London Gay Bar Where Princess Diana Hung Out With Freddie Mercury Hosts Musical About The Epic Night

Her Highness, friend of the gays long before it was cool.

Rumor has it that Princess Diana once dressed in male drag on a night out in London with her pal Freddie Mercury.

As the story goes, the Princess of Wales enlisted the help of Freddie once when she was 27 to experience a night out on the town without her royal baggage, so she dressed anonymously as a male model before the two went out with friends for drinks at London’s famed Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

Television presenter Cleo Rocos, who was also in attendance that night, detailed the scene in her 2013 book, The Power of Positive Drinking.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY MOHAMMED ABBAS A general view of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in south London on July 18, 2015. London is one of the world's most gay-friendly cities, and many LGBT people feel welcome in mainstream establishments. Many gay people are frequenting mainstream venues amid an atmosphere of greater tolerance. Others are ditching bars and clubs altogether, and with the proliferation of dating websites and mobile phone apps, are choosing to make contacts online. AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'N        (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images

“She [Diana] wanted the thrill of going in undetected to order one drink and would leave right away, she promised,” Rocos wrote. “She tried on the outfit Kenny had intended to wear: a camouflage army jacket, hair tucked up into a leather cap and dark aviator sunglasses. Scrutinising her in the half light, we decided that the most famous icon of the modern world might just – just – pass for a rather eccentrically dressed gay male model.”

Diana stayed just long enough to saunter up to the bar to order a white wine and a beer. The group left shortly thereafter and the Princess was returned to Kensington Palace, the Daily Mail reported.

Now, 28 years later, that iconic night has been turned into a musical called “Royal Vauxhall,” and it’s premiering, appropriately enough, at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern on February 17.

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Attitude

Speaking with Attitude, Royal Vauxhalls’ leading man Reuben Kaye, who plays Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, and London drag icon Regina Fong, had this to say:

It’s a fictionalised, fabulous retelling of that night with original songs, and a lot of changing of hats, because it’s myself, Sarah Louise-Young (also London cabaret royalty) who play Princess Diana, and Stuart Saint as Kenny Everett. It’s just us three in the show, but Regina Fong makes an appearance, she’s one of London’s most famed drag queens of yesteryear, David Bowie and Margaret Thatcher – it’s an amazing sweep of British culture at that time.

For Kenny and I, it’s just a bitchfest, but a really warm, loving funny bitchfest. We just laugh the whole time. Sarah Louise-Young as Princess Diana is scarily accurate and funny and sad and beautiful. I’m having the time of my life. But it’s also terrifying, because in the space of two hours, I play Freddie Mercury, Regina Fong and David Bowie. I’m pretty much playing all of the famous, dead, homosexuals and bisexuals.

Kaye said he’s open to expanding the show if there’s enough interest after its upcoming four-night run.

“We’re looking to get it expanded, make it a larger production, make it a longer run, find someone with money dare we say,” he said. “My mother used to say, ‘you don’t have to suck the dick but you do have to roll it around in your mouth for the money.’”

Check out the full interview over at Attitude. You can pick up ticket for “Royal Vauxhall” at Vauxhall Tavern’s website.

Matthew Tharrett is a writer, filmmaker, and above all else, a Britney fan. He once shared a milkshake with Selena Gomez.
@mattharrett