Princess Diana's first visit to the land of opportunity turned into a monster soap opera publicity stunt. Many of her appearances with the Prince of Wales were behind closed doors, for America's preoccupation with security left the royal couple with no real chance of "pressing the flesh" of the real American public. There was virtually none of the beautifully unscripted and relaxed walkabouts which had charmed millions of Australians and Canadians during their previous royal tours.

 

On November 8, the royal flight landed in Honolulu, Fiji, for a brief layover before continuing on an official visit to Washington, where the Prince and Princess of Wales will meet The Reagans. The visit to Washington DC and Palm Beach, Florida, was scheduled in the autumn of 1985 for five days. On their brief layover, the royal couple stayed in the Kahala Hilton Hotel, on the island of Oahu.

 

A day after, the Prince and Princess of Wales arrived in Andrews Air Force Base, and were greeted by British Ambassador Sir Oliver Wright and his wife Lady Wright. In the evening, the royal couple attended a special ball at the White House. It was the most publicised star-spangled event staged in true American style. Princess Diana emerged from the royal car wearing a black velvet dress designed by British designer Victor Edelstein's, knocking the socks off a celebrity crowd. An admiring and flustered President Reagan introduced his guest as "Princess David". In a moment of glory, Princess Diana signed Mikhail Baryshnikov's place card and told the ballet dancer how she once waited in the rain at Covent Garden for his autograph.

 

First Lady Nancy Reagan told John Travolta that the guest of honor secretly wanted to dance with him. "Of course, with awe," she said. "It was just the two of them and they were beautiful to behold." Travolta said: "For 15 lovely minutes, she made me feel like a prince. It was magical." Travolta gave the Princess a ten out of ten rating as a dancer. The other winners who danced with the Princess were Clint Eastwood who said predictably: "It made my day." Singer Neil Diamond also danced with the Princess. He said: "I sang to her but I was so excited I've forgotten what the tune was."

 

The Prince and Princess of Wales's tour scheduled included a dinner given in honor of their visit to USA by the British Ambassador and his wife at the British Embassy in Washington DC, which was also attended by Vice President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush. In the early hours before the scheduled dinner at the embassy, the royal couple attend a worship service together with Vice President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush. The service, led by Episcopal Bishop John Walker, took place at the National Cathedral in Washington. After that, Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited The National Gallery of Art, where they viewed a Chippendale doll house on display. The title of the special exhibition was "The Treasure Houses of Britain: Five Hundred Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting".

 

On November 11, Princess Diana, accompanied by First Lady Nancy Reagan, made a brief visit to Straight Inc., a drug rehabilitation center in Springfield. The First Lady and the Princess spent an hour talking to residents of the center about their drug problems. Afterwards, Princess Diana visited the Washington Home hospice, where she met with the residents, including 95 year old Letitia Whittey, an English native. The Washington Home practices a method of care for the terminally ill which was developed in Princess Diana's native England. 

 

The Prince and Princess of Wales concluded their visit by attending a mass at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC, tour J.C. Penney's Department Store in the Springfield Mall, where they met with William Howell, chairman of J.C. Penney's, and launch a charity polo match in Palm Beach, Florida.

 

Source:

  • Charles and Diana In America, By David Levenson. Publication Date: 01 January 1986