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Harry recalls John Travolta’s dance with Diana as he seeks to ‘fly together’

The Duke of Sussex told John Travolta it would be fitting for them to fly together after recalling how the actor famously danced with his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, more than three decades ago.

Harry made the comments in his speech at the Living Legends of Aviation ceremony in Los Angeles hosted by aviation ambassador Travolta, 69, hours after the duke withdrew his High Court libel claim against the publisher of the Mail on Sunday.

During the event, where he was recognised for his work as a British Army veteran and pilot, Harry told Travolta: “I was just a one-year-old when you danced with my mum at the White House, and now look at us. The only thing left to do is… not dance together but fly together.”

Diana, who died following a car crash in 1997, took to the dance floor with Grease star Travolta during a dinner at the White House in 1985.

Duke of Sussex comments
John Travolta dancing with Diana, Princess of Wales at a White House dinner in Washington (Ronald Reagan Library/AP/Alamy)

Harry began his speech by expressing his gratitude and said: “I am proud to be recognised among such a dynamic and inspiring group of individuals.

“For me, flying has been a transcendent experience, a close encounter with magic, an invitation to both protect freedom… and to feel free – and, funny enough, an opportunity to ground oneself, without actually being grounded.

“I found my flight training – which was over the course of three years – to be one of life’s greatest lessons. In this lesson, it triggered a vast array of feelings.

“I remember the anticipation before my first solo flight in a Firefly.

“The disbelief that my instructor would dare to have the confidence in sending me up by myself.

“I remember feeling surprised and relieved when I returned to terra firma in one piece.

“To the average person it would’ve looked like the most mundane flight in the history of aviation.

“But to me, it was one of the most wonderful moments of my life.

Invictus Games – Dusseldorf
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

“Next was the Squirrel helicopter. In the take-off I felt excitement as the rotor blades beat the frothy clouds and pulled us up into God’s playground.

“I felt immense frustration in perfecting the hover, then immense satisfaction in doing so.

“I felt pride in receiving my flight wings at the end of our course, and then nervousness about flying the Apache.

“I experienced collective bemusement about our windowless classroom. And then collective happiness to have finally finished ground school, after three months, in that same windowless classroom.

“I struggled to comprehend how long it took to start up the aircraft in the first weeks.

“I had respect for the Apache in a hover. And was in awe of it flying at night. So many moments as a pilot where you feel like you’re walking on air.

“And throughout each flight during my military career, the one constant was always trust.

“Trust in the aircraft, trust in my fellow comrades, trust in my many mentors, and above all else: trust in myself.”

He ended the speech: “Thank you again for this incredible honour.”

The duke’s speech came after he dropped a libel claim against Associated Newspapers Limited over a February 2022 Mail on Sunday article about his challenge against the Home Office, following a decision to change his publicly funded security arrangements when visiting the UK.

His lawyers filed a notice of discontinuance at the High Court in London on Friday, while a spokesperson said the duke’s focus remains “on the safety of his family” and on his legal action against the Home Office.

Hours after the announcement, Harry appeared at the 21st annual Living Legends of Aviation ceremony, honouring those who make significant contributions to aviation and aerospace.

The Duchess of Sussex, who had been expected to attend the event, was not present as one of their children became unwell, the PA news agency understands.

The duke completed two tours of Afghanistan as a forward air controller and an Apache helicopter pilot, having flown countless training missions in the UK, US and Australia.

He served for 10 years in the military, rising to the rank of Captain, and later founded the Invictus Games – a sporting event for wounded military personnel and veterans.