Inside Princess Diana’s iconic wedding to Prince Charles

29th July 1981: Formal portrait of Lady Diana Spencer (1961 - 1997) in her wedding dress designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

PRINCESS Diana’s royal wedding was attended by thousands and watched by millions across the globe.

The Princess was just 20 years old when she became the wife to the then Prince Charles.

Princess Diana’s iconic wedding dress is one of the most famous in the world and was designed by David Emanuel and his ex-wife Elizabeth Emanuel.

When was Princess Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles?

The wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles took place on July 29, 1981 at 11am in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Their special day was also declared a national holiday in the UK.

How long were the couple engaged?

The Prince of Wales first met his future bride when she was just 16, in November 1977.

He had been dating her older sister Lady Sarah, but it wasn’t until the summer of 1980 when Diana watched him play polo during a country weekend, that he took a serious interest in her as a bride.

Charles proposed to Lady Diana on February 6, 1981, after a whirlwind romance.

In the 2017 documentary, Diana: In Her Own Words, personal tapes showed the late princess with her voice coach, Peter Settelen. She said: “We met 13 times and we got married.”

The couple officially announced their engagement on February 24, 1981, and married months later.

Princess Diana became the first British citizen to marry the heir to the throne since 1660.

Why did Charles and Diana marry at St Paul’s?

Traditionally, royal weddings used to take place at Westminster Abbey, but Prince Charles and Diana chose to have theirs at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Their wedding was the first royal wedding to be held there since 1501.

In total, the couple had around 3,500 guests in their congregation.

Charles and Diana leaving St Paul’s during their “fairytale” wedding.

Who were the wedding guests?

As Prince Charles is heir to the throne, the wedding was deemed to be a “state occasion”, and so many of the invitations were for foreign heads of state.

These included the King and Queen Belgium, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Norway, Margaret Thatcher, who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at the time, and Nancy Reagan, the then-First Lady of the United States.

Of course, the guest list included the couple’s immediate family, and for Charles these included:

  • The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, his parents
  • Princess Anne and first husband Captain Mark Phillips, his sister and brother-in-law
  • Prince Andrew, his brother
  • Prince Edward, his brother

For Diana, these included: 

  • The Earl and Countess Spencer, her father and stepmother
  • Lady Sarah and Mr Neil McCorquodale, her sister and brother-in-law
  • Lady Jane and Mr Robert Fellowes, her sister and brother-in-law
  • Viscount Althorp (Charles Spencer), her brother

Other invitees included the couple’s friends and Diana invited the staff of the nursery school she used to work in to the wedding.

Speaking on Channel 5’s Charles and Di: The Truth Behind Their Wedding, Mary Robertson, who used to pay Diana to look after her child before she was a royal, said Diana had only been allowed personal 100 invitations.

Where did Charles and Diana go on their honeymoon?

The royal couple spent most of their two-week honeymoon sailing the Mediterranean aboard the royal yacht Britannia, before heading to Scotland.

However, it wasn’t all romance, as Diana is said to have felt “oppressed” at the Queen’s Scottish estate Balmoral.

On the Netflix documentary The Story of Diana, which initially aired in 2017, historian Sally Bedell Smith reveals: “She seemed to be having a great time, but in fact, she couldn’t stand being at Balmoral.”

The couple put on a great show for photographers and royal snapper Jane Fincher recalled how they acted “romantic” in shots.

While they were aboard their yacht, Princess Diana is said to have discovered that Prince Charles still carried items around in honour of his former flame, Camilla Parker Bowles.

Was the royal wedding shown on TV?

Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding was watched by 28.4 million British TV viewers on BBC and ITV.

It was estimated to have been watched by a global TV audience of 750 million in 74 countries, while 600,000 lined the streets of London.