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She Could Have Danced All Night : Princess Diana Trips the Light Fantastic With Celebrities

November 12, 1985|BETTY CUNIBERTI | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — If you're wondering why Princess Diana danced with John Travolta, Clint Eastwood and Neil Diamond but not Mikhail Baryshnikov, the man who sat next to her at that fabulous White House dinner, it was because the ballet dancer had sore ankles and could not do so. . . . The dance with Travolta was quite the talk of Washington the next day. The music they were dancing to, according to Travolta, was a medley of the music from two of his movies, "Grease" and "Saturday Night Fever," as played quite beautifully by the U.S. Marine Dance Band.

The Reagans and royals exchanged regal gifts. The President gave the prince an authentic 18th-Century deed representing an important pre-royal link in the chain of title to Sandringham, the royal estate (purchased in 1861 by Queen Victoria for her son, the Prince of Wales) in the county of Norfolk. Mrs. Reagan gave the princess a silver "Dates to Remember" calendar with special dates noted. The royals gave the Reagans a blue leather album with the Prince of Wales' insignia on the front.

Betsy Bloomingdale didn't get her feathers ruffled over the fact that the royal couple visited a J. C. Penney store during their visit. "The queen has been to Bloomingdale's," she said with a smile before the White House dinner, where she was escorted by Texas oilman Edwin Cox.

The National Gallery of Art and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art have a fierce rivalry raging at all times. But Met director Philippe de Montebello, a guest at the White House party for the royal couple, said he was not envious of the grandiose "Treasure Houses of Britain" exhibit. "Envy is not a good quality," he said. "I admire it enormously, and I covet quite a few of the pieces."

Since Tom Selleck had been invited to the White House dinner, apparently at the request of the princess, royal family press secretary Michael Shea was asked if the couple watches "Magnum P.I.," Selleck's television show. "What is Magnum?" Shea asked. "To me it's a large bottle." Shea sidestepped all kinds of questions but in a witty fashion, often poking fun at some of the most aggressive members of the British press corps. When not fighting off the media Shea writes television scripts and spy novels. But he won't write anything based on the royal family, he told a reporter. "It's too strange," he said. "You know, truth is stranger than fiction."

Robin Weir, Nancy Reagan's Washington hair stylist, will travel to Palm Beach to take care of his customers during the royal visit. Weir had Paul Hayes, a makeup specialist, come down from New York to help paint very important faces during the crush.

Princess Diana was looking especially royal at the party at the British Embassy on Sunday night. She was wearing the pearl-and-diamond Queen Mary tiara, which was given to her by Queen Elizabeth II. She wore a drop-waisted cream gown with a lace bodice and taffeta skirt and matching cream shoes. The dress, designed by Murray Arbeid, had a plunging, scallop-edged back. At the dinner a first-course fish pate was ceremoniously labeled "Terrine Charles." Not to be left out, the dessert was "Pudding Diana's Delight," a hazelnut meringue and strawberry mousse. The big flap of the evening occurred when Leonore Annenberg curtsied to the prince when she came through the receiving line. Mrs. Annenberg, a former chief of protocol, knows that American protocol does not call for Americans to curtsy to royalty--there was a controversy about this four years ago when she curtsied to the prince during a trip to Europe while she was chief of protocol.

On another fashion note, the red wool suit the princess was wearing Saturday was flown in that day (this according to a report in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph) because the clothes she had worn on the previous stop in Australia were criticized as dowdy.

While at the National Gallery, the princess met Ford Motor Co. Chairman Donald E. Petersen and told him that she enjoyed driving her red convertible Ford Escort. Walter Hayes, vice chairman of Ford Motor Co. in Europe, said that Diana told him at a dinner last month that the report that she had been stopped for speeding was not true.

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