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Two royal weddings, 30 years apart...But how much will have changed?

All eyes will be primed on Friday for echoes of that other royal wedding. We’ve already spotted some similarities….and quite a few differences.

As Prince William marries his girlfriend Kate Middleton at 11am on Friday morning, all eyes – at least all the eyes of tabloid newspaper editors – will be primed for echoes of the wedding of Charles and Diana.

So how will the two events compare?

The happy couple

  • Diana Spencer was just 20 when she married Prince Charles – a man she had met a mere 19 times before their big day.
  • Catherine Elizabeth Middleton will be a more mature 29 when she marries long-term boyfriend William after a nine year courtship. She’s already well acquainted with his bad habits, having lived together for some time at Clarence House, and more recently on the remote island of Anglesey in North Wales. William seemed determined not to repeat the mistake of his parents, and the couple split briefly in 2007, amidst reports that he felt he was “far too young” to marry. She said at their engagement that she “wasn’t very happy” about the split, but that she now appreciated the time apart.
  • Kate Middleton’s title after the ceremony hasn’t been revealed, but it won’t be Princess Kate.

The church

Westminster Abbey, where Friday’s marriage of William and Kate takes place

  • It took Lady Diana Spencer a full three and a half minutes to walk down the aisle of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, to the altar where she became the Princess of Wales.
  • Kate and William have chosen to marry instead at Westminster Abbey, a venue used for many royal weddings over the past 900 years. It’s probably going to take her a full four minutes to walk up the aisle.

The ceremony

  • Three thousand five hundred people crammed into St Paul’s to hear Diana and Charles promise to love one another for all eternity.
  • Diana and Charles were so nervous during the event that both stumbled over their words. Diana referred to her intended as “Philip Charles George Arthur” rather than “Charles Philip”, a slip-up which reportedly led Prince Andrew to cackle, “She’s married my father.”
  • A more modest 1,900 guests were invited to the wedding of Kate and William. Not all are expected to attend – guests who have confirmed their attendance include Brown Thomas owners Galen and Hilary Weston, Cardinal Sean Brady, the Beckhams, Peter and Iris Robinson, Guy Ritchie, Rowan Atkinson,  the England rugby captain Clive Woodward. And not all of those who are at the service will be invited to the reception, the BBC adds.
  • The dress code is “uniform, morning coat or lounge suit”.
  • Two choirs, one orchestra and two “fanfare teams” will provide the entertainment on Friday.

The dress

  • Princess Diana’s wedding dress, designed by Elizabeth Emanuel, sported 10,000 pearls and sequins and a 25ft train.
  • Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen had been hotly tipped to have designed The Dress, – but that was until rumours gained momentum in recent days that Kate Middleton’s wedding dress will in fact be designed by Sophie Cranston. We won’t know for sure until a few minutes after 11am on Friday morning. But all the indications are Kate will be going for statement hair – she’s set to have six hairdressers seeing to her sure-to-be glossy ‘do.

The coverage

Tourists walk past a temporary construction housing TV studios for the coverage of the upcoming royal wedding, across from the Buckingham Palace

  • At the time, the wedding of Charles and Diana was the biggest TV event in history, attracting 750 million viewers worldwide – 150 million more than the Apollo II moon landings.
  • But the concept of the spin-off show hadn’t really arrived, and BBC coverage on the day began with a Tom and Jerry cartoon.
  • By contrast, the wedding of William and Kate will be watched or listened to by one in every three people in the world, according to the Wall Street Journal. Two billion will tune in on TV – twice the number who watched the rescue of the Chilean Miners who had been trapped for 69 days – and a further 400 million for online streaming via YouTube and radio. The whole event will be overseen by Simon Cowell’s X Factor stage manager, according to the Sun.
  • Coverage of the event itself will be surrounded in Britain and the US by thousands of hours of spin-off documentaries with such riveting titles as Extreme Royal Collections, How To Marry A Prince, How To Be A Princess, From Pit to Palace: Kate’s Coal Mining Ancestry and Royally Mad.
  • 7,000 journalists are expected to camp out in London for the event.

The reception

  • Only 120 guests were invited to the reception of Diana and Charles at Buckingham Palace.
  • By contrast, William and Kate have invited 650 relatives, friends and dignitaries to the lunchtime reception, where they will dine on 150 different types of canapé, while about 300 are expected to stay on for a more intimate evening dinner.

The honeymoon

The honeymoon destination?: Lizard Island

  • After their wedding breakfast, which was attended by just 120 people, Charles and Diana took a train to Romsey in Hampshire, where they honeymooned at the Broadlands and at the Queen’s Balmoral Estate.
  • Though the location of their honeymoon is a closely guarded secret, reports suggest that William and Kate may also spend at least part of their honeymoon at Balmoral, but they’re also likely to spend at least a week in the sun somewhere – possibly on Lizard Island off the Great Barrier Reef.

Will you be watching the royal wedding?

Poll Results:

You can bet your commemorative teaset (204)
I'd rather gouge my eyes out (89)
I'll be watching Ros na Run on TG4 instead (47)

Visit the royal wedding website, YouTube channel, Facebook page, Flickr page and Twitter account >

About the author:

Jennifer O'Connell

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