Princess Diana’s secret ballet school visits are revealed in never-before-seen photos


As a child she dreamt of being a classical dancer, modelling herself on the great ballerinas of the age. 

But despite her youthful promise, honed by hours of practise on the polished floors of Althorp, the family home, Princess Diana’s ambition was thwarted by growing too tall – and a teenage skiing accident.

She did, however, never lose her love of ballet and it remained a passion for the rest of her life.

Just how much it meant to her is revealed in a unique collection of photographs of Diana’s visits – both public and private – to the London City Ballet.

Princess Diana never lost her childhood love of ballet. Just how much it meant to her is revealed in a unique collection of photographs of Diana’s visits – both public and private – to the London City Ballet

Princess Diana never lost her childhood love of ballet. Just how much it meant to her is revealed in a unique collection of photographs of Diana’s visits – both public and private – to the London City Ballet

Whenever Princess Diana had a spare moment she would drop in to the London City Ballet company's Covent Garden studio

Whenever Princess Diana had a spare moment she would drop in to the London City Ballet company’s Covent Garden studio

Princess Diana's dream of becoming a ballerina thwarted by growing too tall – and a teenage skiing accident - despite hours of practise on the polished floors of Althorp, the family home

Princess Diana’s dream of becoming a ballerina thwarted by growing too tall – and a teenage skiing accident – despite hours of practise on the polished floors of Althorp, the family home

The princess presided over glittering occasions around the world for the modest London City Ballet troupe, the first ballet company she patronised

The princess presided over glittering occasions around the world for the modest London City Ballet troupe, the first ballet company she patronised

These photos, which only came to light after South African-born choreographer Harold King's death after 70 last year,  are being sold by Colchester-based auctioneers Reeman Dansie, which specialises in royal memorabilia

These photos, which only came to light after South African-born choreographer Harold King’s death after 70 last year,  are being sold by Colchester-based auctioneers Reeman Dansie, which specialises in royal memorabilia

From 1983 until her divorce from the Prince of Wales in 1996, when she relinquished most of her charities, the princess presided over glittering occasions around the world for the modest troupe, the first ballet company she patronised.

It was Harold King, a diminutive South African-born choreographer, who charmed Diana into joining his independent company.

And it is his photographs of their collaboration, which only came to light after his death aged 70 last year, that are being sold by Colchester-based auctioneers Reeman Dansie, which specialises in royal memorabilia.

The collection of photos which show Princess Diana at the London City Ballet's Covent Garden studio up for auction at Reeman Dansie Colchester

The collection of photos which show Princess Diana at the London City Ballet’s Covent Garden studio up for auction at Reeman Dansie Colchester

Whenever Princess Diana had a spare moment she would drop in to the London City Ballet company's Covent Garden studio

Whenever Princess Diana had a spare moment she would drop in to the London City Ballet company’s Covent Garden studio

Princess Diana dreamt of being a classical dancer, modelling herself on the great ballerinas of the age as she was growing up

Princess Diana dreamt of being a classical dancer, modelling herself on the great ballerinas of the age as she was growing up

Princess Diana was first invited to the London City Ballet's Covent Garden studio by Harold King with a simple phone call to Buckingham Palace

Princess Diana was first invited to the London City Ballet’s Covent Garden studio by Harold King with a simple phone call to Buckingham Palace

From 1983 until her divorce from the Prince of Wales in 1996, when she relinquished most of her charities, the princess presided over glittering occasions around the world for the modest troupe, the first ballet company she patronised

From 1983 until her divorce from the Prince of Wales in 1996, when she relinquished most of her charities, the princess presided over glittering occasions around the world for the modest troupe, the first ballet company she patronised

It was Harold King, a diminutive South African-born choreographer, who charmed Diana into joining his independent company. And these are his photographs of their collaboration

It was Harold King, a diminutive South African-born choreographer, who charmed Diana into joining his independent company. And these are his photographs of their collaboration

Whenever Princess Diana had a spare moment she would drop in to the London City Ballet company's Covent Garden studio

Whenever Princess Diana had a spare moment she would drop in to the London City Ballet company’s Covent Garden studio

Princess Diana at a glitzy event

Princess Diana observes rehearsals

Princess Diana presides over glittering occasions (left) around the world for the modest troupe, the first ballet company she patronised. The princess would drop in to the London City Ballet company’s Covent Garden studio (right)

The pictures offer a fascinating glimpse into Diana’s enduring attachment to the company and her unfailing support for King, whose breezy, classless personality she adored. 

Thanks to her, the ballet’s galas frequently boasted stars from the world of dance and royalty – including the King and Queen of Norway and Queen Noor of Jordan. 

Indeed, it was Diana that conceived a plan to help propel it from a tiny cash-strapped company to one with an international reputation.

When their version of Carmen was staged in Oslo in 1985, Diana made a point of visiting. On her return to Britain she dropped a bombshell – she was pregnant with Prince Harry.

As King recalled: ‘She timed the announcement very carefully, knowing that the most recent photographs would be of her with us in Norway. The newspapers scrambled to get them to see if the pregnancy was showing yet.’

Princess Diana was first invited to the London City Ballet's Covent Garden studio by Harold King with a simple phone call to Buckingham Palace

Princess Diana was first invited to the London City Ballet’s Covent Garden studio by Harold King with a simple phone call to Buckingham Palace

‘She squatted down on the floor and talked to all the dancers. She accepted coffee in a paper cup,’ said Harold King, who first invited her with a simple phone call to Buckingham Palace. ‘All the other ballet companies were green with envy'

‘She squatted down on the floor and talked to all the dancers. She accepted coffee in a paper cup,’ said Harold King, who first invited her with a simple phone call to Buckingham Palace. ‘All the other ballet companies were green with envy’

Princess Diana dreamt of being a classical dancer, modelling herself on the great ballerinas of the age as she was growing up

Princess Diana dreamt of being a classical dancer, modelling herself on the great ballerinas of the age as she was growing up

Princess Diana attended glittering occasions for the London City Ballet, the first company she patronised after becoming friendly with Harold King

Princess Diana attended glittering occasions for the London City Ballet, the first company she patronised after becoming friendly with Harold King

Whenever Princess Diana had a spare moment she would drop in to the London City Ballet company's Covent Garden studio

Whenever Princess Diana had a spare moment she would drop in to the London City Ballet company’s Covent Garden studio

Princess Diana was first invited to the London City Ballet's Covent Garden studio by Harold King with a simple phone call to Buckingham Palace

Princess Diana was first invited to the London City Ballet’s Covent Garden studio by Harold King with a simple phone call to Buckingham Palace

From 1983 until her divorce from the Prince of Wales in 1996, when she relinquished most of her charities, the princess presided over glittering occasions around the world for the modest troupe, the first ballet company she patronised

From 1983 until her divorce from the Prince of Wales in 1996, when she relinquished most of her charities, the princess presided over glittering occasions around the world for the modest troupe, the first ballet company she patronised

Just how much dance meant to Princess Diana is revealed in a unique collection of photographs of Diana’s visits – both public and private – to the London City Ballet

Just how much dance meant to Princess Diana is revealed in a unique collection of photographs of Diana’s visits – both public and private – to the London City Ballet

Whenever she had a spare moment she would drop in to the ballet’s Covent Garden studio, where she squatted on the floor and spoke to the dancers

Whenever she had a spare moment she would drop in to the ballet’s Covent Garden studio, where she squatted on the floor and spoke to the dancers

Whenever she had a spare moment she would drop in to the ballet’s Covent Garden studio.

‘She squatted down on the floor and talked to all the dancers. She accepted coffee in a paper cup,’ said King, who first invited her with a simple phone call to Buckingham Palace. ‘All the other ballet companies were green with envy.’

After her wedding, Diana hired dance coach Anne Allen to teach her at Kensington Palace. 

In 1985 she danced at the Royal Opera House to pop hit Uptown Girl. At 5ft 11in, the princess towered over partner Wayne Sleep, 5ft 2in.

It was Diana that conceived a plan to help propel it from a tiny cash-strapped company to one with an international reputation. When their version of Carmen was staged in Oslo in 1985, Diana made a point of visiting. On her return to Britain she dropped a bombshell – she was pregnant with Prince Harry

It was Diana that conceived a plan to help propel it from a tiny cash-strapped company to one with an international reputation. When their version of Carmen was staged in Oslo in 1985, Diana made a point of visiting. On her return to Britain she dropped a bombshell – she was pregnant with Prince Harry

Princess Diana was first invited to the London City Ballet's Covent Garden studio by Harold King with a simple phone call to Buckingham Palace

Princess Diana was first invited to the London City Ballet’s Covent Garden studio by Harold King with a simple phone call to Buckingham Palace

Princess Diana dreamt of being a classical dancer, modelling herself on the great ballerinas of the age as she was growing up

Princess Diana dreamt of being a classical dancer, modelling herself on the great ballerinas of the age as she was growing up

When Princess Diana visited the London City Ballet's Covent Garden studio she would squat down on the floor and talk to all the dancers

When Princess Diana visited the London City Ballet’s Covent Garden studio she would squat down on the floor and talk to all the dancers

Whenever Princess Diana had a spare moment she would drop in to the London City Ballet company's Covent Garden studio

Whenever Princess Diana had a spare moment she would drop in to the London City Ballet company’s Covent Garden studio

Princess Diana watches on as dancers at the London City Ballet's rehearse at the company's Covent Garden studio

Princess Diana watches on as dancers at the London City Ballet’s rehearse at the company’s Covent Garden studio



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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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