10 surprising facts about Prince Charles and Diana Spencer's wedding

Discover fun facts and surprising details from Prince Charles and Diana Spencer's wedding day, including the news of a hidden golden horseshoe...

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales, wearing a wedding dress designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel and the Spencer family Tiara, ride in an open carriage, from St. Paul's Cathedral to Buckingham Palace, following their wedding on July 29, 1981 in London, England.
(Image credit: Anwar Hussein/WireImage)

It's been over 40 years since Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding and thanks to documentaries and fictional retellings of the fairytale day in TV shows like The Crown, the details of the event still fascinate us. 

It's been almost four decades since Prince Charles and Diana's relationship blossomed into marriage, with them exchanging their vows at St Paul's Cathedral. Even though we know how the marriage ended, we can't help but look back and sigh over how magical the day seemed to be, so we started searching for details you may not have known about. 

Lady Diana Spencer Reveals Her Sapphire And Diamond Engagement Ring While She And Prince Charles Pose For Photographs In The Grounds Of Buckingham Palace Following The Announcement Of Their Engagement.

(Image credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)

1. Princess Diana was the first bride without a royal title in over 300 years.

When Prince Charles proposed to Diana, he made history as the first British heir to have a bride without a royal title in over 300 years. Diana was hardly a commoner though: her parents were Viscount and Viscountess Althorp.

2. Around 750 million people tuned in to watch their wedding.

But the couple's wedding wasn't the first one to be broadcasted on live television. Before Prince Charles and Diana tied the knot, the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, married her first husband, Antony Armstrong-Jones, in a ceremony watched by an estimated 300 million people. 

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, kissing his wife, Princess Diana (1961 - 1997), on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London after their wedding, 29th July 1981.

(Image credit: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

3. This is why Diana and Charles kissed on the balcony.

Supposedly, Charles was so nervous during the ceremony that he forgot to kiss Diana after his vows. To make up for it, the couple shared a romantic kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in front of an excited crowd. Following that, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson also kissed on the balcony after their 1986 wedding, and Prince William and his bride Kate Middleton shared two balcony kisses when they married in 2011.

4. Diana's train was the longest one of any royal wedding dress.

The train measured at 25-feet long and was paired with a 459-foot-long tulle veil. It was dramatic and extravagant and inspired many 1980s wedding dresses. Designer Elizabeth Emanuel told British Vogue the dress was deliberately dramatic and was designed to make Diana "look like a fairytale princess." 

Charles, Prince of Wales, with his wife, Princess Diana (1961 - 1997), at St Paul's Cathedral, London, during their marriage ceremony.

(Image credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

5. The wedding dress designers hid a gold horseshoe in the gown for good luck.

In a past interview with Hello! the Emmanuels, the design duo behind the iconic dress shared that they had secretly stitched an 18-karat gold horseshoe studded with white diamonds into the gown’s label. 

"We only told her on the wedding day,” David Emmanuel said in the interview. “She didn’t know about the horseshoe for good luck, she was very touched. She was traditional.”

6. Her dress reveal was one of the most top-kept secrets in the fashion industry.

It wasn't until after the wedding that we learned that Diana's wedding dress was one of the "most closely guarded secret in fashion history.” The Press Courier had reported that details of the dress were kept so hidden from any media that "sealed envelopes" were used to discuss the dress and couldn't be opened until “the moment [Diana] stepped into the glass coach at Clarence House.”

The designers were so worried about leaks that they designed three different dresses to create confusion.

7. Diana had to be sewn into her wedding dress.

In later interviews, we learned that the Princess of Wales suffered from bulimia, which caused her to lose a significant amount of weight before her wedding day.

"The first time I was measured for my wedding dress, I was 29-inches around the waist. The day I got married, I was 23 and a half inches. I had shrunk into nothing from February to July. I had shrunk to nothing,” she had said. 

For her dress to fit on the big day, her team had to sew her into the dress.

Formal portrait of Lady Diana Spencer (1961 - 1997) in her wedding dress designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel.

(Image credit: Fox Photos/Getty Images)

8. Their vows were considered untraditional by royal standards.

Diana requested to omit the word “obey” from her vows and received Charle's full support. The move made headlines, with The New York Times reporting,  “Lady Diana Won’t Vow to Obey Charles.” The change was growing in popularity for weddings at the time, but it was an unprecedented step for a royal couple. 

9. The wedding was the first royal wedding to take place at St. Paul’s Cathedral since 1501.

The couple's wedding broke with a royal tradition—getting married in Westminster Abbey. One of the reasons they decided to switch the venue was based on the size. The cathedral could hold around 3,500 people, whereas Westminster only had room for about 2,200 guests.

10. A slice of the wedding cake sold at an auction for over $1,000 in 2014.

Thirty-three years after the wedding of the century, one slice from one of the 27 cakes at the wedding was sold at an auction for around $1,375. The cake came in the original white and silver box featuring the date of the wedding and adorned with the Prince of Wales' feathers and a "CD" monogram.

Rylee Johnston

Rylee is a U.S. news writer who previously worked for woman&home and My Imperfect Life covering lifestyle, celebrity, and fashion news. Before joining woman&home and My Imperfect Life, Rylee studied journalism at Hofstra University where she explored her interests in world politics and magazine writing. From there, she dabbled in freelance writing covering fashion and beauty e-commerce for outlets such as the TODAY show, American Spa Magazine, First for Women, and Woman’s World.