The Prince of Wales, who had known Lady Diana Spencer for several years, took a serious interest in her as a potential bride during the summer of 1980, when they were guests at a country weekend, where 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, to meet his family. Diana was well received at Balmoral by The Queen, Prince Philip, and the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The couple then had several dates in London. Diana and Charles had been seeing each other for about six months when he proposed on 3 February 1981 at a dinner for two at Buckingham Palace. He knew she planned a holiday for the next week, and hoped she would use the time to consider her answer. Diana accepted, but their engagement was kept secret for the next few weeks.
Their engagement became official on 24 February 1981, after Diana selected a large £30,000 ring consisting of 14 diamonds surrounding a blue sapphire which was previously gifted to Elizabeth II by the president of Sri Lanka, J. R. Jayewardene. Diana's first son, Prince William of Wales, gave Diana's ring to Kate Middleton as an engagement ring. Many copies of the ring have been made in both well-established jewellery shops and high-street fashion chains.
There were 3,500 people in the congregation at St Paul's Cathedral. It was held at St Paul's rather than Westminster Abbey because St Paul's offered more seating and permits a longer procession through the streets of London. The service was a traditional Church of England wedding service, presided over by the Most Reverend Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Very Reverend Alan Webster, the Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral. Some say 750 million people watched the ceremony worldwide, and this figure allegedly rose to a billion when the radio audience is added in, however, there are no means of verifying these figures. Two million spectators lined the route of Diana's procession from Clarence House, with 4,000 police and 2,200 military officers to manage the crowds.
Lady Diana arrived at the cathedral in the Glass Coach with her father, John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer, escorted by six mounted metropolitan police officers. She arrived almost on time for the 11:20 BST ceremony. The carriage was too small to comfortably hold the two of them in her dress and train. She made the three-and-a-half minute walk up the red-carpeted aisle with the sumptuous 25 ft (8 m) train of gown behind her.
During the vows Diana accidentally reversed the order of Charles's names, saying Philip Charles Arthur George instead. She did not promise to "obey" him; that traditional vow was left out at the couple's request, which caused a sensation at the time.
Other church representatives present, who gave prayers following the service, were the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Donald Coggan, Cardinal Basil Hume, the Right Reverend Andrew Doig and the Reverend Harry Williams CR. The directors and conductors of the music for the occasion included Sir David Willcocks, Christopher Dearnley, Barry Rose, Richard Popplewell and Sir Colin Davis.
Main article: Wedding dress of Lady Diana SpencerDiana's wedding dress, valued at £9000 (£25,713 as of 2011), was 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 was designed by Elizabeth and David Emanuel and had a 25-foot train of ivory taffeta and antique lace. Charles wore his full dress naval commander uniform.
They had seven bridal attendants:
- Lord Nicholas Windsor (aged 11) (son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent)
- Edward van Cutsem (aged 8) (both godsons of the Prince of Wales)
- Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (age 17), the Earl of Snowdon and Princess Margaret's daughter
- India Hicks (aged 13) granddaughter of the Earl Mountbatten of Burma and daughter of David and Lady Pamela Hicks
- Catherine Cameron (aged 6), daughter of Donald
- Lady Cecil Cameron, granddaughter of the Marquess of Lothian; Sarah-Jane Gaselee (aged 11), daughter of Nick Gaselee and his wife
- Clementine Hambro (aged 5), daughter of Rupert Hambro and the Hon Mrs Hambro (now The Countess Peel), granddaughter of Lord and Lady Soames
- great-granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill.
- HRH The Prince Andrew (aged 21) and HRH The Prince Edward (aged 17) were the Prince of Wales' supporters (the equivalent of "best man" for a royal wedding).
After the ceremony, the couple went to Buckingham Palace for a dinner for 120. Appearing on a balcony at 1310 BST, Diana and Charles kissed for the crowd below.
The couple had 27 wedding cakes with the official wedding cake being supplied by the Naval Armed Forces. David Avery, the head baker at the Royal Naval cooking school, in chatham Kent, made the cake. It took 14 weeks, and the bottom layer took 12 hours to bake. They made 2 identical cakes, just in case one was damaged in transit. The cake was undamaged and the standby cake was distributed amongst the naval cookery trainees. Each got 2 pieces, one for the trainee and one for their mother. Avery never ate a final slice of cake, although he did sample as he was making the cake. Amongst the other suppliers of the cake was Classic Celebration Cakes in Cheshire who have also been involved in supplying wedding cakes for the last five official royal weddings. The couple's other wedding cake was created by Belgian pastry chef S. G. Sender, who was known as the "cakemaker to the kings".
Afterwards they enjoyed toasts and a wedding breakfast with 120 family guests. A "just married" sign attached to the landau by Princes Andrew and Edward raised smiles as the married couple were driven over Westminster Bridge to get the train from Waterloo Station to Romsey in Hampshire to begin their honeymoon.
- TH The Aga Khan IV and Begum Salimah (Aga Khan IV and Princess Salimah Aga Khan)
- TGDH Prince Ludwig and Princess Marianne of Baden (Ludwig, first cousin of prince Charles, husband of princess Marianne Von Auersperg, the son of Berthold, Margrave of Baden and Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark aunt of prince Charles as sister of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh)
- TM The King and Queen of the Belgians (Baudouin of Belgium and Fabiola of Belgium)
- TM The King & Queen of the Bulgarians (in exile - Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Margarita Gómez-Acebo y Cejuela)
- HM The Queen & HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark (Margrethe II of Denmark and Henrik, Prince Consort of Denmark)
- HH Prince Georg of Denmark (Prince George Valdemar of Denmark)
- HM The King of the Hellenes (in exile - Constantine II of Greece, second cousin of prince Charles)
- TRH Prince Georg Wilhelm and Princess Sofia of Hanover (Prince George William of Hanover and Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark, aunt of prince Charles as sister of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh)
- TH Prince Karl and Princess Yvonne of Hesse (Karl, first cousin of prince Charles, husband of countess Yvonne Szapáry, the son of Prince Christoph of Hesse and Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark aunt of prince Charles as sister of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh)
- HH Princess Christina of Hesse and Mr. Robert van Eyck (Christina, first cousin of prince Charles, the daughter of Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark aunt of Prince Charles as sister of The Duke of Edinburgh)
- HH Princess Dorothea of Hesse and HSH Prince Friedrich Karl zu Windisch-Grätz (Dorothea, first cousin of prince Charles, wife of prince Friedrich Karl zu Windisch-Grätz, the daughter of Prince Christoph of Hesse and Princess Sophie of Greece and Denmark aunt of Prince Charles as sister of The Duke of Edinburgh)
- HSH Princess Marina zu Windisch-Grätz
- HRH The Princess of Hesse and by Rhine
- TSH Prince Kraft and Princess Charlotte zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg (Kraft, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg)
- TSH Prince Andreas and Princess Luise zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg
- TSH Prince Albrecht and Princess Maria-Hildegard zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg
- HSH Princess Beatrix zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg
- TIH The Crown Prince & Crown Princess of Japan (Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko)
- TRH The Crown Prince & Crown Princess of Jordan (Prince Hassan of Jordan and Princess Sarvath El Hassan)
- HM The Queen Mother of Lesotho (mother of Moshoshoe II)
- TSH The Prince & Princess of Liechtenstein (Franz Joseph II, Prince of Liechtenstein and Countess Georgina von Wilczek)
- TRH The Grand Duke & Grand Duchess of Luxembourg (Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium)
- HSH The Princess of Monaco (Grace Kelly)
- HSH The Hereditary Prince of Monaco (Albert II, Prince of Monaco)
- TRH Prince Gyanendra & Princess Komal of Nepal (Gyanendra of Nepal and Queen Komal of Nepal)
- HM The Queen & HRH Prince Claus of the Netherlands (Beatrix of the Netherlands and Prince Claus of the Netherlands)
- HM The King of Norway (Olav V of Norway)
- TM The King & Queen of Romania (in exile - Michael of Romania and Queen Anne of Romania)
- TM The King & Queen of Sweden (Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Silvia of Sweden)
- Princess Margaretha & Mr John Ambler (Princess Margaretha, Mrs. Ambler)
- HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand (Sirindhorn)
- TM The King & Queen of Tonga (Taufa'ahau Tupou IV)
- HH The Malietoa of Western Samoa (Malietoa Tanumafili II)
- HRH The Crown Prince of Yugoslavia (in exile - Alexander, Crown Prince of Yugoslavia)
- TRH Prince Tomislav and Princess Margarita of Yugoslavia (Prince Tomislav of Yugoslavia and Princess Margarita of Baden)
- HRH Prince Nikola of Yugoslavia (Prince Nikola of Yugoslavia)
- HRH Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia (daughter of Prince Tomislav of Yugoslavia)
- HRH Prince Hristifor of Yugoslavia (son of Prince Andrew of Yugoslavia)
- HRH Princess Marija Tatjana of Yugoslavia (daughter of Prince Andrew of Yugoslavia)
- HRH Princess Olga of Yugoslavia (Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark - widow of Prince Paul of Yugoslavia)
- TRH Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia and his second wife Princess Barbara of Liechtenstein
- HRH Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia
- HRH Bisi Ezekoye
The couple left from Waterloo station in the Royal Train travelling to Broadlands, where Prince Charles' parents had spent their wedding night. They then flew to Gibraltar, where they boarded the Royal Yacht Britannia for an 11 day cruise of the Mediteranean, visiting Tunisia, Sardinia, Greece and Egypt. They then flew to Scotland, where the rest of the royal family had gathered at Balmoral Castle, and spent time in a hunting lodge on the estate, during which time the press were given an arranged opportunity to take pictures.