Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer's wedding

Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer's wedding
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'What a dream she looks ... there is a bride that any man would be happy to see coming down the aisle towards him', says commentator Angela Rippon as an estimated 750 million people watched Lady Diana Spencer stepping out of a glass coach at St Paul's Cathedral, London.

It was Wednesday 29 July 1981 and people all around the world stopped to watch the wedding between Diana and Prince Charles unfold in all its pageantry. Everything runs like clockwork - the wedding procession, adoring crowds, as well as the BBC's commentary and the multitude of carefully planned camera angles revealing both small details and the scale and grandeur of St Paul's Cathedral.

The music, 'Prince of Denmark's March' or 'Trumpet Voluntary' by Jeremiah Clarke, creates a joyful atmosphere as details are slowly revealed: Diana's dress, veil and tiara; her shy smiles as she walks holding the arm of her father, the Earl of Spencer. Watching as a child at the time it all appeared like a dream and today it still elicits goosebumps. Diana became the iconic princess of the 1980s and the wedding was one of the most popular programs ever broadcast. The whole wedding spectacular gave Australians a taste of the grandeur of the British Royal Family.

It's impossible now to watch this footage of 20-year-old Diana smiling and laughing without thinking of the couple's separation in 1992 and Diana's tragic death in 1997 in Paris. Commentator Tom Fleming ironically (in hindsight) describes her procession down the aisle through the congregation of 3,500 people, as the 'longest and happiest walk she will ever take'.

Diana, her bridesmaids and flower girls look like every little princess's dream. Her dress is made of ivory silk taffeta, decorated with lace, hand embroidery, sequins and 10,000 pearls, with an 8-metre train, designed by Elizabeth and David Emanuel. Flouting tradition she kept her veil on throughout the ceremony, topped with a Spencer family heirloom tiara. The full skirt accentuated the tiny waist of the bodice. Big sleeves with lace flounces at the elbow were a very 1980s take on the classic princess look.

Looking on are Charles, Prince of Wales in the full dress uniform of a naval commander, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and the Queen Mother. 

Charles was officially proclaimed King, becoming King Charles III, after the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022.

This footage was from an Eyewitness News tape English Library Reel no. 0385 and comes from the BBC's feed, complete with commentary.  

Notes by Beth Taylor