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4 March 2022, 15:43
Michael Jackson and Princess Diana met only once, but the encounter had a profound effect on both of them.
Joining a line-up backstage at Wembley Stadium on July 16, 1988, superstar Michael Jackson shifts on his feet and looks nervous.
The 'Thriller' singer was not only about to meet the most famous woman in the world, but also perform in front of royalty and in front of thousands of fans.
Yet the tables are turned as a shy Princess Diana makes her way along the line-up and can be seen blushing as she comes face-to-face with the King of Pop.
The mother of two was in fact a huge fan of the star, often listening to 'Thriller' and 'Bad' on repeat, and Michael Jackson later revealed she even gave him a song request that evening.
Speaking to Barbara Walters in 1997, Michael recalled he had left 'Dirty Diana' out of the show - a song about a wild groupie - to make the gig more appropriate for royalty, but she immediately put a stop to it.
“Are you going to do Dirty Diana?” he revealed the Princess asked.
“So I said, ‘No, I took it out of the show because of you.’ She said ‘No! I want you to do it. Do it. Do the song.’”
After the line-up Michael and a bashful Princess Diana joined Prince Charles for a photocall where the singer gifted the royals miniature Bad jackets for William and Harry and a platinum disc wall hanging.
While it was the only time Michael and Diana would ever meet face-to-face in their lifetimes, from that day in 1988 onwards a strong friendship between the star and Princess started to form.
When Michael Jackson met Princess Diana and Prince Charles
Princess Diana was a huge fan of the King of Pop... 💜 #PrincessDiana #MichaelJackson #PrinceCharlesPosted by Smooth Radio on Thursday, January 6, 2022
“We were very close,” Jackson told German media in 1999.
“She was extremely close by phone... I was still married to Lisa Marie [Presley]. Diana woke me up usually late at night… mostly after three in the morning! And then she held me for hours on the telephone. She talked about children, the press.”
Michael's former bodyguard, Matt Fiddes, later confirmed the pair would often speak into the small hours.
“[Jackson] felt she was the only person in the world who could understand his life in terms of not being able to go anywhere, and the media stories that got out of hand... The intrusion into the private life, having no privacy whatsoever, the children being hounded," he told Daily Star in 2017.
It wasn't just their worldwide fame and love of music that the two had in common.
On his visit to London for the Bad tour, Michael Jackson donated £150,000 to the Princes Trust and twice visited the children on the wards at Great Ormond Street Hospital, a charity close to the Princess' heart.
Michael later said in 2003 that Diana was "one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known, because we could relate to each other.
"We shared something in common, with the press. I don’t think they hounded anyone more than her and myself. And we had a relationship, where we would call each other late at night… just cry on each other’s shoulders, how hard and difficult and how mean the tabloids can be.”
When Michael heard Diana died, he said he was overcome with grief, falling down to the floor and crying.
The star told Barbara Walters he postponed a performance of his HIStory tour to recover and when he went on stage days later, he dedicated a song to the Princess.
“In my heart, I was saying, ‘I love you, Diana. Shine. And shine on forever, because you are the true princess of the people.’”