LONDON -- The most spectacular fireworks display in Britain in more than 230 years sprayed the skies over London red-white-and blue Tuesday night in a stunning prelude to the marriage of the Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.
Cannon boomed, hundreds of musicians played, choirs sang and tons of fireworks painted the skies over Hyde Park where wedding revellers gathered in their hundreds of thousands on a humid night.
Not since the celebrations for the end of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1749 for which Handel wrote his 'Royal Fireworks Music' had Britain seen such pyrotechnics.
Prince Charles himself initiated the proceedings by torching the first of a chain of 101 giant bonfires stretching from the shores of southern England to the farthest north of Scotland.
It was a touch that harked back to medieval times when bonfire chains were lit across the kingdom to alert the people to news of great importance.
The marriage of the prince of wales to the woman who one day will be queen of England was only a few hours away.
The royal family were there in strength, but not Lady Diana, she was by her own admission tucked up in bed, 'having an early night' before the big day.
Centerpiece of the Hyde Park display was a firework Palace 300 feet long and 40 feet tall and hung with huge portraits 65 feet across of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.
Above it spun a fire-spitting Catherine wheel 65 feet across in a finale that consumed 12,000 fireworks.
Other set-piece patterns included the crests and badges of regiments connected with the Prince of wales.
The whole display was synchronised to music played by the massed bands of the guards and Household cavalry.