Monthly Archives: February 2011

Diana, A Celebration, Union Station Kansas City: Princess Diana: The dancer and lover of dance

When she was a child, Princess Diana dreamed of being a ballet dancer, and it was not just an idle fancy. She followed her passion throughout her life, even though she did not have the classic ballet dancer’s body.

Diana was tall at five feet ten inches — too tall. But the fact that she could not dance with the English National Ballet or the City Ballet of London did not stop her from supporting them.

In fact, Diana’s support went well beyond giving to a fund. She got to know dancers personally and provided help to them when it was needed. She was particularly concerned about dancers who suffered from eating disorders resulting from their efforts to control their weight.

However, her financial help was not something to be discounted. Richard Shaw, a spokesman for the English National Ballet at the time of Diana’s death, said that whenever Diana attended a fund-raising gala for the company, it would raise about $75,000. That sum was in addition to her personal efforts.

“She knew how to give a performance, to deliver what people expected,” Shaw said of the princess. “I’m sure that’s why she admired dancers, as well as being genuinely fond of them.”

Often, Diana’s sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, would go to the ballet with their mother. Rather than sit in the royal box, they would take regular seats and, during intermissions, have ice cream.

Diana did not stop taking ballet lessons when she was a child. Even though she knew she would not dance professionally, she took lessons up again after she married the Prince of Wales. She realized her dream at least in part when she danced a jazz routine with Wayne Sleep, Royal Ballet principal, at a Friends of the Royal Opera House gala in 1986.

Following Diana’s death in 1997, Peter Schaufuss developed a full-length ballet called Diana — The Princess. Schaufuss was artistic director of the English National Ballet when Princess Diana was the company’s patron.

The artistic director of the City Ballet of London, Harold King, said about Diana that she “got joy out of associating with dancers. She wanted to be part of our world, and she was.” Dance was just one more aspect of life that Diana embraced with passionate intensity.

Diana, A Celebration, opens at Union Station Kansas City on March 4, 2011,  and runs through June 12, 2011. More than 500 items, including the princess’s wedding gown, will be on display in nine galleries in the Bank of America Gallery. The exhibition is open six days a week, and tickets are available for as little as $10 for Union Station members through TicketMaster and


Meinertz, Alexander. “Dancing Diana — Ballet about Princess Diana,” Dance Magazine, August 2003.

Parry, Jann. “Diana: A lifetime love affair with dance,” Dance Magazine, November 1997.

Silverman, Stephen M. “Mixed Reactions to Offbeat Diana Ballet,”,,1036022,00.html.


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Diana, A Celebration, Union Station Kansas City: Lady Diana Meets the Prince

It wouldn’t be far off the mark to say that Diana Spencer, the future Princess of Wales, had a girlhood crush on Charles, Prince of Wales. She was 16 when Charles visited the Spencer ancestral home, Althorp, in 1977. After that encounter, Lady Diana apparently found it difficult to stop talking about the prince.

The occasion of the visit — a hunt — wasn’t particularly auspicious for a budding romance.  At the time, Charles was involved with Diana’s older sister, Sarah. The prince and Sarah had become something of an item. They’d been seen together frequently, and Queen Elizabeth had even invited Sarah to Balmoral, a signal that the relationship was being taken seriously at the highest levels.

Then Charles arrived at Althorp, Diana seems to have captured his attention, if not his heart, with her rather boisterous ways. Sarah was not pleased. When Charles asked Diana to show him the famous Althorp Picture Gallery, Sarah stepped in and took control, dismissing Diana rather peremptorily.

Charles was not to be put off. He continued to pay attention to the teenager, dancing with her that evening and continuing to chat with her during the shooting the next day.

It’s fairly clear now that more was being made of the connection between Sarah and Charles than actually existed. The “romance” was not a romance at all but rather a platonic meeting of two people who enjoyed each other’s company. So, when Diana, even at so young an age, bounced onto the scene, the playing field was open.

Of course, Diana was too young, and it would be another four years before Prince Charles and the Lady Spencer married. She would be 20. He would be 32.

From the first real meeting of the two young people at Althorp that November of 1977, Diana seems to have dreamed that she would one day be the Princess of Wales.  According to Penny Walker, Diana’s piano teacher and the form mistress at her school, the young girl was smitten.

Biographer Sarah Bradford quotes Penny Walker in Diana: Finally, the Complete Story: “[Diana] was always talking about Prince Charles . . . . I can remember the weekend she came back after she’d met him, because she couldn’t talk about anything else. She said: ‘I’ve met him! At last I’ve met him. . . .’ She had pictures of him up in her cubicle. It wasn’t entirely unusual for a girl from that kind of background, but it was unusual because it was so consistent all the time she was at school. Her only talk was of him and meeting him. I’m not sure there was any talk about marrying, but she just seemed completely besotted, dreaming of escape, I should think, into fairytale.”

Diana, A Celebration, opens March 4, 2011, at Union Station Kansas City and runs through June 12, 2011. This is the exhibition’s last North American stop before it returns to England. It has seen great success wherever it has appeared in this country, greatly surpassing attendance expectations. To learn more, visit Tickets are available at


Bradford, Sarah. Diana: Finally, the Complete Story


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Diana, A Celebration, Union Station Kansas City: The princess, the publisher, the opera star and the AIDS activist

Trips to the U.S. were always filled with activity for Princess Diana. Her calendar was full long before her plane landed, and it always contained events where she would be shoulder-to-shoulder with the rich and famous.

A fairly typical short visit occurred one autumn in the mid-1990s. Diana had been facing considerable hostility from the upper echelons of British society because of her deteriorating relationship with Prince Charles. The media in England were either for her or against her.

Diana arrived to a completely different mood in America. Here, none of her popularity and cooled. She was treated as what she was: royalty.

Diana’s portraitist, Nelson Shanks, celebrated with a dinner in her honor at New York’s National Arts Club. Among the guests was the world-famous opera star Luciano Pavarotti. He and Diana were close friends, and Pavarotti showed his appreciation with a huge hug.

The dinner over, Diana retired to the Carlyle Hotel where the manager made sure she enjoyed all the comforts of home. Rested, she flew by private jet to Washington, D.C., where Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham hosted another dinner in the Princess’s honor.

Katherine Graham later wrote about their encounter, and her words are quoted in Sarah Bradford’s Diana: “if you spent time with her. . .you felt Diana’s extraordinary strength, as well as vulnerability and somewhat mocking and ever-present sense of humour.”

Just two months earlier, Diana had been on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, visiting a friend, when she learned that Elizabeth Glaser, wife of actor Paul Michael Glaser of television’s Starsky & Hutch, was on the island. Diana knew of Elizabeth and had corresponded with her. Their connection was the fight against AIDS.

In fact, Glaser, who had contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion, would die of the disease within a year, but not before co-founding the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Glaser’s daughter had died of AIDS as a small child after contracting the disease from her mother.

Although the content of the conversation the two women had over tea is not known, the event deeply affected Diana. She would later tell Katherine Graham that she would only do work that would make a difference and that she must see and understand the problem first. What she did, she said, had to matter not only to others but also to her.

Princess Diana’s life and humanitarian works are the subject of Diana, A Celebration, opening March 4, 2011, only at Union Station Kansas City, and running through June 12, 2011. On display during the exhibition will be 150 objects, including the princess’s wedding gown, in nine galleries. Tickets are available through


Bradford, Sarah. Diana: Finally, the Complete Story

Ellis, David. “The Defiant One,”,,20104707.00.html


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Diana, A Celebration, Kansas City: Exhibition opens in 11 days

The excitement is growing.

Diana, a Celebration, will open at Union Station Kansas City in just a few days. Already, construction crews are at work transforming the exhibit space into nine galleries. These galleries will hold 150 items from every aspect of Diana’s life — her childhood, young adulthood, marriage to Prince Charles, many humanitarian works and more.

If the record of this spectacular exhibition holds true in Kansas City, it will be a huge hit. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, more than 94,000 people shared the triumphs and tragedies of Diana’s too-brief life, far more than anticipated. And it has been the same everywhere.

As the opening of Diana, A Celebration, grows closer and after it is available to the public, we will continue to provide updates and information about one of the icons of the twentieth century. Hers is a fascinating story, one that has held millions of people in thrall for decades.

Tickets for Diana, A Celebration, are available now at The exhibition will remain in Kansas City from March 4 through June 12. For more information, view the video and photo gallery on this site or click on “Diana Exhibit” in the menu.

Diana, A Celebration, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about the life of the people’s princess. This is its final North American appearance.

Eleven days and counting: As she did so many times in so many places, Diana will soon take Kansas City by storm.

In two days here at dianacelebrationkc: The teenaged Lady Diana meets her prince. Be sure to check out MSNBC for continuing coverage of the next royal wedding. Lots of great information.

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Diana, A Celebration, Union Station Kansas City: The princess walks with Mother Teresa

It makes quite a picture: Princess Diana — tall, willowy and regal — walking hand-in-hand with Mother Teresa — much older, much shorter, dressed in her nun’s habit. They’re in the Bronx, New York. It’s June 1997. Just a few months later, within days of each other, the princess and the nun would pass away.

Mother Teresa was Diana’s heroine. The princess had seen Mother Teresa’s work first-hand on a trip to India with Prince Charles in 1992. The nun’s efforts in building a hospice and orphanage in Calcutta inspired Diana, and she was anxious to meet and talk with the woman she admired so much.

It seems the admiration was mutual. When Mother Teresa learned of Diana’s death, she sent these words of condolence: “She was very concerned for the poor. She was very anxious to do something for them. That is why she was close to me.” Sometime earlier, Mother Teresa had presented Diana with a prayer book containing her handwritten prayers and her signature.

It does seem strange that two such different people would bond so quickly and so closely. After all, they had only met in person on a couple of occasions: the walk in the Bronx and a visit to Rome when Diana saw Mother Teresa at the nun’s convent. That was February 1992.

But perhaps the aged, poor nun and the young, wealthy princess had more in common than first meets the eye. In their concern for the poor and disenfranchised, Mother Teresa and Princess Diana appear to have been of one mind.

The two women also understood the power of publicity. They knew how to use the media not for self-aggrandizement but rather to focus attention on their work. The media responded to both Diana and Mother Teresa with intense coverage. For a time, it seemed as though both women were constantly in the news, although Diana’s coverage was also concerned with her personal life and her relationship with the royal family.

Despite the clear differences between the life of the princess and the life of the nun, people seemed to take note of their similarities. The impact of their relationship was  so strong that Ascension Island issued a postage stamp showing the two women together, clasping hands in a gesture of mutual respect and affection.

Mother Teresa and Princess Diana were born 51 years apart, but they died less than a week apart. They were among the most remarkable women — the most remarkable people — of the twentieth century. That’s enough to have in common. That they were both deeply concerned with the common good places them not only among the remarkable but also the admirable.

Diana, A Celebration, comes to Union Station Kansas City for its final North American appearance. It will run from March 4 through June 12, 2011, and features 150 objects in nine galleries. The exhibition is a rare glimpse of Diana’s life and humanitarian works and includes her wedding gown, tiaras, home movies, photographs and much more.

Visit for more information. Tickets are available through


Bradford, Sarah. Diana: Finally, the Complete Story

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Diana, a Celebration, Union Station Kansas City: Princess Diana Fighting AIDS in New York

Princess Diana became known over the years for her charitable work. She was tireless in her efforts to end deaths from landmines, to promote better care for children and the elderly and to support many other causes.

Perhaps the work for which she was recognized most during her lifetime, however, was the fight against HIV/AIDS, the devastating disease that arrived on the stage in the early 1980s. On one of her trips to the U.S., Diana succeeded in doing more than researchers, doctors and even other AIDS activists to change people’s prejudiced view of HIV/AIDS patients. And all it took was a single gesture.

In February 1989, when the stigma attached to AIDS was still very strong, Diana visited New York’s Harlem Hospital Center. She was there to tour the pediatric unit, which, at the time, housed a number of children with AIDS.

Naturally, photographers were along to make sure the event was well documented, and they got more than they bargained for. As she had once before, at a hospital in England, Diana arranged to have her photograph taken with one of the patients.

Within a very short time, the picture of Princess Diana and a child with AIDS had been wired around the world. The reaction, as recorded in Sarah Bradford’s Diana, was immediate and profound.

“[P]eople began calling, saying: ‘I didn’t realize about these kids with AIDS until Princess Diana visited Harlem Hospital,’” Bradford writes, quoting the head of the Harlem Hospital Center pediatric unit. “Suddenly we had a whole group of willing foster parents who wanted kids with AIDS. . .and at the end of two years for all of New York City, there was a surplus of foster parents wanting kids with AIDS. . . . I know in my heart that Princess Diana is the one who made this possible.”

Diana had learned an important lesson at the hospital in England, and she carried that lesson to America. In England, she had taken the hand of an AIDS patient without wearing a glove. The resulting photograph had caused a worldwide sensation because she acted in the face of a fear of contagion. She had discovered the positive side of the power of the press.

Diana, A Celebration, will appear at Union Station Kansas City beginning March 4, 2011, and continuing through June 12, 2011. The exhibition gives visitors a glimpse of the life and humanitarian work of Diana, Princess of Wales. It consists of nine galleries and 150 items, including Diana’s wedding gown, tiaras, home movies, and other memorabilia.

Source: Bradford, Sarah. Diana: Finally, the Complete Story

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Diana, a Celebration, Union Station Kansas City: Princess Diana in Washington

Princess Diana visited the United States a number of times. However, her first visit was both triumphant and a bit embarrassing — for both sides.

By all accounts, Princess Diana loved the U.S., and the feeling was mutual. Everywhere she went when she traveled here, adoring crowds gathered, and celebrities, politicians and business leaders vied for her company and attention. Arguably, she was more popular here than in her own country, both during and after her marriage to the Prince of Wales.

Ronald Reagan was president when Charles and Diana visited this country in the autumn of 1985. The President and his wife Nancy threw the prince and princess a gala dinner where luminaries from the entertainment world almost outnumbered the politicians. Actor and director Clint Eastwood was there, along with actor Tom Selleck and singer Neil Diamond. Diana took a turn on the dance floor with John Travolta of Saturday Night Fever fame.

Despite protestors gathered outside in support of the Irish Republican Army, the event went off without a hitch — at least until President Reagan rose to toast his guests and forgot Diana’s name. He first called her “Princess David” and then “Princess Diane.”

For her part, Diana forgot to return the toast, but only for a moment. She rose to the occasion after a brief pause.

By the time of this first trip to the colonies, rumors about the state of Charles and Diana’s marriage had already begun to surface. British-born Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown, who attended Oxford University in England, wrote an article that pointed out the differences between the prince and princess. Brown noted the age discrepancy (Diana was 24 at the time, Charles 36) and other divergences in taste and behavior.

In this case, the British press, which would be very hard on Diana later, rushed to the couple’s rescue. Several prominent newspapers came out in defense of Charles and Diana, insisting the two royals were still deeply in love.

But one thing is certain: During Diana’s stay in the U.S., millions of Americans fell in love with her, and the feeling remains strong to this day.

Diana, A Celebration, will appear at Union Station Kansas City beginning March 4, 2011, and continuing through June 12, 2011. The exhibition gives visitors a glimpse of the life and humanitarian work of Diana, Princess of Wales. It consists of nine galleries and 150 items, including Diana’s wedding gown, tiaras, home movies, and other memorabilia.

Bradford, Sarah. Diana: Finally, the Complete Story

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