Over 750 million worldwide watched as Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles and their wedding day was a public holiday in the United Kingdom.
St Paul’s Cathedral was chosen as the site for their wedding over Westminster Abbey, as St Paul’s offered more seating and allowed for a longer procession through the streets of London. The service was presided over by the Most Reverend Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury and the Very Reverend Alan Webster, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Two million people lined the route of Diana’s procession from Clarence House to the Cathedral as 4,000 police officers and over 2,00 military officers controlled the crowds. The wedding was attended by all of the Queen’s governors-general as well as the Kings and Queens of Europe, with the exception of King Juan Carlos I of Spain, who had been advised by his government not to attend because Diana and Charles’s honeymoon would include the disputed territory of Gibraltar. Many of the elected heads of state of Europe were also present. Even the United States was represented at the wedding by the then First Lady Nancy Reagan.
Diana arrived at the Cathedral in the Glass Coach with her father, John Spencer, the 8th Earl Spencer and was escorted by six mounted Metropolitan Police officers. Diana’s dress was made of ivory silk taffeta, and it was decorated with lace, embroidery, sequins and 10,000 pearls. The design was by Elizabeth and David Emanuel. It had a 25-foot train of ivory taffeta and antique lace. The dress was valued at £9000. She wore the Spencer family’s heirloom tiara. She also a spare wedding dress, in case the design of the dress was revealed before the wedding.
During the ceremony 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”. At the couple’s request, she did not promise to “obey” him as part of the traditional vows.
Diana’s bridesmaids were Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, India Hicks, Catherine Cameron, Sarah-Jane Gaselee and Clementine Hambro. Lord Nicholas Windsor and Edward van Cutsem were page boys. Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were Prince Charles’s supporters.
After the ceremony, the couple and 120 guests went to Buckingham Palace for a wedding breakfast. The couple appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in the afternoon for a crowd-pleasing kiss. To begin their honeymoon they were driven to Waterloo station in a landau with a “just married” sign attached to it by Princes Andrew and Edward.
Although we now know how the marriage would turn out, the wedding was the fairy tale of the century.