Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer

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Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer
Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer photo.PNG
Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer on their wedding day.
Date 29 July 1981, 11:20am BST
Location St Paul's Cathedral, London, England
Participants Charles, Prince of Wales, Lady Diana Spencer, Elizabeth II, The Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, The Princess Anne, The Prince Andrew, The Prince Edward, The 8th Earl Spencer, Frances Shand Kydd, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, Lady Jane Fellowes, Charles Spencer, Viscount Althorp

The wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer took place on 29 July 1981 at St Paul's Cathedral, London, England. Their marriage was widely billed as a "fairytale wedding" and the "wedding of the century". It was watched by an estimated global TV audience of 750 million.[1][2] The United Kingdom had a national holiday on that day to mark the wedding. The couple separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.


The Prince of Wales, who had known Lady Diana Spencer for several years, took a serious interest in her as a potential bride during the summer of 1980, when they were guests at a country weekend, where she watched him play polo. The relationship developed as he invited her for a sailing weekend to Cowes aboard the royal yacht Britannia, followed by an invitation to Balmoral Castle, the Windsor family's Scottish home, to meet his family. Diana was well received at Balmoral by The Queen, Prince Philip, and the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The couple then had several dates in London. Diana and Charles had been seeing each other for about six months when he proposed on 3 February 1981 at Windsor Castle in the nursery. He knew she planned a holiday for the next week, and hoped she would use the time to consider her answer.[3] Diana accepted, but their engagement was kept secret for the next few weeks.[4]

Their engagement became official on 24 February 1981, after Diana selected a large £30,000 ring consisting of 14 solitaire diamonds elegantly surrounding a 12-carat oval blue Ceylon sapphire set in 18-karat white gold.[5] Many copies of the ring have been made in both well-established jewellery shops and high-street fashion chains all over the world.[6]


There were 3,500 people in the congregation at St Paul's Cathedral.[3] It was held at St Paul's rather than Westminster Abbey because St Paul's offered more seating and permits a longer procession through the streets of London. The service was a traditional Church of England wedding service, presided over by the Most Reverend Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Very Reverend Alan Webster, the Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral. Some say 750 million people watched the ceremony worldwide,[1] and this figure allegedly rose to a billion when the radio audience is added in, however, there are no means of verifying these figures.[3] Two million spectators lined the route of Diana's procession from Clarence House, with 4,000 police and 2,201 military officers to manage the crowds.[3]

All of the Queen's governors-general, as well as Europe's crowned heads, attended (except for King Juan Carlos I of Spain, who was advised by his government not to attend because the newlyweds' honeymoon involved a stopover in the disputed territory of Gibraltar). Most of Europe's elected heads of state were amongst the guests, with the exceptions of the President of Greece, Constantine Karamanlis (who declined because Greece's exiled monarch, Constantine II, a kinsman and friend of the bridegroom, had been invited as "King of the Hellenes"), and the President of Ireland, Patrick Hillery (who was advised by Taoiseach Charles Haughey not to attend because of the dispute over the status of Northern Ireland).[fn 1]

Regiments from the Commonwealth realms participated in the procession, including the Royal Regiment of Canada.[7]

Lady Diana arrived at the cathedral in the Glass Coach with her father, John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer, escorted by six mounted Metropolitan Police officers.[3] She arrived almost on time for the 11:20 BST ceremony.[1] The carriage was too small to comfortably hold the two of them in her dress and train. She made the three-and-a-half minute walk up the red-carpeted aisle with the sumptuous 25 ft (8 m) train of gown behind her.

During the vows, Diana accidentally changed the order of Charles' names, saying "Philip Charles Arthur George" instead of saying "Charles Philip Arthur George".[1] Charles also made an error. He said he would offer her "thy goods" instead of "my worldly goods".[8] She did not promise to "obey" him; that traditional vow was left out at the couple's request, which caused a sensation at the time.[9]

Other church representatives present, who gave prayers following the service, were a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Donald Coggan, Cardinal Basil Hume, the Right Reverend Andrew Doig and the Reverend Harry Williams CR.[10] The directors and conductors of the music for the occasion included Sir David Willcocks, Christopher Dearnley, Barry Rose, Richard Popplewell and Sir Colin Davis.[10]

The music and songs used during the wedding included the "Prince of Denmark's March", "I Vow to Thee, My Country", "Pomp and Circumstance No.4" and the British National Anthem.[10]


Diana's wedding dress, valued at £9000[11] (£30,099 as of 2015),[12] The dress was made of silk taffeta, decorated with lace, hand embroidery, sequins, and 10,000 pearls. It was designed by Elizabeth and David Emanuel and had a 25-foot train of ivory taffeta and antique lace. Charles wore his full dress naval commander uniform.[13]

The bride wore her family's heirloom Spencer tiara.[14] According to her brother, Charles Spencer, Diana was unused to wearing a tiara and it gave her a headache.[15]

Diana was reported to have spilled perfume all over her wedding dress.[16] The official parfumeur of the royal wedding was the House of Houbigant, the oldest French fragrance company.


They had seven bridal attendants: Lord Nicholas Windsor (aged 11) (son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent) and Edward van Cutsem (aged 8) (both godsons of the Prince of Wales) were pageboys; the bridesmaids were Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (aged 17), the Earl of Snowdon and Princess Margaret's daughter;[13] India Hicks (aged 13) granddaughter of the Earl Mountbatten of Burma and daughter of David and Lady Pamela Hicks; Catherine Cameron (aged 6), daughter of Donald and Lady Cecil Cameron, granddaughter of the Marquess of Lothian; Sarah-Jane Gaselee (aged 11), daughter of Nick Gaselee and his wife; and Clementine Hambro (aged 5), daughter of Rupert Hambro and the Hon Mrs Hambro (now Countess Peel), granddaughter of Lord and Lady Soames and great-granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill. Princes Andrew (aged 21) and Edward (aged 17) were the Prince of Wales' supporters (the equivalent of "best man" for a royal wedding).


After the ceremony, the couple went to Buckingham Palace for a dinner for 120.[3] Appearing on a balcony at 13:10 BST, Diana and Charles kissed for the crowd below.[1][3]

The couple had 27 wedding cakes with the official wedding cake being supplied by the Naval Armed Forces. David Avery, the head baker at the Royal Naval cooking school, in Chatham Kent, made the cake, which took 14 weeks. They made two identical cakes in case one was damaged. The couple's other wedding cake was created by Belgian pastry chef S. G. Sender, who was known as the "cakemaker to the kings".[17] Yet another wedding cake was created by Chef Nicholas Lodge; Chef Nicholas had previously made the Queen Mother's 80th Birthday Cake and would be commissioned to create a Christening Cake for Prince Harry.[18]

Afterwards they enjoyed toasts and a wedding breakfast with 120 family guests.[1] A "just married" sign attached to the landau by Princes Andrew and Edward raised smiles as the married couple were driven over Westminster Bridge to get the train from Waterloo Station to Romsey in Hampshire to begin their honeymoon.[1]

Royal guests[edit]


The couple left from Waterloo station in the British Royal Train + 975025 Caroline travelling to Broadlands, where Prince Charles' parents had spent their wedding night.[13] They stayed there for three days.[13] They then flew to Gibraltar, where they boarded the Royal Yacht Britannia for an 11 day cruise of the Mediterranean, visiting Tunisia, Sardinia, Greece and Egypt. They then flew to Scotland, where the rest of the royal family had gathered at Balmoral Castle, and spent time in a hunting lodge on the estate, during which time the press were given an arranged opportunity to take pictures.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The period when the advice was given coincided with a change of government. Traditionally Irish presidents and British royalty did not meet publicly because of the Northern Ireland issue.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Charles and Diana marry". BBC News. 29 July 1981. Retrieved 13 October 2008. 
  2. ^ "International Special Report: Princess Diana, 1961-1997". The Washington Post. 30 January 1999. Retrieved 13 October 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Princess Diana's Wedding, Jone Johnson Lewis,
  4. ^ Diana: Her True Story, Commemorative Edition, by Andrew Morton, 1997, Simon & Schuster
  5. ^ "International Special Report: Princess Diana, 1961–1997". The Washington Post. 30 January 1999. Retrieved 13 October 2008. 
  6. ^ Richard, Kay (17 November 2010). "Haunted by Diana's shadow". Mail Online (UK). 
  7. ^ "Command: Regimental Sergeant Major". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 8 April 2011. 
  8. ^ "So which Royal bride spilled perfume all over her dress? Try our quiz as you wait for the wedding". Mail Online (UK). 29 April 2011. 
  9. ^ Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York City: Basic Books. p. 98. ISBN 0-465-04195-7. 
  10. ^ a b c Royal Wedding, The Times 29 July 1981, p, 15
  11. ^ "Princess Diana, Princess of Wales: Diana's wedding". Princess Diana. Retrieved 13 October 2008. 
  12. ^ UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2014), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  13. ^ a b c d Downie Jr., Leonard (29 July 1981). "Britain Celebrates, Charles Takes a Bride". The Washington Post (London). p. A01. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Wearing tiara caused Princess Diana wedding day headache, brother reveals". Daily Mail. 18 May 2012. 
  16. ^ "So which Royal bride spilled perfume all over her dress? Try our quiz as you wait for the wedding". Mail Online (UK). 29 April 2011. 
  17. ^ "Belgian "cakemaker to the kings" dies". Expatica. 20 July 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2009. 
  18. ^ "About Nicholas Lodge". 

External links[edit]