March 09, 2005 08:00 AM

Diana The Princess, a controversial $2.9 million ballet about the life of the late royal, premiered in the UK Tuesday night, with its creator, Danish choreographer Peter Schauffus – who once supervised private dancing lessons for Diana – calling the work a “tribute” to her.

The Daily Telegraph, however, calls it “offbeat,” adding: “The Nutcracker it isn’t.”

The show had a successful run in Denmark before moving to Manchester’s Palace Theatre. Schauffus met Diana when he was director of the English Nation Ballet in the ’80s and ’90s. (She was killed in a 1997 Paris car crash.) His partner, Zara Deakin, dances the lead role, and their son, Luke Schauffus, 11, plays Prince William.

The work will remain in Manchester until April 12 before a scheduled move to the West End in May. The BBC reports that there will be no performance on April 8, the wedding day of Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.

According to a Manchester Evening News report on the ballet, Charles is portrayed as a “heartless brute” and his longtime mistress Camilla Parker Bowles is depicted “as a whip-wielding dominatrix in jodhpurs who has Charles wrapped round her little finger.”

As for Charles’s parents, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, they “behave with a coldness towards their daughter-in-law.” The paper ultimately gives Diana The Princess two out of five stars.

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