Every young girl dreams of marrying a prince and on July 29th 1981, one shy 20-year old from an aristocratic but dysfunctional family was given a chance to prove this dream was unsustainable. When Lady Diana Spencer wed Charles, Prince of Wales in the Westminster Abbey, 100 million people tuned in for the ceremony dubbed by the media as ‘a fairy-tale wedding’.
During the ceremony, Diana fumbled her husband’s name and refused to say the word “obey,” in what was perhaps a harbinger for the ensuring marriage that could only be described as awkward. Charles forgot to kiss Diana after the vows, and when they returned to the Buckingham Palace, the royal couple emerged on the balcony to give the crowds the kiss they had been longing to see (before disappearing for the official wedding photos session by Lord Snowden, royal breakfast and honeymoon). As the Guardian later reflected, “Diana’s strangely awkward wedding kiss, with a seemingly ill-at-ease Charles, turned out to be more telling of their future relationship than the smile and excitement of Diana the blushing bride.” Neither the history’s most impulsive nor its most passionate kiss, the photo was to become the iconic image of the day.
Before he chose Diana, Charles had been rejected by three women (Lady Jane Wellesley, Amanda Knatchbull and Anna Wallace), while he remained devoted to an married woman (Camilla Parker-Bowles). Both Charles and Diana found it hard to abandon their pre-conjugal lifestyles: for Charles, it was adventurous sportsmanship, and for Diana, it was the carefree spirit of her teen years.
The birth of two children didn’t mellow the couple; a series of domestic and international embarrassments (a tell-tale book, “Squidgy”, Taj Mahal incident, the spurned polo kiss) were only to be coupled by their respective adulteries. Finally in 1992 came much-speculated separation. The rest, as they say, was history.