Features

24 February 1981: Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement

On this day in 1981, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer made their engagement official in front of the world's press at Buckingham Palace.

160224charlesdi
When asked if he was in love, Charles replied "Whatever 'in love' means".

By the 1980s, Prince Charles was getting on a bit. He was 31, and still hadn't lined up a suitable bride to produce heirs. He'd played the field, following the advice of his great uncle, Lord Mountbatten, who believed a man "should sow his wild oats and have as many affairs as he can before settling down".

Mountbatten also had clear cut ideas on marriage material. "For a wife", he said, a man should find "a suitable, attractive, and sweet-charactered girl before she has met anyone else she might fall for".

So that's what Charles did. While courting Lady Sarah Spencer, her younger sister Diana caught the prince's eye. She was, he would later admit, a "jolly, amusing and attractive 16-year-old bouncy and full of life".

And so three years later, once she'd reached a more respectable age, Charles set about wooing her.

By then, she'd found work as a nursery teacher, and as speculation grew, the world's paparazzi followed her around London has she pootled between home and work in her Mini Metro.

The couple went to polo matches, went sailing, and Diana was taken to meet the future in-laws at Balmoral. Having received the approval of the Queen, Charles proposed on 6 February 1981. And on this day that same year, they announced their engagement to the world, where they showed off the ring a 12-carat sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds.

Diana wowed the country. Asked if they were in love, Diana immediately replied "Of course!" Charles, however, said "whatever in love' means", proving what a buffoon he really is, and annoying pretty much everyone.

They were married on 29 July 1981. The day was made a public holiday, and 600,000 people turned out to line the streets, and 750 million watched the whole thing on TV.

Also on this day

24 February 1809: Drury Lane theatre burns down

Read more here

Recommended

How long can the good times roll?
Economy

How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019
Quiz of the week: 19-25 September
Economy

Quiz of the week: 19-25 September

Test your recollection of the events of the last seven days with MoneyWeek's quiz of the week.
25 Sep 2020
25 September 1996: the Taliban reach Kabul
This day in history

25 September 1996: the Taliban reach Kabul

After the end of Soviet involvement in Afghanistan, the Taliban reached the suburbs of the capital, Kabul, on this day in 1996.
25 Sep 2020
Bad data is driving fear of a second wave of Covid-19
UK Economy

Bad data is driving fear of a second wave of Covid-19

The recent spike in Covid-19 “cases” is very different to the original outbreak, says James Ferguson of MacroStrategy Partnership. The government need…
18 Sep 2020

Most Popular

How the stamp duty holiday is pushing up house prices
Stamp duty

How the stamp duty holiday is pushing up house prices

Stamp duty is an awful tax and should be replaced by something better. But its temporary removal is driving up house prices, says Merryn Somerset Webb…
25 Sep 2020
The electric-car bubble could get an awful lot bigger from here
Renewables

The electric-car bubble could get an awful lot bigger from here

The switch to electric cars is driving a huge investment bubble. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, says John Stepek. Fortunes will be made and l…
24 Sep 2020
Can Rishi Sunak’s winter plan save the UK economy?
UK Economy

Can Rishi Sunak’s winter plan save the UK economy?

With his Winter Economic Plan, chancellor Rishi Sunak is hoping to support the economy through the dark months ahead as restrictions tighten again. Jo…
25 Sep 2020