23 Rarely Seen Photos of the Wedding of the 20th Century of The Prince and Princess of Wales

It's been almost 25 years since she was gone but the late Princess of Wales remained a global sensation that even her wedding is still worth remembering. 

Today, July 29, 2022, marks the 41st anniversary of the wedding of the 20th century. The Prince and Princess of Wales wed on July 29, 1981, at St. Paul's Cathedral, London in front of 3,500 guests. Their wedding had estimated television viewers of 750 million, making the event, one of the most watched in television shows in world history.

The Prince and Princess of Wales rode in a horse-drawn carriage after the ceremony

At the palace's balcony. The newlyweds and their bride's maids joined by The Queen

Lady Diana Spencer was only 20 years old at the time of the wedding, while The Prince of Wales was 32. She was the first English woman to marry an heir to the British throne since Lady Anne Hyde married the future King James II in the 17th century.

Diana was also the last member of the British aristocracy to marry a senior member of the British royal family. Her father was a British nobleman, Johnny Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer of Althorp.

22 Facts About the Wedding of The 20th Century:

  1. The Prince of Wales proposed to Lady Diana Spencer on February 3, 1981, six months after they began dating in July 1980. The Queen officially announced their formal engagement on February 24, 1981.
  2. Lady Diana Spencer moved to Clarence House to live with the Queen Mother following the announcement of their engagement. And moved to Buckingham Palace apartment a few months later, just before the wedding to learn about royal life.
  3. Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer had two wedding rehearsals, which was rare in the Royal Family. The first rehearsal was held on June 21, 1981 (interestingly, the day their firstborn son, Prince William, was born a year later), and the second rehearsal was held on July 27, 1981.
  4. They decided to hold the wedding ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral rather than at Westminster Abbey because SPC can accommodate more guests than Westminster Abbey. It was the first royal wedding held at St. Paul since 1501.
  5. The bride did not wear high heels so as not to tower her husband. Both the Prince and Princess of Wales stood at 5 feet and 10 inches tall.
  6. Diana's 25-foot train was the longest train ever worn by a royal bride. She also wore a pair of heart slippers with C and D initials hand-painted on her arches and decorated with 542 sequins and 132 pearls, it was created by Clive Shilton, along with the tiny golden horseshoe design sewn into her gown for good luck. 
  7. She was so nervous on her wedding day that she accidentally mixed up Prince Charles' full name, referring to him as Philip Charles Arthur George instead of Charles Philip Arthur George. Which earned a running joke at that time, "Diana had just married Prince Philip!"
  8. She also did not utter the word "obey" her husband, which was part of the traditional marriage vows. It was deliberately omitted as a personal request of both Charles and Diana to eliminate the word, which caused controversy at that time. 
  9. The Prince of Wales was nervous too and made a blunder! He said he would offer her "thy (your) goods" instead of "my worldly goods".
  10. In keeping with the tradition, the couple's wedding rings were crafted from Welsh gold from the Clogau St David's mine in Bontddu. The tradition of using Welsh gold within the wedding rings of the Royal Family dates back to 1923.
  11. Prince Charles wore a wedding ring! Most British princes never wore a wedding ring. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, opted not to wear a wedding ring.
  12. They had 27 wedding cakes! Oh! And their official wedding cake (displayed at the wedding reception) was a multi-tiered fruit cake made by the head baker at the Royal Naval Cookery School. 
  13. The Prince of Wales's coat of arms and the Spencer family's crest were used in the decoration of the five-foot-tall layered fruitcake which weighed 225 pounds.
  14. The bridal bouquet was made up of white orchids, freesias, gardenias, and lily of the valley flowers, weighed around 2 kilos, and was nearly 42 inches long.
  15. Irish couple, David and Elizabeth Emanuel, were tapped to design Lady Diana's dreamy ivory taffeta gown. The designs were kept secret until the day of the ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral.
  16. 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 (7.6 m) train of ivory taffeta and antique lace. The wedding dress was valued at £9,000 in 1981 or equivalent to £36,700 in 2021.
  17. Something old, something borrowed, something blue. The wedding dress had an antique lace "made with a fabric spun at a British silk farm" (the "old"), the Spencer family tiara and her mother's earrings (the "borrowed"), and a blue bow sewn into the waistband (the "blue").
  18. The official perfumer of the royal wedding was Houbigant Parfum, the oldest French fragrance company. Diana chose the floral scent Quelques Fleurs, which featured "notes of tuberose, jasmine and rose". She was reported to have accidentally spilled perfume over a part of her dress which she later covered with her hand during the ceremony.
  19. The Prince of Wales wore his full dress naval commander uniform. He also wore stars of the orders of the Garter and the Thistle, the Queen's silver jubilee medal, and "the royal cipher of the Prince of Wales in gold on epaulets on both shoulders." He carried a "full dress sword tassled in gold.
  20. Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, daughter of Princess Margaret, acted as Diana's maid of honor, while the groom's younger brothers, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, stood as his best men.
  21. The Princess of Wales was the last royal bride of a British heir to be transported in a Glass Coach. She was also the last aristocratic woman to marry into the British royal family.
  22. Following the wedding, Buckingham Palace Press Office announced the correct style of the bride: Her Royal Highness Diana, The Princess of Wales.
23 Rarely Seen Photos About the Wedding of the 20th Century:

First wedding rehearsal, June 21, 1981. Getty Images

Second wedding rehearsal, July 27, 1981. Getty Images
Wedding accessories sketch: Wedding shoes and umbrella
Lady Diana Spencer long walked to the altar
Prince Charles and his younger brothers who stood as his best men: Prince Andrew and Prince Edward
Lady Diana Spencer was transported in a Glass Coach to St. Paul's Cathedral

She wore a 25-foot train, the longest train ever worn by a royal bride

The bridal entourage led by Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones and Prince Edward
The Princess of Wales carried her little bride's maid as The Queen looked on

The Princess of Wales checking on her little bride's maid as The Queen looked on
Lady Diana in the arm of her father, the 8th Earl Spencer of Althorp

Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, the chief bride's maid or maid of honor
A closer look at the bride's long train

The new Princess of Wales curtsied in front of the royal family

The bride and groom during the ceremony

Bride's family: Earl Spencer, Francis Shand-Kydd (Diana's mother), Charles Spencer, and Lady Fermoy (Diana's maternal grandmother)

The Prince and Princess of Wales after the ceremony

Prince Philip, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, Mrs. Frances Shand-Kydd, Princess Margaret, The Queen, The 8th Earl Spencer of Althorp

The couple had 27 wedding cakes but this one was one of the official wedding cakes displayed at the wedding reception. Five-foot-tall layered fruitcake 

The newlyweds arrived at Buckingham Palace
The new Princess of Wales arrived at Buckingham Palace

The Prince and Princess of Wales arrived at Buckingham Palace

The bridal entourage, their respective families, and royals around the world. In the front row, left side: King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Silvia (wearing olive green dress). In the right side: Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg and his wife, Grand Duchess Charlotte (in lilac dress)

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