Balcony kiss defining image of wedding day
Well-wishers outside the Palace called for the couple to show their affection.
Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding to the Prince of Wales was billed as a true life fairytale.
Amid pomp and circumstance, shy Lady Di married the heir to the throne in the grand St Paul’s Cathedral on July 29 1981, watched by a worldwide TV audience of more than 750 million.
Many camped out overnight on the streets of London – including the future prime minister, David Cameron, who was 14 at the time – to get the best vantage point on the route from Buckingham Palace to the Cathedral.
On the day, hundreds of thousands of well-wishers travelled to the capital to catch a glimpse of the future king and his young bride, the new Princess of Wales and a future queen.
Details of Diana’s wedding dress were kept a closely guarded secret and, when she arrived at St Paul’s, it drew gasps of admiration. Designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel had created an elaborately flowing silk taffeta gown with a train of memorable proportions.
The dress, with a deep, gently curved neckline and billowing sleeves, trimmed with bows and lace flounces, incorporated a boned and fitted bodice, featuring antique lace, and was hand-embroidered with sequins and pearls. The veil, of ivory silk tulle, was spangled with 10,000 mother-of-pearl sequins and held in place with the Spencer family diamond tiara.
During the ceremony, both the bride and groom displayed wedding nerves as they fluffed their vows in front of the 2,000 guests. Diana inverted the Prince’s names, calling him “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”.
Guests at the wedding ranged from British aristocrats to world figures, including Nancy Reagan, and friends including comedian Spike Milligan.
Waving and smiling, the newlyweds were driven to Buckingham Palace in a horse-drawn open carriage past an ecstatic crowd. The Queen was said to be so happy she did a little jig of excitement as she left the reception.
The defining image of the day was the balcony kiss. Well-wishers outside the Palace called for the couple to show their affection, but Charles said to Diana: “I am not going to do that caper. They are trying to get us to kiss.”
Diana said: “Well, how about it?” And, after a moment’s deliberation, Charles replied: “Why ever not?”
Casting royal protocol aside, and to the delight of the crowds, the newlyweds obliged. The next day’s newspaper headlines declared “Day of unbridled romance in a grey world”, “Sealed with a loving kiss” and “The kiss that says I love you”. Little did anyone foresee that this royal union was not one that would last.