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Sunday, 29 July, 2001, 06:26 GMT 07:26 UK
Royal wedding 20 years on
Charles and Diana
Charles and Diana's happiness was short lived
Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of the fairytale royal marriage which ended in tragedy.

Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer on 29 July 1981 in a ceremony which gripped the nation and launched the bride's transformation into an icon of the 20th century.

Some say it was the wedding of the century but over the years the relationship unravelled and ended in divorce.

Diana died in a car crash in Paris in August 1997.

The white wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales was watched by an estimated crowd of 600,000 people who had lined the streets of London, and a worldwide TV audience of 750 million.

One of the most enduring memories of the occasion was Diana emerging from the royal carriage at St Paul's cathedral to reveal the best kept secret - her elaborate silk taffeta wedding dress with a 25ft-long train.

Historic moment

But most will remember the moment when royal protocol was cast aside and the happy couple kissed on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, cheered on by the crowd gathered below.

Diana was the first English woman to marry an heir to England's throne in over 300 years.

Both the bride and groom displayed wedding nerves as they fluffed their marriage vows.

Charles and Diana
Charles and Diana: wedding of the 20th century
Diana inverted the Prince's names and married someone called "Philip Charles Arthur George", and Charles promised "with all thy goods I share with thee" instead of "all my worldly goods I share with thee".

But their happiness was short-lived.

Charles could not give up his friendship with Camilla Parker Bowles and Diana's emotional health suffered and she sought solace in the company of others.

They separated in December 1992 and were divorced in August 1996.

Charles plans to spend the wedding anniversary watching his favourite sport - polo.

He will present trophies at Cowdray Park Polo Club, near Midhurst, West Sussex, where England are playing Brazil for the 1911 Coronation Cup.

The BBC's Jane Warr
"The royal wedding was watched by 750 million people around the world"
Mirror Newspaper's Royal Columnist, James Whittaker
"I am not sure that everything went as she wanted, on her wedding day"
See also:

05 Nov 97 | Africa
Prince Charles praises Diana
26 Oct 98 | UK
'Let Diana be'
11 Jun 99 | royal wedding
Shattering the royal marriage myth
03 Jan 98 | Events of the year
The year of Diana
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