‘You Had to Be There’: Revisit Charles & Diana’s Wedding With BBC Special

Princess Diana and Prince Charles
Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

For 750 million people, July 29, 1981 — the day Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer — was a viewing experience like no other, a fairy tale come to life on their television sets. For the thousands of deliriously excited royals fans who lined the streets of London, firmly believing in happily ever after, the day was unforgettable.

The 2001 special , Charles and Diana’s Wedding: You Had to Be There, examines their experience. In the TV Guide Magazine cover story leading up to the event, the late British writer Anthony Burgess wrote about the celebration to come.

“This is going to be a magnificent wedding, and our television screens will capture the full colour of the occasion….

“But, at the simplest level, it will be heartening to partake of the colour and music of a ceremony magnificently dressed and appointed. The British may not be good at many things these days, but they know all about ceremony. London will be flowing with wine and beer, and over the Thames there will be fireworks. In the pubs a few old stagers will remember the words of the old song ‘God Bless the Prince of Wales.’ Our lives, God knows, are drab enough. The common man has had too complete a triumph and has dressed us all in grey. It will be a shot in the arm to see gold and scarlet and purple again, and to hear the silver trumpets.”

Kate Middleton Prince William Wedding

(Credit: John Stillwell – WPA/Getty Images)

Another tiara, another train to check out: Revisit the April 29, 2011, vows between the second in line to the throne, Prince William, and the stunning bride, Catherine Middleton, who captivated the public just as his mother Diana did in The Royal Wedding 2011: Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

Charles and Diana’s Wedding: You Had to Be There, Thursday, April 29, 6/5c, BBC America

The Royal Wedding 2011: Prince William and Catherine Middleton, Thursday, April 29, 8/7c, BBC America