The wedding between Lady Diana Spencer and Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales took place on July 29, 1981. The grand wedding was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral, in London. The fairy tale story however didn’t have a happy ending. The royal couple separated in 1992 and eventually, in 1996, they were officially divorced.
Wedding of the Century
Their wedding was very traditional and in attendance were numerous notable personalities such as members of royal families from different countries all over the world, heads of states, and the relatives of both the bride and the groom. The media called the wedding a “fairytale wedding” and “wedding of the century”. Approximately 750 million people watched the telecast of the event on television. England also declared it a national holiday.
Almost 4,000 people were in attendance at the wedding ceremony. The royal couple chose St Paul as the venue and not Westminster Abbey. The abbey is the traditional place for royal weddings but the couple wanted St Paul’s since it could seat a bigger crowd and because the Cathedral permitted a larger procession around London.
Very Reverend Alan Webster, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Most Reverend Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury presided over the ceremony. There were about two million people along the route from Clarence House alone and 4,000 members of the police and over 2,000 military officers were tasked to handle the massive crowds.
The next day, the royal couple, along with over a hundred guests, arrived in Buckingham Palace for the wedding breakfast. There was a traditional appearance made by Charles and Diana in the balcony of the palace.
Lady Diana and Charles knew each other for many years. But it wasn’t until the summer of 1980 that Charles saw a great potential in Diana as a wife and princess. In one intimate gathering, Diana watched Prince Charles play polo and after the game, he invited Diana to go sailing with him for a weekend.
Afterwards, Charles invited Diana to Balmoral Castle, the Scottish home of the Windsor family. The invitation was extended because the prince wanted Diana to meet his relatives. The family received Diana well. In attendance were Prince Philip and the queen herself, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
In London, the couple spent a lot of time with each other. Their engagement commenced in late February 1981. Charles proposed to Diana after six months of dating. Even though she accepted, the couple decided to keep their engagement a secret for some weeks.
Diana chose a big engagement ring (it reportedly cost £30,000) made of 14 solitaire diamonds surrounding a 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire. The stones were set in 18k white gold. Not surprisingly, the ring became so popular that numerous copies of it continue to be made by top jewelery designers in the world up to this day. The official cake at the wedding was produced by the Naval Armed Forces and it reported that the head baker of the Royal Naval cooking school, David Avery, spent 14 weeks to make the cake.