Michael Jackson And Princess Diana's Lone Meeting Sparked A Lifelong Friendship

Despite the United States gaining independence from the British over two centuries ago, Americans still have a fascination with the British royal family. American presidents often meet with royals when visiting the United Kingdom. News and talk shows in the U.S. often broadcast British royal weddings and funerals as well.

The wedding between Princess Diana and Prince Charles was a spectacle on both sides of the Atlantic. Princess Diana became known as "the people's princess" and was a modern symbol for a centuries-old institution. She sent Prince William and Prince Harry to public school among regular children (per CNN) and was not afraid to appear as a funloving mom and fashionista.

American tabloids and news reports treat British royals similarly to American celebrities. The closeness of the U.S. and the U.K. often puts British royals in the same room as American celebrities. This allowed for a long friendship between Michael Jackson and Princess Diana.

Michael Jackson met Princess Diana at one of his concerts

Even royalty can enjoy popular music. Princess Diana was a fan of Michael Jackson, particularly the songs "Thriller" and "Bad." She met him backstage at his 1988 Wembley Stadium concert in London (per SCMP). Jackson gave insight into this meeting during a 1997 interview with Barbara Walters. Jackson explained that the princess asked him if he was going to perform his song "Dirty Diana" during the concert. Though the song is not about Princess Diana, Jackson told her that he took it off of the setlist because he knew she was going to be in the crowd. However, Diana told him, "No, I want you to do it."

Jackson became a confidant for Princess Diana. "Quite often, she'd call me on the phone and we'd talk in private because the press is hard on her the way they were hard on me, the same way. She needed a soulmate to talk to. She felt hunted the way I felt hunted" Jackson told the Daily Mirror (posted on YouTube).

Princess Diana's death was blamed on paparazzi

Michael Jackson and Princess Diana both dealt with invasive paparazzi and tabloids. Many, including Diana's brother, blamed paparazzi for Diana's death as some were following her when the deadly car crash occurred in 1997 (per Newsweek). Whether or not the photographers pursuing her were to blame or not, Diana's struggles with paparazzi, the press, and their possible role in her death hit home for Jackson. Due to the widespread presence of paparazzi and tabloids, "I can't take a walk in the park, I can't go to the store, I can't..., I'd have to hide in a room, you feel like you're in prison," he explained to Barbara Walters in 1997.

However, it was not only negative aspects of Princess Diana's fame to which Jackson could relate. "She really really did care about people and children the way I do," Jackson explained to the Daily Mirror (posted on YouTube). Jackson likened Princess Diana's devotion to philanthropy to that of Mother Theresa and called her a "wonderful person."