Weddings

The over-the-top elements of Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ Wedding

When big is not necessarily better - we take a trip down memory lane.
Loading the player...

Weddings today are a lot more of a reflection of the bride and the groom than weddings of yesteryear. Couples can go as intimate and informal as they like or as big and showy as they can afford.

For many, the pomp and ceremony of a wedding can feel overwhelming and we wonder what sort of nuptials Princess Diana and Prince Charles would have opted for if their 1981 wedding wasn’t the most highly anticipated event of the decade. Here are some of the over-the-top elements they had to contend with on the day:

Their wedding was watched by millions

The congregation numbered 3500 and the wedding was broadcast in 74 countries and watched by 750 million people worldwide. That was a lot of witnesses to getting her groom’s name wrong (Diana mixed up the order of Charles’ name during the vows, calling him Philip Charles Arthur George).

Charles also stumbled on his words, referring to “thy goods” instead of “my worldly goods.”

The bouquet was enormous

Princess Diana’s bouquet, which was made up of a cascade of gardenias, stephanotis, orchids, Lily of the Valley, Earl Mountbatten Roses, freesias, veronica, ivy, myrtle and trasdescantia, reportedly weighed just under three kilograms.

And Princess Diana had to carry it a long way…

The walk down the aisle took three and a half minutes. Three and a half minutes! That’s a long walk to take with literally all eyes on you (and 750 million pairs of eyes at that) in a very big dress that you’re not used to wearing and with a very big bouquet.

Loading the player...

There were 27 wedding cakes

… With the official five-tiered fruit cake provided by David Avery, the head baker at the Royal Naval cooking school. Diana and Charles’ wedding cakes were not the most ostentatious among the royals though. Royal wedding cakes have always been lavish, tall and talked about.

In 1840, one of the cakes that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert served at their wedding had a diameter of 2.7 metres and weighed more than 136kg. In 1923, the wedding cake for the future King George VI was 2.7 metres high and weighed 362kg.

Diana’s dress had the longest train in history

Not only were the layers of taffeta and silk adorned with more than 10,000 pearls and sequins, but its train was 7.6 metres long, making the dress cumbersome to move in and difficult to cram into the carriage for her ride to the ceremony.

The tiara gave Princess Diana headaches

Diana reputedly found the weight of her diamond and pearl Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara so heavy that it gave her headaches. The tiara – one of the most celebrated in the royal collection – was given to her as a wedding present from the Queen in 1981 and Kate Middleton has since worn it to a reception for foreign diplomats in Buckingham Palace.

Related stories


Get your favourite magazines home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 38% on a magazine subscription.