Royal wedding 'fairytale' is 30 years old

It's time for a trip down royal memory lane.

Wedding-engagement As one royal wedding is behind us (Will and Kate, of course), and another in the making (Zara Phillips-Mike Tindall), the one that set the standard in terms of spectacle still stands out.

Hard to believe, but it was 30 years ago (July 29, 1981), that Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer walked the aisle of St. Paul's Cathedral.

On this side of the pond, it meant getting up before dawn, filling the coffee pot and adjusting the colour on the 21-inch TV, trying to ge all those reds just right.

The TV audience was about 750 million, not quite the size of the global crowd Charles' son would draw 30 years on, but impressive nonetheless.

This was a fairytale for the ages. The longtime bachelor prince marying this shy, 20-year-old former kindergarten teacher. Their story captured the world and, even in a pre-internet world, the scope of the interest in the couple is hard to imagine.

Unfortunately, the magic of the day was not to last. It crumpled under the weight of infidelity and lies as the years went by. The death of Diana in 1997 was merely the last of the tragic turns in the relationship. What remained to admire was Diana's legacy as the "people's princess," and the promise that her children would fare better in the glare of media and monarchy.

But none of that mattered on July 29, 1981. On that day, it was all about the fairytale. And once upon a time, the whole world watched it begin.

Diana's dress, designed by Davie and Elizabeth Emanuel, featured a train that was 7.6 metres (25 feet) long. Like Kate Middleton's wedding dress, it's creator and creation remained a closely guarded secret until the bride emerged at the church. (Photo: Ron Bull)

Prince Charles has a few words of comfort for his bride during the ceremony presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Accompanied by the Palace Guard, Charles and Diana make their way back to Buckingham Palace.

Diana, now Princess of Wales, waves to the more than half million people who lined the route to Buckingham Palace. (Photo: Boris Spremo)

The crowds were thick in front of the Palace as the couple emerged on the balcony with a few attendants and the Queen and Prince Philip.

This is probably the most iconic image of the day ... the balcony kiss that brought rousing cheers from the Palace throng.

Diana poses for the official photograph in her wedding dress. The dress was made of silk taffeta and decorated with lace and pearls.

The wedding party featured seven attendants: Edward vsn Cutsem (8), Nicholas Windsor (11), India Hicks (13), Sarah-Jane Gaselee (11), Clementine Hambro (5), Sarah Armstrong-Jones (17) and Catherine Cameron (6). Charles' brothers, Edward and Andrew (in background), acted as the groom's best men.

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