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Princess Diana and Prince Charles, 1981

Royal weddings set the bar pretty high for the rest of us mere mortals. Featuring a level of glamour seemingly only reserved for Greek gods, a royal wedding is like a classic Hollywood premiere times a thousand. Bejeweled taffeta gowns with trains as long as avenue blocks. Gaping onlookers lining the streets ten deep elbowing their way through for a glimpse of the couple. Photographers snapping for every little smile, and, of course, the climactic kiss on the palace balcony.  It’s a childhood fantasy made almost real.

“Almost” is the the operative word. With the royals, unfortunately, all of that pomp and circumstance has often been followed by scandal and divorce. But even those who saw Charles and Diana’s marriage unravel in the tabloids look back at their crystalline 1981 wedding with great fondness. And there have been success stories – Queen Elizabeth II and her beau, the Duke of Edinburgh, are still arm-in-arm 63 years after their Westminster Abbey nuptials. Well-done, you two!

As we look forward to Prince William and Kate Middleton‘s wedding on April 29, let’s take a glance backward at the royal wedding spectacles the modern monarchy has produced in the past seven decades. And let’s hope William and Kate’s marriage runs a bit more smoothly than those of some of our couples. All photos from the BBC archives.

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By Kevin Wicks
Kevin Wicks is the founding editor of Anglophenia.