1985: Iconic Moment with the British Royalty

1985: Iconic Moment with the British Royalty 

The diplomatic relations of the United Kingdom and the United States began in 1785; however, they became allies only around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The two countries share common democratic ideals and values.

On November 9, 1985, President Ronald Reagan and his wife hosted a gala dinner at the White House for Prince Charles and Princess Diana of Wales. The extravagant event included only 80 guests, including celebrities.

A newspaper with White House gala dinner guest list, 1985, The New York Times Archives

John Travolta and Princess Diana dancing to the "Saturday Night Fever" performance by the Marine Band, 1985, National Archives

Mrs. Reagan told actor John Travolta to request Princess Diana for a dance. Major Dennis Burian, retired leader of the Marine Dance Band, got the band together for the dance and started playing music from “Saturday Night Fever,” the very movie Travolta had starred in.

"Our two countries are bound together by innumerable ties of ancient history and present friendship . . . we stood together through two great world conflicts. Today, we go on, shoulder to shoulder, in an alliance to protect freedom and democracy . . .  

– President Ronald Reagan, November 9, 1985

This dance went down not only as an iconic moment in pop culture history, but also strengthened the bond between Britain and America. All this was made possible by the President’s Own’s performance.

Princess Diana and President Ronald Reagan dancing, 1985, National Archives