On July 29, 1981, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer marry at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles said their “I dos” at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Around 3,500 guests were in attendance at the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales and an estimated 750 million people around the world watched the ceremony on television.
Prince Charles first met Lady Diana, in 1977. At the time, he was dating her older sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale. Charles and Diana’s romance didn’t begin until 1980, beginning a whirlwind romantic relationship that captivated the world.
He took a serious interest in her as a potential bride in 1980 when they were guests at a country weekend, where she watched him play polo. He invited her for a sailing weekend to Cowes aboard the royal yacht as their relationship began to develop. This was followed by an invitation to Balmoral Castle, the Royal family’s Scottish home, to meet his family. Diana was well received at Balmoral by Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip, and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The couple then had several dates in London. Prince Charles proposed to Lady Diana on 3 February 1981 in the nursery at Windsor Castle. Diana had planned a holiday for the next week, and Charles 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, and the couple gave an exclusive interview. During the public announcement of the engagement, Diana wore a “cobalt blue skirt suit” by the British label Cojana.
Two nights before the wedding, a gala ball was held at Buckingham, and the Queen subsequently hosted a dinner for a crowd of 90 individuals. A reception with dancing for 1,500 people was also held. Among the invitees were the royal household members and staff. The night before the wedding 150 people, including heads of states and governments, were invited for a dinner with the Queen.
The wedding took place on 29 July 1981. 3,500 guests made up the congregation at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Charles and Diana selected St Paul’s over Westminster Abbey, the traditional site of royal weddings because St Paul’s offered more seating and permitted a longer procession through London.
Prominent guests at the wedding included U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan and Princess Grace of Monaco. Outside the cathedral were at least two million people.
Diana’s dress, designed by Elizabeth and David Emanuel, was made of ivory silk taffeta, decorated with lace and hand embroidery, sequins and 10,000 pearls, with a 25-foot long train.
During the ceremony, Diana said Charles’ full name incorrectly as, “Philip Charles Arthur George” instead of “Charles Philip Arthur George.” The pair caused quite a stir at the time with an intentional change, eliminating “to obey” from the vows.
After the ceremony, the two made a traditional appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace but started the trend of kissing each other. That trend was followed by their son, Prince William and his wife, Duchess Kate, at their wedding 30 years later.
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