When Princess Diana stunned onlookers with her extraordinary piano-playing skills

5 January 2021, 15:31

Princess Diana played the piano during the Royals' famous 1983 Australian tour, just months after welcoming their first child Prince William.
Princess Diana played the piano during the Royals' famous 1983 Australian tour, just months after welcoming their first child Prince William. Picture: ITN

Princess Diana and Prince Charles were on a tour of Australia in 1983 when she sat down and started to play the piano at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.

It's not often that the royals let their guards down but when Princess Diana was shyly puersuarded to play the piano for a group of eager onlookers in 1983, they weren't disappointed.

The beautiful moment took place during Prince Charles and Princess Diana's famous Australian tour, just months after welcoming their first child Prince William.

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The royals were visiting the Conservatoire of Music in Melbourne when famed cellist Professor Henri Touzeau to play a range of instruments.

The royals were visiting the Conservatoire of Music in Melbourne when famed cellist Professor Henri Touzeau to play a range of instruments.
The royals were visiting the Conservatoire of Music in Melbourne when famed cellist Professor Henri Touzeau to play a range of instruments. Picture: ITN
Diana was unwilling to play in front of hundreds of reporters, yet Henri Touzeau was undeterred and persuaded the Princess to step over the piano.
Diana was unwilling to play in front of hundreds of reporters, yet Henri Touzeau was undeterred and persuaded the Princess to step over the piano. Picture: ITN
It's not often that the royals let their guards down but when Princess Diana was shyly puersuarded to play the piano for a group of eager onlookers in 1983, they weren't disappointed.
It's not often that the royals let their guards down but when Princess Diana was shyly puersuarded to play the piano for a group of eager onlookers in 1983, they weren't disappointed. Picture: ITN

Prince Charles sat down and played a few notes on the cello but when it was Diana's turn the princess was more reluctant.

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Diana was unwilling to play in front of hundreds of reporters, yet Henri Touzeau was undeterred and persuaded the Princess to step over the piano.

Gaining confidence, Diana is seen throwing her handbag on the floor and pulling herself up purposefully to the piano before she begins to play an incredible version of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 2 in D-minor for the stunned audience.

The journalists begin snapping away and the Princess is lit up by flashing lights as she concentrates on playing the piano.

See more: What was Princess Diana's favourite music and was Duran Duran really her favourite band?

The clip comes after the dramatic 1983 tour of Australia was fictionalised for the highly-popular Netflix series The Crown, prompting new interest in the then-young royal couple.
The clip comes after the dramatic 1983 tour of Australia was fictionalised for the highly-popular Netflix series The Crown, prompting new interest in the then-young royal couple. Picture: ITN

After a few moments she suddenly stops playing and jumps up embarrassed, trying to get away as quickly as possible, but not before Touzeau plants a kiss on her cheek.

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The shy Princess then scuttles across the auditorium to kind laughter from the gathered crowd and disappears into a back room as Prince Charles follows behind her.

The clip comes after the dramatic 1983 tour of Australia was fictionalised for the highly-popular Netflix series The Crown, prompting new interest in the then-young royal couple.

See more: The Crown season 4 soundtrack: What songs appear in the Netflix series?

Prince Charles became increasingly frustrated in Australia, not helped by the now infamous face Princess Diana made behind his back when he was giving a speech prompting the Prince to say “It’s amazing what ladies do when your back is turned”.

Years after the tour Princess Diana spoke about the unhappiness that had arisen between the pair, exacerbated by the Princess' huge popularity. Pictured at Uluru near Alice Springs.
Years after the tour Princess Diana spoke about the unhappiness that had arisen between the pair, exacerbated by the Princess' huge popularity. Pictured at Uluru near Alice Springs. Picture: Getty
“It was hot, I was jet-lagged, being sick,” she said of the trip to Alice Springs in the Andrew Morton biography Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words, “I was too thin,” she added.
“It was hot, I was jet-lagged, being sick,” she said of the trip to Alice Springs in the Andrew Morton biography Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words, “I was too thin,” she added. Picture: Getty

Years after the tour Princess Diana spoke about the unhappiness that had arisen between the pair, exacerbated by the Princess' huge popularity.

See more: Princess Diana's cherished friendships with George, Freddie, Bowie and more in pictures

“It was hot, I was jet-lagged, being sick,” she said of the trip to Alice Springs in the Andrew Morton biography Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words, “I was too thin,” she added.

Photographer Ken Lennox famously took a photograph of Princess Diana crying outside the Sydney Opera House and witnessed her crying.

“I’m about four feet from the princess and I’m trying to get a bit of the Opera House in the background and some of the crowd, and Diana burst into tears and wept for a couple of minutes," he told Vanity Fair.

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“Charles I don’t think had noticed [Diana crying] at that stage. If he has, typical of Prince Charles to look the other way.”

Despite these difficulties, it has since been revealed that Diana loved music and it brought her great solace during her years as part of the royal family.

It has since been revealed that Diana loved music and it brought her great solace during her years as part of the royal family. Pictured, the pair dancing in Melbourne, 1983.
It has since been revealed that Diana loved music and it brought her great solace during her years as part of the royal family. Pictured, the pair dancing in Melbourne, 1983. Picture: Getty
Princess Diana was famously friends with the likes of George Michael and Elton John, and is said to have enjoyed a night on the town with Freddie Mercury. Pictured with George Michael and Mick Hucknall in 1993.
Princess Diana was famously friends with the likes of George Michael and Elton John, and is said to have enjoyed a night on the town with Freddie Mercury. Pictured with George Michael and Mick Hucknall in 1993. Picture: Getty

Diana was a particularly big fan of '80s icons Duran Duran and speaking at Diana's memorial concert in 2006, singer Simon Le Bon said: “We are honoured that she always referred to Duran Duran as her favourite band as she was certainly our favourite princess.”

Princess Diana was famously friends with the likes of George Michael and Elton John, and is said to have enjoyed a night on the town with Freddie Mercury, but she was also very keen on keeping up with the latest music trends of the era.

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In 2017, cassette tapes that once belonged to Diana went on display at Buckingham Palace.

The small case contained Diana's eclectic '80s and '90s collection, including albums by George Michael, Luciano Pavarotti, Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, Céline Dion and Lionel Richie.