Diana: An English Rose

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As I took my £30 press seat for the “Wedding of the Century” I considered the day a yardstick event of my life. Like the moon landing. But cruel fate would make a later procession – in which Diana was again central – even more epoch-making. Still, I will never forget that sunny day in June 1981. London was a rainbow of bunting. Heart-stopping was Diana’s slow walk up the aisle. Endearing was the bride who muffed her vows and almost married “Philip Charles Arthur George”. It seemed there would be a happy ending for what the Archbishop of Canterbury called “the stuff of which fairy tales are made.”

About 750 million people watched as, for the first time in living memory, a Prince and Princess of Wales wed. Charles Spencer saw his mothering sister Diana transformed: “It was the first time in my life I ever thought of Diana as beautiful,” he told Andrew Morton. “She really did look stunning that day . . . although she was slightly pale.” In the royal pew, the Queen Mother dabbed her eyes. Purchase this book

(Above) The choice of bridesmaids and pages fell on sons and daughters of relatives and friends of Prince Charles. Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, right, was one of the bridesmaids.  (Top) 29 July 1981. The wedding of The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. The newlyweds are pictured as the royal carriage takes them back to Buckingham Palace following the wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

(Above) The choice of bridesmaids and pages fell on sons and daughters of relatives and friends of Prince Charles. Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones, right, was one of the bridesmaids. (Top) 29 July 1981. The wedding of The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. The newlyweds are pictured as the royal carriage takes them back to Buckingham Palace following the wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

“You look lovely,” Prince Charles whispered as they knelt. “Lovely for you,” replied Diana. It was a wonder Diana looked so heavenly. Billeted on The Mall side of Clarence House, Diana was assailed all night by the crowd’s revelry and had barely slept. Her bulimia was in full force. She had raided the Queen Mother’s kitchen, eaten everything and made herself “sick as a parrot”. Concerned next morning that altar microphones might pick up the rumbling of her stomach, she for once ate breakfast.

In her bath tub, she contemplated what she would later call “the most emotionally confusing day of my life”. Her sisters had laughed at her qualms the day before: “Your face is on the tea towels, Duch, so it’s too late to chicken out now.” Indeed, the wedding presents heaped like an Aladdin’s trove at Buckingham Palace would have been a political nightmare to return. From Saudi Arabia alone came £75,000 worth of diamonds and sapphires. “Gosh, I’m becoming a very rich lady,” she had exclaimed.

One of the most iconic kisses in 20th century history as the newlywed Prince and Princess of Wales kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

One of the most iconic kisses in 20th century history as the newlywed Prince and Princess of Wales kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

Resolutely on her wedding morning, Diana turned on the television, watched children waving flags and marvelled that the hysteria gripping the world was about her. She told her make-up artist Barbara Daly “This is an amazingly big fuss for the wedding of one girl.” Charles was jolted awake by a hubbub he called “indescribable.” From dawn, when The Mall’s great gypsy camp had found its singing voice, Buckingham Palace had been under vocal siege. Royal relatives who packed the Palace had been lullabied the previous night and “Rule Britannia” was too much for Charles. “I found myself standing in the window with tears pouring down my face,” he said. (Extract from ‘Diana: An English Rose’ published by Leppi Publications. ISBN 095216441. Available in hardback and limited edition leather-bound.)  Purchase leather-bound edition of this book at 70% discount