The wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer took place on Wednesday, 29 July 1981 at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, United Kingdom. The ceremony was a traditional Church of England wedding service. Notable figures in attendance included many members of royal families from across the world, republican heads of state, and members of the bride’s and groom’s families. 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 that day to mark the wedding. The couple separated in 1992 and divorced in 1996.
All of the Queen’s governors-general, as well as Europe’s crowned heads, attended, with the exception of King Juan Carlos I of Spain. (The Spanish king was advised not to attend by his government because the newlyweds’ honeymoon included a stopover in the disputed territory of Gibraltar). Most of Europe’s elected heads of state were among 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)
Lady Diana arrived at the cathedral in the Glass Coach with her father, John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer, and escorted by six mounted Metropolitan Police officers. She arrived almost on time for the 11:20 BST ceremony. The carriage was too small to hold the two of them comfortably due to her voluminous 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 accidentally changed the order of Charles’s names during her vows, saying “Philip Charles Arthur George” instead of the correct “Charles Philip Arthur George”. Charles also made an error. He said he would offer her “thy goods” instead of “my worldly goods”. She did not promise to “obey” him as part of the traditional vows. That word was eliminated at the couple’s request, which caused a sensation at the time.
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. The directors and conductors of the music for the occasion included Sir David Willcocks, Christopher Dearnley, Barry Rose, Richard Popplewell and Sir Colin Davis.
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.
Diana’s wedding dress was valued at £9000 (equivalent to £31,110 as of 2015), The dress was made of ivory 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.
The bride wore her Spencer family’s heirloom tiara. According to her brother, Charles Spencer, Diana was unused to wearing a tiara and it gave her a headache.
Diana was reported to have spilled perfume all over her wedding dress. The official parfumeur of the royal wedding was the House of Houbigant, the oldest French fragrance company.
The royal couple had seven bridal attendants. Eleven-year-old Lord Nicholas Windsor, son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and eight-year-old Edward van Cutsem, godsons of the Prince of Wales, were page boys. Diana’s bridesmaids were seventeen-year-old Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, daughter of the Earl of Snowdon and Princess Margaret; thirteen-year-old India Hicks, the granddaughter of the Earl Mountbatten of Burma and daughter of David and Lady Pamela Hicks; six-year-old Catherine Cameron, daughter of Donald and Lady Cecil Cameron and granddaughter of the Marquess of Lothian; eleven year-old Sarah-Jane Gaselee, daughter of Nick Gaselee and his wife; and five-year-old Clementine Hambro, daughter of Rupert Hambro and the Hon Mrs Hambro (now Countess Peel) and granddaughter of Lord and Lady Soames and great-granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill. Andrew and Edward were the Prince of Wales’s supporters (the equivalent of “best man” for a royal wedding).
The couple and 120 guests went to Buckingham Palace for a wedding breakfast following the ceremony. Diana and Charles made a traditional appearance on a balcony of Buckingham Palace at 13:10 BST, and delighted the crowd when they kissed.
The couple had 27 wedding cakes. The official wedding cake was supplied by the Naval Armed Forces. David Avery, head baker at the Royal Naval cooking school in Chatham Kent, made the cake over 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”. 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.
A “just married” sign was attached to the landau by Princes Andrew and Edward, which raised smiles as the married couple was driven over Westminster Bridge to catch the train from Waterloo Station to Romsey in Hampshire to begin their honeymoon.