Princess Diana and Prince Charles in 7 Forgotten Photos From Their Engagement

Princess Diana and Prince Charles married in the “wedding of the century” on July 29, 1981. Around the world, millions of people watched the ceremony live on TV. Meanwhile, crowds formed around St. Paul’s Cathedral to witness it firsthand. 

Princess Diana and Prince Charles ride in a carriage after their royal wedding
Princess Diana and Prince Charles at their royal wedding | Anwar Hussein/WireImage

Nearly 40 years later and their nuptials remain a source of fascination. To mark the occasion, we’re taking a look back at Charles and Diana in the months leading up to their royal wedding. Ahead, check out photos of them during their engagement. 

Prince Charles proposed to Princess Diana in February 1981

First in the British royal family’s line of succession, Charles ended his single days in early 1981. At the time, he’d been under pressure to get married and produce an heir.

Charles proposed to Diana, then Lady Diana Spencer, on February 3, 1981. Not a particularly romantic proposal, Charles asked Diana to marry him then called Queen Elizabeth II, according to royal biographer Christopher Wilson. 

Prince Charles and Princess Diana pose for photos after announcing their engagement
Prince Charles and Princess Diana announce their engagement | Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

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“He didn’t pick her up in her arms and embrace or do any of the things we might do when we propose marriage to the one that we love,” Wilson said in Charles And Di: The Truth Behind Their Wedding. “He rang his mum, simply to say there, I’ve done it now. You’ve asked me to get married to somebody and I’ve fixed it.”

And when Charles popped the question to a then-19-year-old Diana, she burst out laughing supposedly because of nerves. They kept their engagement quiet for a few weeks until going public with the news on February 24, 1981. 

They attended official royal engagements together

Not long the proposal announcement did Diana, the soon-to-be royal, join Charles at events. Before they’d be seen out together at more casual events such as polo matches but after the engagement, Diana started easing into her royal duties. 

She and Charles visited Hampshire, England. 

Princess Diana watches as Prince Charles' shovels dirt
Princess Diana and Prince Charles in Hampshire | Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Hulton Royals Collection/Getty Images

RELATED: Princess Diana Spent Royal Engagements ‘Laughing and Smiling More’ to Reportedly Annoy Prince Charles

On another occasion, they stopped by Gloucestershire, England, for a visit. 

Princess Diana and Prince Charles in Gloucestershire, England
Princess Diana and Prince Charles in Gloucestershire, England | Serge Lemoine/Getty Images

Notice the cameras following their every move as they arrived at horse stables.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana arrive at horse stables
Prince Charles and Princess Diana arrive at horse stables | Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

RELATED: Princess Diana and Prince Charles: Their Relationship in Photos

A little less than two months before they would walk down the aisle at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Diana and Charles had their first wedding rehearsal. Photographers snapped photos of them leaving the church. 

Princess Diana and Prince Charles walk down the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral after their first wedding rehearsal
Prince Charles and Princess Diana leaving St. Paul’s Cathedral | Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Later that month, Diana joined Charles at a more formal event at the Royal Academy. 

Prince Charles and Princess Diana attend an event at the Royal Academy
Prince Charles and Princess Diana | Kypros/Getty Images

With less than four weeks to go, she’d have all eyes on her at the royal wedding.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles took time to relax

Between the time of their engagement and their royal wedding, Charles and Diana retreated to Balmoral Castle.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana at Balmoral Castle
Prince Charles and Princess Diana at Balmoral Castle | Mirrorpix/Getty Images

One of the queen’s favorite royal residences, they posed for photos.

Three days before their wedding, Charles and Diana went to a polo match. They sat with Charles’ brother, and Diana’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, Prince Andrew, Duke of York.

Prince Andrew, Princess Diana, and Prince Charles at a polo match
Prince Andrew, Princess Diana, and Prince Charles | Jayne Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

After their royal wedding, Diana and Charles would go on to separate in 1992. They made their split official in 1996 when they finalized their divorce. In August 1997, Diana died from injuries she sustained in a car accident. Charles later married Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005.

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