These days, there have been a lot of remakes and sequels from the ’80s. The Karate Kid, The A-Team, Tron, and Wall Street. So why not “The Wedding of the Century”? Sure, I think there’s some kind of wedding tomorrow, that is bringing back memories from 30(!) years ago. But, for us, the REAL “Wedding of the Century” occurred on July 29, 1981 Lady Diana Frances Spencer married Charles, Prince of Wales at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Make no mistake, if it was not for Diana, this would have just been a footnote in England’s history.
Instead, the wedding was watched by 750 million people worldwide. There were 3,500 people in the congregation at St. Paul’s Cathedral. There were 2 million spectators lined along the route of Diana’s procession from Clarence House, with 4,000 police and 2,200 military officers to manage the crowds.
Diana arrived at St. Paul’s Cathedral in a glass coach, escorted by five mounted military police officers. The carriage was too small to comfortably hold Diana’s father and Diana in her dress and train.
After the ceremony, the couple went to Buckingham palace for a small dinner for 120. Appearing on a balcony, Diana and Charles pleased the crowd by kissing.
However, the “fairy-tale” couple grew apart – especially under the scrutiny of the tabloids. Diana and Charles announced a separation in 1992, though they continued to carry out their royal duties. In August 1996, the couple officially divorced. In exchange for a generous settlement, and the right to retain her apartments at Kensington Palace and her title of “princess,” Diana agreed to relinquish the title of “Her Royal Highness” and any future claims to the British throne.
But, the popularity of Diana still soared, and she was considered “a queen in people’s hearts.” Then, tragically, on August 31, 1997, she was killed with her companion Dodi Fayed in a car accident in Paris. Tests conducted by French police indicated that the driver, who also died in the crash, was intoxicated and likely caused the accident while trying to escape the paparazzi photographers who consistently tailed Diana during any public outing.
To this day, people from all over the world believe, as well as Dodi Fayed’s father, believe that Queen Elizabeth was involved with Diana’s death in some way.
On April 9, 2005, Prince Charles wed his longtime mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, in a private civil ceremony. After the civil ceremony, which the queen did not attend, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams blessed the union on behalf of the Church of England in a separate blessing ceremony. An estimated 750 guests attended the event (a long way from 3,500!), which was held at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor and was attended by both of Charles parents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
Though Camilla technically became the Princess of Wales with the marriage, she has announced her preference for the title Duchess of Cornwall, in deference to the beloved late princess. Should Charles become king, she will become Queen Camilla, though she has already announced her intention to use the title Princess Consort, most likely in response to public opinion polls showing resistance to the idea of a “Queen Camilla.”