(England Twitter)-Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Stillwood 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 a global television audience of 750 million. The United Kingdom had a national holiday on that day to mark the wedding. The couple separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.
Prince Charles, who had known Diana 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 Queen Elizabeth II, by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and 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 a dinner for two at Buckingham Palace. 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 diamonds surrounding a blue sapphire which was previously gifted to Queen Elizabeth II by the president of Sri Lanka, J. R. Jayewardene. Diana's first son, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge gave Diana's ring to Kate Middleton as an engagement ring. Many copies of the ring have been made in both well-established jewellery shops and high-street fashion chains.
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. Another 750 million people watched the ceremony worldwide, making it the most popular programme ever broadcast, and this figure rose to a billion when the radio audience is added in.Two million spectators lined the route of Diana's procession from Clarence House, with 4,000 police and 2,200 military officers 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 five mounted military 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.
Diana's wedding dress, valued at £9000 (£25,713 as of 2011), was a puff ball meringue wedding dress, with huge 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. 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).
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