Princess Diana: Courtship & Marriage
Courtship with Prince Charles
"Whatever love means" (Prince Charles)
Prince Charles had
known Diana for several years, but he first took
serious interest in her as a potential bride during the summer of 1980
when they were guests at a country weekend, while she watched him play
polo. The relationship developed as he invited her for a sailing
weekend to Cowes, aboard the royal yacht Britannia, followed by an
invitation to Balmoral Castle, the Windsor family's Scottish home.
Diana was well received at Balmoral by the Queen,
Prince Philip, and the Queen Mother. The couple then had
dates in London. Six months later, in February 1981, the prince
proposed and Diana accepted. Personal accounts
she was genuinely and desperately in love with the prince.
Their engagement became official on the February 24, 1981, after Diana selected a large £30,000 ring from a platter. The couple then faced the press to announce their engagement.
When asked if they were marrying for love, Diana replied, "Of course." "Whatever love means," added the prince.
Wedding of the century
Diana married Prince Charles in St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981. She was 20; he was 32. Diana was the first British citizen to marry an heir to the British throne in 300 years.
Officiants of the traditional Church of England service wedding included the Archbishop of Canterbury and 25 other clerics.
There were 3,500 people in the congregation at St. Paul's Cathedral. Two million spectators lined the procession from Clarence House. Another 750 million people watched the ceremony worldwide.
Diana's wore a puff ball meringue wedding dress, with huge puffed sleeves and a frilly neckline. The dress was made of silk taffeta, decorated with lace, hand embroidery, sequins, and 10,000 pearls. It had a 25-foot train. Charles wore his full dress naval commander uniform.
After the ceremony, Charles and Diana delighted the crowd with the popular kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. They later proceeded with a dinner for 120 people.