Charles and Diana's Royal Wedding

In 1981, the British royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer took place at which venue?

And the answer: St. Paul's Cathedral.  

Photo credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Instead of the traditional Westminster Abbey, Charles and Diana selected St. Paul's Cathedral because it could accommodate 3,500 guests. Around the world, an estimated 750 million people watched the event on television.  

Charles and Diana's wedding was monumental in a variety of ways. As the "People's Princess," Lady Diana was the first British citizen to marry an heir to the throne in over 300 years. As such, the event was more than fanfare-filled – it was a scene of downright fairytale.

Leaders from all over Europe were invited to the spectacle, along with America's representative, First Lady Nancy Reagan. For weeks in advance, headlines discussing where leaders were partying, what they wore, and who they were with populated British and international news publications alike.

When the day came, no ado was spared. The date was declared a national holiday so that more royal subjects could watch, an act which they did with vigor. Over 600,000 spectators crowded the British streets hoping to catch a glimpse of the happy couple. Inside St. Paul's Cathedral, the wedding's 3,500 guests did much of the same. From home, millions watched with rapture.

The wedding was famous for breaking convention in another way: Princess Diana was the first royal to omit the line "to obey" in her wedding vows (Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle followed suit). This choice was intentional, and represented an attempt to instill a greater since of agency in the role of the Princess. However liberating, it did not pass without critique for the more conservative followers of the British throne.

The wedding also represented the beginning of Princess Diana's cultural following. From that moment on, she began to solidify her role as the People's Princess, earning her a near-cult following that only grew over the following decade. Her style, charm, and honesty were a breath of fresh air in the tradition of the British throne.

Watch footage from the monumental wedding below.


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