Prince Charles and Lady Diana marry in glorious splendor

Prince Charles and Lady Diana marry in glorious splendor
In the year's big happy story, the Prince and Princess of Wales kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding at St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981. The heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, married the Lady Diana Spencer to the delight of millions. (UPI Photo/Files) | License Photo

Charles looked a bit nervous. Diana was a jewel encased in a swirl of ivory silk taffeta and lace embroidered with sequins and pearls with a gently curved neckline enhanced by a wide frill.

Beneath her crowning touch -- the Spencer family tiara -- billowed a voluminous veil that covered her face but did not hide the delighted smile that came with Charles' promise to love and honor -- they dropped the word 'obey.'


She was still stealing glances when the archbishop asked her to make the same vow. A moment later she got the order of the prince's four names wrong. She said 'I, Diana Frances, take thee Philip Charles Arthur George to my wedded husband' instead of Charles Philip Arthur George.

Charles obliged by forgetting the word 'worldly' in 'and all my wordly goods with thee I share.'

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Charles had predicted the great music he had chosen for the choir, the orchestra and Maori opera star Kiri te Kanawa, would bring tears to his eyes and at one point he did brush his eye with his finger. But the lovely smile of his bride was too infectious for tears. As she and Charles left the church there were answering smiles from Nancy Reagan, wife of President Reagan, and everyone else.


Even Queen Elizabeth, generally solemn on state occasions, closely studied her son and his new bride on their way up the aisle and finally managed an approving smile.

One of the best days of a dreary summer blessed the wedding despite predictions of rain. The royal party starting from Buckingham Palace traveled to and from the cathedral in carriage processions escorted by mounted police and the spectacular Household Cavalry in their burnished breastplates and plumed helmets.

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Lady Diana spent the night at royal Clarence House and rode inthe famous Glass Coach, so she could be better seen, with her father, Earl Spencer, 57, who is still recovering from a stroke and had to be helped up the steps of the church.

For the return trip to the palace through canyons of banners and floral decorations, the new Princess of Wales, third lady of the land behind the Queen and Queen Mother Elizabeth, joined her husband in his open state landau.

They were cheered thunderously from the moment they appeared in the portico of the church all along the historic route -- Fleet Street, the Strand, Trafalgar Square and the red-paved royal boulevard, the Mall -- to their four balcony appearances at the palace.


With the safety of the royal family and dozens of heads of state, prime ministers, crown princes and princesses and diplomats in their hands, police took the most intensive security precautions ever seen in Britain.

Marksmen dotted rooftops and even glided above the crowd in a blimp. Police stationed 12 feet apart lined the wedding route. More plainclothes police mingled with the crowds.

Anti-terrorist experts from Northern Ireland and from the crack SAS regiment were on hand.

Sniffer dogs went into sewers and into the church in search of explosives. Every building on the wedding route and every person in it had to be cleared.

For all these precautions, there was only one arrest -- for pickpocketing.

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