Prince Charles marries Lady Diana - HISTORY
Year
1981

Prince Charles marries Lady Diana

Nearly one billion television viewers in 74 countries tune in to witness the marriage of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, to Lady Diana Spencer, a young English schoolteacher. Married in a grand ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral in the presence of 2,650 guests, the couple’s romance was for the moment the envy of the world. Their first child, Prince William, was born in 1982, and their second, Prince Harry, in 1984.

Before long, however, the fairy-tale couple grew apart, an experience that was particularly painful under the ubiquitous eyes of the world’s tabloid media. Diana and Charles announced a separation in 1992, though they continued to carry out their royal duties. In August 1996, two months after Queen Elizabeth II urged the couple to divorce, the prince and princess reached a final agreement. In exchange for a generous settlement, and the right to retain her apartments at Kensington Palace and her title of “princess,” Diana agreed to relinquish the title of “Her Royal Highness” and any future claims to the British throne.

In the year following the divorce, the popular princess seemed well on her way of achieving her dream of becoming “a queen in people’s hearts,” but on August 31, 1997, she was killed with her companion Dodi Fayed in a car accident in Paris. Tests conducted by French police indicated that the driver, who also died in the crash, was intoxicated and likely caused the accident while trying to escape the paparazzi photographers who consistently tailed Diana during any public outing.

On April 9, 2005, Prince Charles wed his longtime mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, in a private civil ceremony. The ceremony had originally been planned for April 8, but had to be rescheduled so as not to conflict with the funeral of Pope John Paul II. After the civil ceremony, which the queen did not attend, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams blessed the union on behalf of the Church of England in a separate blessing ceremony. An estimated 750 guests attended the event, which was held at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor and was attended by both of Charles’ parents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Though Camilla technically became the Princess of Wales with the marriage, she has announced her preference for the title Duchess of Cornwall, in deference to the beloved late princess. Should Charles become king, she will become Queen Camilla, though she has already announced her intention to use the title Princess Consort, most likely in response to public opinion polls showing resistance to the idea of a Queen Camilla.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Tipperary Revolt ends in failure

At the height of the Potato Famine in Ireland, an abortive nationalist revolt against English rule is crushed by a government police detachment in Tipperary. In a brief skirmish in a cabbage patch, Irish nationalists under William Smith O’Brien were overcome and arrested. The ...read more

Spanish Armada defeated

Off the coast of Gravelines, France, Spain’s so-called “Invincible Armada” is defeated by an English naval force under the command of Lord Charles Howard and Sir Francis Drake. After eight hours of furious fighting, a change in wind direction prompted the Spanish to break off ...read more

General Motors buys Cadillac

On July 29, 1909, the newly formed General Motors Corporation (GM) acquires the country’s leading luxury automaker, the Cadillac Automobile Company, for $4.5 million. Cadillac was founded out of the ruins of automotive pioneer Henry Ford’s second failed company (his third effort, ...read more

NASA created

On this day in 1958, the U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a civilian agency responsible for coordinating America’s activities in space. NASA has since sponsored space expeditions, both human and mechanical, ...read more

Fire ravages U.S. carrier off Vietnam

Fire sweeps the U.S. aircraft carrier Forrestal off the coast of North Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin. It was the worst U.S. naval disaster in a combat zone since World War II. The accident took the lives of 134 crewmen and injured 62 more. Of the carrier’s 80 planes, 21 were ...read more

Escalante and Dominguez begin expedition

Silvestre de Escalante and Francisco Dominguez, two Spanish Franciscan priests, leave Santa Fe for an epic journey through the Southwest.Escalante and Dominguez hoped to blaze a trail from New Mexico to Monterey, California, but their main goal was to visit with the native ...read more

Chang-Rae Lee’s birthday

Award-winning writer Chang-Rae Lee is born on this day in Seoul, South Korea.Lee’s father, a doctor, moved to the United States to finish his training and brought his family over when Chang-Rae was three. The family lived first in Pittsburgh, then in suburban New York. Lee’s ...read more

Hollywood golden couple weds

On this day in 2000, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, one of Hollywood’s highest-profile couples, marry at the Malibu, California, estate of the producer Marcy Carsey (The Cosby Show). The two actors reportedly met on a blind date in 1998 and quickly became favorites of the ...read more

Rocket causes deadly fire on aircraft carrier

A fire on a United States Navy carrier stationed off the coast of Vietnam kills 134 service members on this day in 1967. The deadly fire on the USS Forrestal began with the accidental launch of a rocket. During the Vietnam War, the USS Forrestal was often stationed off the coast ...read more

Son of Sam terrorizes New York

The so-called “Son of Sam” pulls a gun from a paper bag and fires five shots at Donna Lauria and Jody Valenti of the Bronx while they are sitting in a car, talking. Lauria died and Valenti was seriously wounded in the first in a series of shootings by the serial killer, who ...read more