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When Charles Married Diana: Facts And Trivia About The 'Wedding Of The Century'

Icons | July 29, 2020

Newlyweds Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer share the famous kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, after ceremony. Source: Bettmann / Contributor via Getty Images

On July 29, 1981 an estimated 750 million people watched the “wedding of the century” between Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer. In the history of weddings, few, if any, other ceremonies can touch the over-the-top “fairytale wedding” that captivated British citizens and people all over the world. For instance, adjusting for inflation, that wedding today would cost a mind-bending $136,130,429.

The Wedding to end all weddings. (townandcountrymag)

In America, Super Bowls rank as the most-watched event every year, drawing more than 100 million globally. However, in comparison, the wedding of the century between Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Super Bowls attract about as much attention as a mouse fart. 

Prince Charles Searches For His Bride

Perhaps a few more dates wouldn't have hurt. (meaww)

During his 20’s, Prince Charles happily took the advice of Lord Mountbatten who told him to “sow his wild oats and have as many affairs as he [could] before settling down.” However, once he hit his 30’s, the pressure was on to find a suitable wife to sit on the throne. His potential wife was required to be courtly, beautiful, even-tempered, and naturally a virgin, although that last requirement wasn’t said in so many words. Strangely, Prince Charles started seeing Diana after dating her elder sister, Sarah. To add an even more fairy tale twist to it, Diana had previously worked as Sarah’s cleaning woman for a reported $1.60 an hour. Cinderella anyone?

A Short Courtship

Royalty requires many things before love, like a wife. (theroyal-weddings.blogspot)

The courtly couple had only been dating for 6 months before Prince Charles did the right thing for “this country and for my family” and popped the question on the steps of Windsor castle. According to Diana, the pair had only seen each other a scant 13 times between their first date and their 1981 wedding! That simple act set off perhaps the most excessive celebrations in marriage history. 

The Wedding Of The Century

The British royals know how to throw a ceremony. (rd)

Obviously, the heir to the British throne doesn’t get hitched all that often, so when they do they go all out. The 3,500 guests lucky enough to receive an invitation to the ceremony enjoyed a lesson in royal excess. Prince Charles chose the music which was performed by three choirs, three orchestras, and a “fanfare” ensemble.

The 20-year-old Diana was draped in a dress made of “ivory silk taffeta, decorated with lace, sequins, and 10,000 pearls.” Her train was 25 feet long, besting the previous record by 5 feet. The train was so long that the designers were forced to use an abandoned wing of the Buckingham palace to cut its size and shape. Diana was so stressed and nervous leading up to the wedding that she went from a 29-inch waist to a 23.5-inch waist. With her ever-shrinking figure, her dress needed to be fit 15 times!

Think all that was a bit much? The ceremony was topped off by an astounding 27 wedding cakes! The official cake was made by the naval forces, had a backup, in case things went wrong and took a full 14 weeks to make! Her ring actually wasn’t custom made but did include 14 solitaire diamonds around a 12-carat oval blue sapphire set in 18-karat white gold. The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton proudly wears it today. 

Starting Their Own Traditions

The happy couple, later -- and perhaps not so happy. Source: elitedaily.com

With so much international attention paid to their big day, it’s no surprise that the couple made some small mistakes. For one, Prince Charles forgot to seal his vows with a kiss, so the couple made up for it by kissing in view of the public on the Buckingham balcony. They both broke with tradition and created a new one that both of her sons followed many years later. Princess Diana also flubbed Prince Charles’ name, calling him “Philip Charles Arthur George” instead of “Charles Philip Arthur George.”

Depending on whether you asked Princess Diana before or after the couple’s divorce years later, she either thought the wedding was “was heaven, amazing, wonderful, though I was so nervous when I was walking up the aisle that I swore my knees would knock and make a noise.” Or “the worst day of my life,” that felt like being “a lamb to the slaughter.”  

Tags: Princess Diana | Princr Charles | Royals | Weddings

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Kellar Ellsworth

Writer

Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!