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Engagement

The Prince of Wales, who had known Lady Diana Spencer for several years, took a serious interest in her as a potential bride during the summer of 1980, when they were guests at a country weekend, where she watched him play polo. The relationship developed as he invited her for a sailing weekend to Cowes aboard the royal yacht Britannia, followed by an invitation to Balmoral Castle, the Windsor family's Scottish home, to meet his family. Diana was well received at Balmoral by The Queen, Prince Philip, and the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The couple then had several dates in London. Diana and Charles had been seeing each other for about six months when he proposed on 3 February 1981 at a dinner for two at Buckingham Palace. He knew she planned a holiday for the next week, and hoped she would use the time to consider her answer. Diana accepted, but their engagement was kept secret for the next few weeks.

Their engagement became official on 24 February 1981, after Diana selected a large £30,000 ring consisting of 14 diamonds surrounding a blue sapphire which was previously gifted to Elizabeth II by the president of Sri Lanka, J. R. Jayewardene. Diana's first son, Prince William of Wales, gave Diana's ring to Kate Middleton as an engagement ring. Many copies of the ring have been made in both well-established jewellery shops and high-street fashion chains.

Wedding

There were 3,500 people in the congregation at St Paul's Cathedral. It was held at St Paul's rather than Westminster Abbey because St Paul's offered more seating and permits a longer procession through the streets of London. The service was a traditional Church of England wedding service, presided over by the Most Reverend Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Very Reverend Alan Webster, the Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral. Some say 750 million people watched the ceremony worldwide, and this figure allegedly rose to a billion when the radio audience is added in, however, there are no means of verifying these figures. Two million spectators lined the route of Diana's procession from Clarence House, with 4,000 police and 2,200 military officers to manage the crowds.

Regiments from the Commonwealth realms participated in the procession, including the Royal Regiment of Canada.

Lady Diana arrived at the cathedral in the Glass Coach with her father, John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer, escorted by six mounted metropolitan police officers. She arrived almost on time for the 11:20 BST ceremony. The carriage was too small to comfortably hold the two of them in her 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.

During the vows Diana accidentally reversed the order of Charles's names, saying Philip Charles Arthur George instead. She did not promise to "obey" him; that traditional vow was left out at the couple's request, which caused a sensation at the time.

Other church representatives present, who gave prayers following the service, were the 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.

The music and songs used during the wedding included the Prince of Denmark's March, I Vow to Thee, My Country and the British National Anthem.

Clothing

Main article: Wedding dress of Lady Diana SpencerDiana's wedding dress, valued at £9000 (£25,713 as of 2011), was a puff ball meringue wedding dress, with huge puffed sleeves and a frilly neckline. The dress was made of 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.

Attendants

They had seven bridal attendants:

  • Edward van Cutsem (aged 8) (both godsons of the Prince of Wales)
  • Catherine Cameron (aged 6), daughter of Donald
  • Lady Cecil Cameron, granddaughter of the Marquess of Lothian; Sarah-Jane Gaselee (aged 11), daughter of Nick Gaselee and his wife

Reception

After the ceremony, the couple went to Buckingham Palace for a dinner for 120. Appearing on a balcony at 1310 BST, Diana and Charles kissed for the crowd below.

The couple had 27 wedding cakes with the official wedding cake being supplied by the Naval Armed Forces. David Avery, the head baker at the Royal Naval cooking school, in chatham Kent, made the cake. It took 14 weeks, and the bottom layer took 12 hours to bake. They made 2 identical cakes, just in case one was damaged in transit. The cake was undamaged and the standby cake was distributed amongst the naval cookery trainees. Each got 2 pieces, one for the trainee and one for their mother. Avery never ate a final slice of cake, although he did sample as he was making the cake. Amongst the other suppliers of the cake was Classic Celebration Cakes in Cheshire who have also been involved in supplying wedding cakes for the last five official royal weddings. The couple's other wedding cake was created by Belgian pastry chef S. G. Sender, who was known as the "cakemaker to the kings".

Afterwards they enjoyed toasts and a wedding breakfast with 120 family guests. A "just married" sign attached to the landau by Princes Andrew and Edward raised smiles as the married couple were driven over Westminster Bridge to get the train from Waterloo Station to Romsey in Hampshire to begin their honeymoon.

Royal guests

Honeymoon

The couple left from Waterloo station in the Royal Train travelling to Broadlands, where Prince Charles' parents had spent their wedding night. They then flew to Gibraltar, where they boarded the Royal Yacht Britannia for an 11 day cruise of the Mediteranean, visiting Tunisia, Sardinia, Greece and Egypt. They then flew to Scotland, where the rest of the royal family had gathered at Balmoral Castle, and spent time in a hunting lodge on the estate, during which time the press were given an arranged opportunity to take pictures.

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