The Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer

29 July 1981

The marriage of Charles and Diana, (later the Prince and Princess of Wales), took place on 29 July 1981, marking a highpoint in the popularity of the Royal Family. It was seen by a global television audience of 750 million in 74 countries. In Britain, where a public holiday had been declared, 28.4 million watched on BBC and ITV - the majority on the BBC - while 600,000 lined the streets of London.

BBC Midday News 29 July 1981. Kate Adie reports from London as thousands gather in the streets for the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral.

The BBC pulled out all the stops to ensure the widest possible audience on the day. Television coverage of the 11am ceremony at St Paul's Cathedral began at 7.45am, presented by Angela Rippon and Peter Woods. Commentary on the carriage processions and marriage service was given by Tom Fleming. Simultaneous coverage on BBC Two provided live subtitles for hearing impaired viewers, the first big outing for the Palantype system. Radio coverage was also extensive, with commentators as varied as Wynford Vaughan-Thomas and Rolf Harris along the processional route, and Terry Wogan on Radio 2, capturing the mood on the streets.

The Royal Wedding remains one of the most watched programmes, and the BBC the broadcaster most trusted for such events. In 2011 the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton (later the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) again proved very popular, and the BBC's coverage attracted 70% of the audience.