On this day in history : 24th February 1981 – After months of speculation the engagement of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer is officially announced by Buckingham Palace….
The couple had first met in 1977 – when Prince Charles was dating Lady Diana’s elder sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale. In 1980 Charles and Diana met again at a country weekend – where she watched him play polo…. He then invited her for a weekend of sailing at Cowes, on board the Royal Yacht Britannia – and this was followed by an invitation to Balmoral Castle, to ‘meet the family’…. Lady Diana was received by the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen Mother….
It was six months later, on the 3rd of February 1981, that Prince Charles proposed – at a private dinner at Windsor Castle…. Diana was about to go on a holiday to Australia and Charles suggested that she use that time to consider his proposal – but she didn’t need to – she accepted straight away…. The couple kept their engagement secret for three weeks….
The announcement came at 11 am on the 24th of February…. “It is with great pleasure that the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh announce the betrothal of their beloved son the Prince of Wales to the Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of the Earl Spencer and the Honourable Mrs Shand Kidd” – Lord Maclean, Lord Chancellor….
Lady Diana’s £30,000 engagement ring, set in 18-carat gold, held a 12-carat, oval, blue Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds…. Prince Charles said of his fiancée that he was “delighted and frankly amazed that Diana is prepared to take me on”….
19-year-old Diana moved out of her shared flat in Kensington to live at Clarence House until the wedding…. She also gave up her job as a kindergarten teacher….
They married on the 29th of July 1981….it was declared a national holiday. Two nights before the wedding a gala ball was held at Buckingham Palace, with dinner for 90 hosted by the Queen and a reception with dancing for 1,500 guests – including royal household members and staff…. On the eve of the wedding 150 heads of state and government were invited to dine with the Queen….
The wedding took place in St. Paul’s Cathedral…. 3,500 guests watched Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer – in a dress of ivory silk-taffeta and antique lace with a 25m train, designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel- exchange their vows…. It is estimated 750 million people around the World watched on TV….