Russian artist, Aleksandr Petrovsky, who stole Carrie Bradshaw’s heart on the hit HBO series Sex and the City.
VER GALERÍA Diana danced with John at the White House back in 1985 Photo: WireImage
This isn't the first time Paul has spoken about Diana's desire to dance with Mikhail. In his biography The Way We Were, he wrote that Diana said, "John Travolta was a gentleman and absolutely charming but he wasn't my chosen partner." Paul also noted that Prince William's mom had once met Mikhail at a stage door of a London theatre so he would autograph her book. "He had signed it without looking at her," Paul shared.
Though Prince Charles’ ex-wife might not have had her heart set on dancing with the Saturday Night Fever star, John regards it as one of his most significant moments of the '80s. “I didn’t know or expect to dance with Princess Diana, and it was the president’s wife, Nancy Reagan, that said, 'It is her wish,'” the 63-year-old actor told Dutch TV station Één in 2007. “At midnight, I had to tap her on her shoulder, and I had to say, 'Would you care to dance.' She turned around and dipped her head in that Lady Diana way and we were off for 15 minutes dancing. I’ll never forget it. I’m so honored that I was able to experience it, and I know for a fact that it was a highlight of being in the United States; it was her favorite moment. So I feel I made her life better; she made my life better; and I’m very sorry that she’s not here.”
VER GALERÍA The late Princess would have rather danced with her "hero," dancer and actor Mikhail Baryshnikov Photo: Getty Images
The People vs. O.J. Simpson actor opened up about his royal moment again in 2014, this time detailing the reason why he didn’t feel any nerves while dancing with the Princess. "Because I’d seen her dance with [Prince] Charles beforehand so I knew that she was strong. But she looked like she was leading [him] and because I knew that the world was watching I thought that I really needed to give her certainty that I knew what to do,” he explained to the Telegragh. “I put my hand in the middle of her back, brought her hand down so that it wouldn’t be so high and gave her the confidence that we would do just fine.”