BBC Home
Explore the BBC
Search ON THIS DAY by date
Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
About This Site | Text Only
1981: The fairytale wedding
Prince Charles and Lady Diana married in London on 29 July 1981.

No expense was spared for the ceremony and many royal-watchers described the lavish occasion as the greatest wedding of all time.

It is unlikely there will be another royal event as grand or as eagerly anticipated - until perhaps the marriage of the couple's eldest son, Prince William.

Crowds of 600,000 turned out to cheer the newly-weds, and the whole day was played live to a record global audience of 750 million.

Your memories of the royal wedding:

I was a member of the Royal Guard of Honour outside St Pauls for the wedding of Charles and Diana.

I was featured on a documentary back in 2001 for the 20th anniversary.

My biggest memories are of the sheer volume of the crowds cheering all over London, and also how stunning Diana looked when her carriage stopped just a few feet in front of me outside St Pauls.

Amazing day, now permanently etched in my mind forever.
Pete Buckingham, UK

I was 19 at the time and six of us took our sleeping bags the evening before the wedding and staked our place on the Mall. The atmosphere was amazing.

Apart from the actual wedding procession on the day, perhaps the best memory was hundreds of us all dancing with each other down the centre of the Mall at about 3am - all complete strangers united in a very happy moment.
Claudia, France

I was eight-years old when Lady Di married her Prince Charming, but I remember watching every bit of the wedding on television with my mother and six-year-old sister.

I'd been to the UK to visit cousins a few months before so had all the necessary memorabilia like the cup, stamps, etc. My sister even had a "Lady Di" haircut.

Looking back on the video footage now, Diana looked pale, thin and had dark rings under eyes - a huge contrast to her rosy-cheeked freshness when they announced their engagement. But everyone was totally taken in by the pageantry and pomp of the day, wishing with all their hearts that it could be true. Unfortunately for her, it was not to be.
Ann, Ireland

I was living in London as part of my "O/E" for the Kiwi Youth Overseas Experience. I stood for hours with a cardboard periscope, to see over the heads of the people in front! I really felt like I was experiencing a moment in history and loved the whole pomp and ceremony bit!
Ceinwen Rees, NZ

I was 12 and the only thing on my mind that day was playing football! I recall coming home from the park and the watching the remainder of the events - I was absolutely transfixed.

Then I thought how I wished I had been watching from the start - I had just missed a part of history.

You have to say we know how to put on a show for occasions like this, the most recent example being the Jubilee of course. Wonderful spectacle and proud to be British.
Lee Perry

I remember watching the ceremony on TV. The best part of the day for me was watching everyone arrive at St. Paul's Cathedral. My elder brother was in the Army at the time and was chosen to be one of the servicemen to be in full ceremonial uniform lining the steps of St. Paul's.
Dominic Melville, UK

I was four when Princess Di married Charles. She had married her Prince Charming and it was like something out of a children's storybook, but as Diana found out, life's not like that.

I remember watching the wedding with my mum on the television and then we had a street party which lasted all day.
Ann Marie Lynch, England

I remember watching the wedding on TV. I also remember that my sister was at a pony club event where they set up a television so as they could see the wedding, only to find that it was all the boys who were watching the wedding - none of the girls seemed too interested!

I was just one year younger than Diana when she was married. I got up absurdly early to watch the wedding in California, when no one else around me was interested.

I loved her gown, wanted her jewels, and wanted Charles
Carol Mitteldorf, US
I loved her gown, wanted her jewels, and wanted Charles. It was a beautiful wedding, and Diana was there living my dream, while I, just as innocent, looked on, without a clue as to what was really going on, but happily, romantically, enjoying the day.
Carol Mitteldorf, US

I had just turned four-years-old when the wedding took place. My anti-royal dad took himself off for the day whilst me, my mum and my 18-month-old sister sat and watched all the TV coverage.

As soon as the couple left St Paul's, we rushed down the road and had a street party with the rest of the neighbourhood.

As we lived in north London at the time, I do wonder why we never went to see the procession live, but we had a day at home that I will never forget. I still have a scrap book full of newspaper cuttings and souvenirs which I will save to show my children.
Ruth, UK

I remember the day well. I got up early to see it on television like millions of other people. I was 10-years-old.

To me it really looked like the fairytales we read as children
Ann, US
I remember how happy and radiant Diana looked... To me it really looked like the fairytales we read as children, where the beautiful Lady meets her Prince charming and they live happily ever after... Only theirs did not.
Ann, US

My family and I had a house party. We all groaned along with the world when we saw that creased dress, but we still toasted the happy couple and wished them well.

Sadly, many of the people I celebrated with are no longer with us and others now live all over the world, but i still remember the day with great fondness.
Bronwen O'Hara, England

In July 1981, I was on holiday in America with my mum and three brothers. We were staying in a motel in Dallas and got up very early in the morning, around 0300, to watch the Royal wedding.

We hung a large Union Jack in the window of our room and cheered the royal couple, commented on the dress and did all the things that we would have done, if we had been there!

Later during the day, everywhere we went, Americans asked us about it and it was clear that we weren't the only ones who had been up so early!
Jacqueline Rousseau, US

The French people of my own age (17) were totally not interested
Sue Andrews, UK
I was in France on the day, in Dole, on a foreign exchange holiday. My pen pal's mum had watched all the royal events, coronation, weddings etc. and we watched together on their TV.

The French people of my own age (17 at the time) were totally not interested. We came back on a coach two days later and drove through London, where we saw all the flags and bunting down The Mall - fabulous, but it all seems such a very long time ago now.
Sue Andrews, UK

I always liked Diana. Through good times and bad, she carried herself with grace and charm. She'll always be a princess.
Doug Moyers, US

I remember two things from this day - all of us waiting to see what Di's dress would be like, and the fact that we had delayed emigrating to Canada until the 1 August so we could see this wedding.
Veronica, Canada I was six years old and I remember my Mom getting up at 0500 hours in our home in Canada, to watch the wedding on CBC.

She was so excited, I got up too and sat in her lap while I watched a real-life fairy princess in her magical gown leave her carriage, walk across miles of red carpet and into the arms of her prince.

And when she died, I watched her funeral with my mom again, this time as a grown woman; and my tears were both for the unfairness she suffered, sadness for her two sons, and for the fact that fairy tales can't ever be true.
Carly, Canada

 E-mail this story to a friend

Charles and Diana on the Buckingham Palace balcony
The famous kiss: The newly-wed couple on the Buckingham Palace balcony

Charles and Diana in the open-topped state landau
The wedding was watched by an estimated global audience of 750m
Witness Stories

Search ON THIS DAY by date

^^ back to top
Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
©MMVIII | News Sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy