Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
It was perhaps the wedding of the century, with millions around the world watching as the British prince married his demure bride. The union of Charles and Diana soon unraveled, however, and the fairy tale ended forever when the princess was killed in a car crash 16 years later. An excerpt from The Post of July 30, 1981:
By Leonard Downie Jr.
Washington Post Foreign Service
LONDON, July 29 --
In a fairy-tale atmosphere made of pageantry, celebration and strong emotion, Charles, the prince of Wales and heir to the British throne, today married Lady Diana Spencer, now the princess of Wales.
Up to a million people, jubilant and peaceful, filled central London along the wedding procession route from Buckingham Palace to St. Paul's Cathedral to cheer the royal couple and the British heritage they represent. As Charles and Diana exchanged vows and the archbishop of Canterbury declared that "those whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder," the roars of the crowds listening outside on loudspeakers and radios could be heard throughout the hushed cathedral.
The 2,500 invited guests, including royalty, government leaders and diplomats from around the world, and the 750 million people thought to be watching on television in 50 countries were treated to an abundance of colorful ceremony, focusing on the 32-year-old prince, resplendent in full-dress naval commander's uniform, and his 20-year-old bride, radiant in snowy silken ruffles and lace, sequins and jewels, flouncy crinoline and a picturesque long train.
At the same time, the wedding also was the family occasion the royal couple and their families had wanted and the memorable musical and emotional experience Prince Charles had said he intended. Under the great dome of St. Paul's, with the stirring sounds of organ, trumpets, orchestra and choirs cascading round them, the bride and bridegroom and their immediate families participated in an almost private wedding, on one of the most public occasions in history. . . .
Charles and Diana, obviously nervous at times and mutually reassuring at others, displayed affection that was touchingly unusual in a public appearance of the royal family and contrasted to the glint of steel, beat of hooves and shield of security that characterized much of the day's festivities.
They looked at each other and held hands at times during the service, in the carriage procession afterwards, and during their traditional appearances on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Then, before leaving the balcony for the last time -- the most emotional moment for Britons on such occasions -- Charles kissed Diana's hands and then her lips as the vast crowd below cheered wildly.
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