How to watch Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding ceremony in full

The royal couple married in a traditional Church of England service in 1981

Sarah Young
Thursday 29 July 2021 09:12

It has been 40 years since Prince Charles and Princess Diana tied the knot in a wedding ceremony on 29 July 1981 that was watched by around 750 million people around the globe.

To mark the occasion, a slice of the couple’s wedding cake, which has been preserved in cling film, is set to be auctioned next month.

Charles and Diana’s marriage and subsequent divorce is one of the most talked-about royal relationships of all time.

The couple’s courtship has been memorialised in The Crown, which charts pivotal moments in their relationship, from their first meeting to the day they said, “I do”.

If you, like so many others, found yourself cheated out of a royal wedding repeat, all is not lost as you can still watch real footage from Charles and Diana’s ceremony.

From when it happened, to why it wasn’t shown in The Crown and how to watch the wedding day in full, here is everything you need to know.

When and where did Charles and Diana get married?

Charles and Diana got married in a traditional Church of England wedding service on 29 July 1981 at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, Alan Webster, presided at the service, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, conducted the marriage.

The wedding took place just five months after their engagement was officially announced. Diana claimed to have only seen Charles 13 times between the start of their relationship and their wedding day.

Was the wedding broadcast on TV at the time?

The couple’s ceremony was shown on BBC and ITV. According to the BBC, the ceremony was watched by a global audience of 750 million people in 74 countries, with 28.4 million tuning in from the UK alone.

The BBC pulled out all the stops to ensure the widest possible audience on the day. Television coverage of the 11am ceremony began at 7.45am, presented by Angela Rippon and Peter Woods. Commentary on the carriage processions and marriage service was given by Tom Fleming and simultaneous coverage on BBC Two provided live subtitles for hearing impaired viewers.

The couple's ceremony remains the most watched royal wedding of all time, with 24 million Brits tuning in to watch Prince William marry Kate Middleton in 2011 and 18 million watching Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle in 2018.

The nuptials also drew crowds of about 600,000 to the streets surrounding St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Can you still watch footage of the ceremony?

Yes. While the BBC has collated its coverage of the day into a 3.5 minute-long film which can be viewed here, it is possible to watch the entire proceedings in full.

In 2017, the Associated Press (AP) released newly restored footage of Charles and Diana’s wedding day which has since been posted on YouTube in 4K.

The 25 minutes of video features original commentary and was acquired from British Movietone, which was the only organisation to capture the wedding on “high-quality 35 mm film.”

“The restored 4K film is simply stunning and a world away from the 1980s videotape versions that we’re familiar with,” said Alwyn Lindsey, AP’s vice president of sales for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

The AP has split the footage into three videos on YouTube, Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.  

In addition, it has created a playlist of clips showing everything from the ceremony inside St. Paul's Cathedral to the crowd at Buckingham Palace and the couple’s first kiss on the royal balcony.

Why wasn’t the wedding shown in The Crown?

Despite a teaser trailer of the fourth season showing viewers a clip of Corrin wearing a recreation of Diana’s wedding gown, the couple’s wedding ceremony was not featured.

Instead, the show’s creators included scenes of the royal family getting ready at Buckingham Palace while a voiceover of a priest making the sermon is heard. Charles (played by Josh O’Connor) is shown sharing a troubled glance at his mother Queen Elizabeth II (played by Olivia Colman), while Diana is seen wearing her now iconic wedding dress as she prepares to leave the palace.

Following criticisms from fans of the show who were expecting to see the wedding recreated, stars of The Crown have defended show creator Peter Morgan’s choice not to do so.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, O’Connor said The Crown aims to show viewers each member of the royal family as they really are, rather than their public images, which is what Charles and Diana were required to display on the day of their wedding.

“Peter Morgan isn't interested in showing you the wedding because you just go on YouTube and you can watch it,” O’Connor said.

“But what's more interesting, because Charles and Diana have to be a certain way on their wedding day, you don't see the nuance; whereas when it's behind closed doors, [like] the rehearsal, we have more license to create and fictionalise.”

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