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

Charles and Diana Wedding

Diana and Charles Wedding Rings

St Paul's Cathedral

Parents Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Elizabeth II

John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer
Frances Shand Kydd

Supporters Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Bridesmaids Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones
India Hicks
Catherine Cameron
Sarah-Jane Gaselee
Clementine Hambro
Pages Lord Nicholas Windsor
Edward van Cutsem
Location St Paul's Cathedral,
London, United Kingdom
Date Wednesday, 29 July 1981

The Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Frances Spencer took place on Wednesday, 29 July 1981 at St Paul's Cathedral, London, United Kingdom. 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. The United Kingdom had a national holiday on the day to mark the occasion. The couple's marriage soon became troubled, causing them to separate in 1992 and divorce in 1996.


Charles, Prince of Wales is the eldest child of four children to Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of England. At the time of his marriage, Charles was first in the line of succession to the English throne, a position which he holds today.

Lady Diana Frances Spencer was the fourth out of five children to the Viscount and Viscountess Althorp. The Spencers had been allied with the Royal Family for several generations. Before her marriage to the prince, Diana worked in several fields including cleaning, dance instruction and child care.


Main article: Engagement of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer

The Prince of Wales, who had known Lady Diana Spencer for several years, took serious interest in her as a potential bride during the summer of 1980, when they were both guests at a country weekend, where she watched him play polo. Previously, Charles had dated Diana's elder sister, Sarah.

Charles and Diana's relationship developed further 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 by the Queen, Prince Philip, and the Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. The couple then had several dates in London.

Engagement of Charles and Diana

Charles and Diana on the day of their engagement announcement.

Diana and Charles had been seeing each other for about six months when the prince proposed on 3 February 1981 at the nursery in Windsor Castle. He knew she planned a holiday for the next week, and hoped she would use the time to consider her answer. Diana accepted, but their engagement was kept secret for the next few weeks.

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. Many copies of the ring have been made in both well-established jewellery shops and high-street fashion chains all over the world.


St Paul's Cathedral Charles & Diana's Wedding

Guests at the wedding of Charles and Diana inside St. Paul's cathedral.

There were 3,500 people in the congregation at St Paul's Cathedral. 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. 750 million people are said to have watched the ceremony worldwide, and the figure allegedly rose to a billion when the radio audience was added in, however, there are no means of verifying these figures. Two million spectators lined the route of Diana's procession from Clarence House, with 4,000 police and 2,200 military officers called in to manage the crowds.

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

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. She arrived almost on time for the 11:20 BST ceremony. 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 reversed the order of Charles's names, saying "Philip Charles Arthur George" instead of "Charles Philip Arthur George". 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.

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

The music and songs used during the wedding included the "Prince of Denmark's March", "I Vow to Thee, My Country" and the British National Anthem.

Wedding attireEdit

Main article: Wedding dress of Lady Diana Spencer
Lady Diana's wedding dress

Diana's wedding dress.

Diana's wedding dress, valued at £9000 (£25,713 as of 2011), was a puff ball meringue wedding dress, with large puffed sleeves and a frilly neckline. 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.

Diana's train

Diana's extravagant ivory train.

The bride wore her family's heirloom, the Spencer tiara. According to her brother, Charles Spencer, Diana was unused to wearing a tiara and it gave her a headache. Diana also reportedly spilled perfume all over her wedding dress.

Charles wore his full dress naval commander uniform.


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 (age 17), the Earl of Snowdon and Princess Margaret's daughter; 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 The Countess Peel), granddaughter of Lord and Lady Soames and great-granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill. HRH The Prince Andrew (aged 21) and HRH The Prince Edward (aged 17) were the Prince of Wales' supporters (the equivalent of "best man" for a royal wedding).


Charles and Diana Wedding

Charles and Diana's kiss for the crowd.

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

The couple had 27 wedding cakes with the official wedding cake supplied by the Naval Armed Forces. David Avery, the head baker at the Royal Naval cooking school, in Chatham Kent, made the cake. It took 14 weeks, and the bottom layer took 12 hours to bake. They made two identical cakes in case one was damaged in transit. The cake was undamaged and the standby cake was distributed amongst the naval cookery trainees. Each got two pieces, one for the trainee and one for their mother. Amongst other suppliers of cake was Classic Celebration Cakes in Cheshire who have also been involved in supplying wedding cakes for the last five official royal weddings. The couple's other wedding cake was created by Belgian pastry chef S. G. Sender, who was known as the "cakemaker to the kings".

Afterwards they enjoyed toasts and a wedding breakfast with 120 family guests. 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 catch the train from Waterloo Station to Romsey in Hampshire to begin their honeymoon.


Diana and Charles Family Wedding Photo

The Family Wedding photo.

Main article: Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer/List of wedding guests


The couple left from Waterloo station in the Royal Train traveling to Broadlands, where Prince Charles' parents had spent their wedding night. 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.


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