Neil Diamond: A Pop Crooner Tells the Royal Mom to Shake Her Fanny and She Does, Before 11,500 People

updated 07/23/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/23/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Prince Charles gave Princess Di a diamond for her 23rd birthday this month—Diamond, as in Neil, that is. On July 5 the royal couple joined more than 11,000 other fans who packed Birmingham's National Exhibition Center for singer-songwriter Diamond's third stop on his first European tour since 1977. "I've been a fan ever since I saw The Jazz Singer," says the Prince, referring to Diamond's 1980 mod-rock version of the Al Jolson film.

As a treat for Di's July 1 birthday, Charles had asked Diamond if he would dedicate a portion of the show's proceeds to the Prince's trust fund for disadvantaged youngsters. Of course Diamond would. And he came into Birmingham on a roll, having scored sellouts in every show since the June 23 London opening, with teenagers scaling the 30-foot walls to crash his concert in Dublin's Croke Park. "He was adored," the Sunday Times cooed.

The Princess' birthday bash was more of the same. From the moment he strutted onstage in a plum-colored shirt to whang out his opening number, America, with cannons firing and lasers flashing on Old Glory and the Union Jack, he had the audience hooked.

Diamond played straight to the royal fans. The seven-months pregnant Di was seated on Charles' right, and while introducing the number Play Me, Diamond urged "everyone here tonight to turn to the person on their right and give them a kiss." The Prince and Princess demurred, but Di was not so shy when Diamond launched into Forever in Blue Jeans. "I want to see everyone up shaking their fannies," he called. "Come on, everybody, have you got the nerve?" Diana came right to her feet, followed swiftly by others in the royal party of about 40. Swaying from side to side, she clapped to the beat, shooting smiles at Charles, who seemed to be clapping three times slower—and only on the off-beat.

The Di and Diamond show, with the uninhibited Princess clearly showing the shape of things to come, gave new impetus to the big British gossip game of whether the forthcoming royal baby will be a boy or a girl (twins are now considered a long shot, offered at 10 to 1 in bookie shops). Charles knows the child's sex and won't say, but palace insiders claim it's a girl. Di refuses to ask her doctor what he found in her six-month scan or be told. The birthday girl still wants a surprise birth.

The Princess was delighted with her birthday Diamond. "I wanted to see you in 1977," she said, "but my father wouldn't let me. But now he can't tell me what to do." Later she got another gift, an enormous stuffed Garfield from Diamond's son, Micah, 6, for Prince William. "He's awfully fat," commented Di. "We'll have to give him his own seat on the helicopter when we leave."

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