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 a 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 several dates in London. Six months later, in February 1981, the prince proposed  and Diana accepted.  Personal accounts would say 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.


  • started dating Prince Charles summer 1980
  • engagement announced February 24, 1981

Wedding of the centuryMarriage
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.

ABC News Classics Royal Wedding: Prince Charles and Lady Diana


  • Married Prince Charles on July 29, 1981
  • St. Paul's Cathedral was chosen over Westminster Abbey because of its size
  • At the altar Diana accidentally reversed the order of Charles's names, saying Philip Charles Arthur George instead
  • Diana did not use the word "obey" in her vows, which caused a sensation at the time.
  • Their wedding has been called the "Wedding of the Century"
                  << Previous Page: Adult Life                                          Next Page: William & Harry  >>

------------------  Princess Diana's Biography  ------------------
 Early Years | Education | Adult Life | Courtship & Marriage | William & Harry | Affairs & Divorce | Charities | Death
Back to British Royals | Royal Biographies | Princess Diana's News Archives