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John Travolta Reminisces About Dancing with Princess Diana: It Felt 'as If It Were a Fairytale'

Katie Campione
·3-min read

John Travolta will never forget the moment he danced with Princess Diana.

In an instantly iconic moment, Diana and Travolta twirled around the dance floor at a 1985 White House state dinner hosted by then-President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan.

This week, the actor, 67, relived the moment during an interview for Esquire Mexico, admitting that he hadn't prepared to dance with the Princess of Wales.

"I didn't think they'd ask me to dance with her. I had the great privilege and honor of doing so, and I thought, 'There must be a reason for doing this and I better give it my all,' " he revealed. "That meant lead the dance well and make sure we had fun. That was the easy part, but just the fact of greeting Diana appropriately, being confident and asking her to dance was a complicated task."

corbis/Getty Images John Travolta and Princess Diana

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Travolta said that the experience felt like a "fairytale" that he would continue to remember for decades to come.

"Think of the setting. We were at the White House. It's midnight. The stage is like a dream. I approach her, touch her elbow, invite her to dance," he said. "She spins around and gives me that captivating smile, just a little sad, and accepts my invitation. And there we were, dancing together as if it were a fairytale."

He added, "Who could ever imagine something like that would happen to them someday? I was smart enough to stamp it in my memory as a very special, magical moment."

The Saturday Night Fever star revealed previously that it was Nancy Reagan that told him Princess Diana wished to dance with him during an interview with Dutch television station Één.

"[She] said, 'It is her wish,' " the actor recalled. "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."

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"I'll never forget it," he continued. "I'm so honored that I was able to experience this, and I know for a fact that it was her 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."

During a Good Morning America appearance in 2016, Travolta was asked if there was anything from the '80s that he'd like to bring back to the 2010s. He said he'd love to dance with the royal again.

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"Yes, I danced with Princess Diana in 1986, I believe," he said. "That was one of the highlights of my life, so that's probably the best moment of the '80s."

Eleri Lynn, curator of the 2017 exhibit Diana: Her Fashion Story at the royal's former home of Kensington Palace, previously told PEOPLE that Diana appreciated Hollywood and dance — and could have taken that path had life worked out differently for her.

"She was influenced by the cinema and the arts and she was also a very capable dancer — she had wanted to be a ballet dancer as a young girl," Lynn said. "So this was really a meeting of her interest in cinema and her love of dance – to be dancing with John Travolta. The dress is a real masterpiece."