Why Is Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ Wedding Still the Most Popular?

With recent comments from George Clooney praising Meghan Markle and comparing her to Princess Diana (including paparazzi warnings), it’s made more people think back to the days of Diana and Charles. Several generations have passed since their wedding in July of 1981. Those of you alive then likely remember how much of a powerful event the wedding was internationally.

Little did we know then it set up a profound sequence of events that would shape the royal family forever. Had Diana not married into the Windsor family, we wouldn’t see the royals changing to more grounded individuals today thanks to William and Harry.

Viewer evidence also shows the wedding of Charles and Diana stands apart from most others.

Their wedding is still the most watched royal wedding of all time

When Harry and Meghan married last year, everyone assumed it would become the most watched wedding in human history. While the worldwide totals were still impressive (including in America considering it aired in the middle of the night), it didn’t top other royal weddings.

Four other weddings topped the ratings above Harry and Meghan’s. Even William and Kate’s wedding comes in at third place.

It turns out Princess Diana and Prince Charles’s wedding is still the most-watched royal wedding ever, at least on an international scale. That’s a little bit impressive when you consider it was a time period before cable was in every household.

Some other factors apply to why it was so popular. One is obvious and others might be a little more subtle.

Clarifying the numbers and the impact

If you want to just place Americans into the equation, more people in the U.S. did watch the Harry and Meghan wedding than any other. We all know why based on Meghan’s celebrity here first and capturing the imagination of our populace virtually overnight.

Fascination with Charles and Diana was at a higher plateau, though, when you consider nobody had seen a royal wedding on their level in a while. Only the marriage of Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier of Monaco is comparable, despite not being a widely televised event because TV technology was primitive in 1956.

For those living in 1981, civilized parts of the world were in a state of bliss and arguably a bit complacent about problems that lied ahead. As a more comfortable time, it’s no wonder Charles and Diana captured the curiosity of women and men alike.

Perhaps the public thought Diana would bring a commoner sensibility

Everyone was well aware of Diana being called a commoner, outside of being in-name-only. She still came from an aristocratic background, which helped her hang out with royals from time to time.

Nevertheless, people knew she had enough of a commoner sensibility where she could probably do the royal family some good. At the time, the Windsors were known for their overly stiff upper lip going back multiple generations. Seeing Diana with a real (though shy) personality must have resonated with everyone.

Little did people know what was ahead, but the wedding likely held hope for people outside of the naïve fairy tale.

Diana and Charles also set a warning tale

Prince Charles and Princess Diana
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer after their Wedding on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, London, England. | David Ashdown/Getty Images

You can also look at Diana and Charles’s wedding popularity based on the precedent it set for other royal weddings, plus the warnings it brought about what royal life brings.

Diana sort of destroyed the fairy tale aspect to becoming a princess. At the same time, it also showed what the real problem was: No real love/desire from Prince Charles and a relentless paparazzi ultimately bringing a tragic outcome.

All ensuing princesses clearly married for real love. The paparazzi is a never-ending problem, though, and it seems like it takes people like George Clooney to remind everyone of the dangers.

Charles and Diana’s wedding will likely remain a template on how to create a fairy tale while waking one’s self up to reality.