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They mixed with movie stars, such as Clint Eastwood, John Travolta, Tom Selleck and the singer Neil Diamond as well as politicians and businessmen.
A small group of anti-British IRA supporters protested outside and there were a few slip-ups during the glamorous event.
For a moment President Reagan forgot the Princess of Wales' name during an after-dinner speech to guests.
"Permit me to add our congratulations to Prince Charles on his birthday just five days away," he said, "and express also our great happiness that .. . er ... Princess David - Princess Diane (sic) here on her first trip to the United States."
And the princess herself, still suffering from jetlag, momentarily forgot to return the toast.
But all that was forgotten when she took to the dance floor with John Travolta in her midnight blue velvet dress and sapphire and diamond choker.
Galleries and shopping malls
This is the royal couple's first visit together to the States and is to last four days.
Their Royal Highnesses had arrived at Andrews Air Force base in Washington this morning from Hawaii and emerged into the bright autumn sunshine to be greeted by hundreds of enthusiastic well-wishers.
After a welcome at the White House by the President and the First Lady, they were taken to the official home of the British Ambassador, Sir Oliver Wright, where they are staying.
Princess Diana visited a hospice while Prince Charles went to see the treaty that ended the war of 1812 between Britain and the United States.
Tomorrow, the couple will attend morning service at Washington Cathedral and then visit the National Gallery of Art to see "The Treasure Houses of Britain: five hundred years of private patronage and art collecting."
Thousands of enthusiastic Americans are expected to turn out to catch a glimpse of the royals.
The following day, Monday, there is a less highbrow event on the agenda - a visit to Springfield shopping mall in Virginia to see the "Best of Britain" promotion at the JC Penney department store.
Monday is also Veterans' Day in the USA, and Prince Charles will visit Arlington National Cemetery to lay wreaths to war heroes.
The trip to Washington ends on Tuesday when the royal couple will go to Palm Beach Florida. There, Prince Charles will play in a friendly polo match and the princess will present a trophy to the winners. They return home to London on Wednesday.
Charles and Diana's trip sparked off a serious case of "royal fever" in the USA.
But what seemed like a fairytale marriage was actually in serious trouble.
The couple separated in 1993.
Diana spoke publicly about her own infidelity and her husband's affair with long-term friend Camilla Parker-Bowles in a BBC Panorama documentary in November 1995.
They officially divorced in 1996. Diana was stripped of the title of Her Royal Highness but was never far from the front pages of the tabloid newspapers.
She became actively involved with charities for children, the homeless, the disabled and those with HIV and AIDS and campaigned for a ban on the use and manufacture of landmines.
Her death in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997 shocked the world.
The next time Prince Charles visited the United States as a married man was in 2005 - with his second wife, Camilla.
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