Princess Diana Did Something Scandalous at the Musical ‘Cats’

As a royal, Princess Diana broke the mold. Similarly, Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s musical Cats defied the expectations of musical theater fans when it premiered decades ago. In a way, the princess and Cats were perfect for each other. Perhaps that’s why things got a little risque when Diana went backstage to meet Lloyd Webber during a production of Cats.

Diana, Princess of Wales | Bettmann

A memorable night at the theater

Billboard reports Lloyd Webber wrote an autobiography called Unmasked. The title of the book references Erik, the masked title character of Lloyd Webber’s most famous musical, The Phantom of the Opera. In the book, the composer discusses how his life intersected with those of numerous celebrities, including Barbra Streisand and Nicole Scherzinger.

Lloyd Webber also recalls crossing paths with Princess Diana. He said Princess Diana and Prince Charles went backstage following a performance of Cats. The royal couple wanted to greet Lloyd Webber, but then things took an odd turn.

Lloyd Webber elaborated “I think Charles said, ‘I can’t believe how these dancers do these sorts of things,’ and [Diana] said, ‘Well, it goes this way…’ and she did the splits. A little bit of the royal personage, more than you normally would have seen, was revealed.”

Princess Diana’s love for Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals

Diana, Princess of Wales with Andrew Lloyd Webber | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

The princess was apparently a fan of Lloyd Webber’s work. According to People, she attended the opening night of another one of his musicals, Starlight Express, along with her husband, Queen Elizabeth II, and Prince Philip. Like Cats, Starlight Express is really more about song, dance, and spectacle than plot.

Larry King’s book The People’s Princess also says Diana was a fan of The Phantom of the Opera and would often play its songs in her car. However, this did not lead to a friendship between the princess and Lloyd Webber. Lloyd Webber’s spokesman said the two were not close, reports CNN.

A tribute to the princess

E! reports that in 2007, Prince William and Prince Harry organized a memorial event called the Concert for Diana. The concert featured a diverse array of acts designed to showcase the princess’ wide musical taste.

Prince William and Prince Harry meet Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber following the Concert for Diana | POOL/ Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images

Pharrell Williams, Elton John, Joss Stone and the England National Ballet all performed at the concert. Cleveland 19 reports John’s performance included a rendition of “Candle in the Wind,” a song which he re-recorded to pay tribute to Diana. At the Concert for Diana, several singers performed a medley of Lloyd Webber’s songs.

According to the BBC, the medley included famous songs from Lloyd Webber’s popular musicals, namely The Phantom of the Opera, Josepha and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cats, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Discussing the event, Prince William recalled how his mother “obviously…love[d] her dancing and her musicals.”

Princess Diana had a great love for the arts. She was particularly interested in Loyd Webber’s musicals. That stands as one of the greatest compliments a composer could ask for.