She dreamed a dream, and it very nearly came true.
But Susan Boyle's reality show journey finished Saturday with a second-place finish in the finals of "Britain's Got Talent," an ending that didn't fit the fairy tale. Instead of the 48-year-old Internet sensation, an exuberant dance troupe called Diversity took the top prize and will perform for Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Show.
Boyle looked almost relieved when her name was called as the runner-up. She recovered in time to graciously praise the dancers.
"The best people won," Boyle said. "They're very entertaining. Lads, I wish you all the best."
Boyle then curtsied several times to the audience, gave them her signature shimmy, and strolled offstage.
It had been a tumultuous week for Boyle. She lost her cool during a confrontation with two reporters, and the police intervened. One contest judge said Boyle had contemplated pulling out of the competition to soothe her frazzled nerves.
But when she stepped into the spotlight Saturday, Boyle seemed more polished than in previous appearances.
She wore a modest, but glamorous, floor-length gown, and chose to go back to the song that rocketed her into the international spotlight: "I Dreamed a Dream," from the musical "Les Miserables."
"I've known her for many years," said Margaret Yule, Boyle's 72-year-old neighbor in Blackburn, Scotland. "She's a lovely lassie and she will do well whatever happens. Susan is about the singing, and fame and fortune won't change her."