So … did you get out your tiara and your tea set and set your alarm clock for the wee hours of the morning when Prince Charles married winsome schoolmarm Diana Spencer on July 29, 1981? If you did, you were one of 750 million folks around the world who tuned in to see the nervous girl with the blond bangs and 25-foot train walk into St. Paul’s Cathedral a Lady and emerge a Princess … and an icon.
Three decades later, the late Diana’s oldest son, William, 28, will make a royal marriage for himself when he weds former schoolmate and longtime love Catherine “Kate” Middleton on April 29 at the traditional 11am London time. Which means that if you plan on attending via your sofa and TV, you’ll need to be wedding-ready by 6am ET/3am PT.
Watch the wedding live:
TLC — Live coverage of the wedding and preshow starts at 3:30am ET on Friday, April 29. TLC will also air an encore of the wedding from 8-10pm ET.
In Preparation For The Wedding …
Can’t wait till then to get your royal wedding fix? Check out a month’s worth of pre-ceremony programming devoted to the pomp, the circumstance, the handsome army colonel who may one day be king and his pretty princess-to-be. Below are a few of our favorites:
Royal Wedding Of A Lifetime, Lifetime
This six-part special will examine William and Kate’s romance; how Kate measures up to Princess Diana; speculation about the wedding gown; the royal feast; a complete rundown of the wedding day; and a glimpse into what the couple’s future may hold.
A Tale of Two Princesses
Kate’s Gown of Renown
Feast Fit for a Prince & Princess
William & Kate, A Love Story
The Future King & Queen
William & Kate, Lifetime (April 18)
This Lifetime original movie tells the story of how the friendship between Prince William (Nico Evers-Swindell), second in line to the throne of the British monarchy, and stunning commoner Kate Middleton (Camilla Luddington) blossomed into a romantic love affair.
Will + Kate Forever, WE tv (April 29 at 9pm ET)
Not much of a morning person? This irreverent special features highlights of the ceremony and plenty of dish on everything from the fashion to the guests to the celebrations.
Charles + Di: Once Upon a Time, TLC (April 24)
Remembering Charles and Diana’s wedding, including pop-up elements with interesting facts.
Untold Stories of a Royal Bridesmaid, TLC (April 24)
India Hicks (a bridesmaid at Princess Diana’s wedding and goddaughter of Prince Charles) provides an insider’s view of everything royal as she takes viewers on an imperial journey that revisits her memories of that historic day 30 years ago. India will give viewers an exclusive inside look at Charles and Diana’s wedding, sharing untold stories of those who were there with her. India shares personal photographs and mementos of the day, and meets with friends, including fellow former bridesmaid Clementine Hambro and one of the designers of Diana’s dress, David Emanuel. India and her guests will also speculate what Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding will be like, from the perspective of royal insiders.
Royally Attending: 30 Defining Days of Monarchy, TLC (April 24)
A countdown of 30 defining days in the life of the royal family since the 1981 wedding of Charles and Diana. With insight from friends and royal experts, this special hits the highs and the lows the monarchy has had in the past three decades.
Wild About Prince Harry, TLC (April 25)
With his brother William about to tie the knot, Prince Harry, at 26, takes over the top spot on the list of the world’s most eligible bachelors.
Extreme Royal Collections, TLC (April 27)
Meet some of the most royally obsessed people in the U.S. and the U.K. — they have the collections to prove it! From the garish to the sentimental, this hour dives into their royal collections.
The Making of a Royal Wedding, TLC (April 28)
What does it take to pull off a once-in-a-lifetime event? Join TLC as we see some of the amazing choreography of logistics and details from security to dresses to meals as Britain prepares to host the wedding of the century.
Countdown to the Royal Wedding, TLC (April 28)
Royal experts and TLC talent host a two-hour round table from the U.K. and beyond, bringing viewers up to speed on everything they need to know for the big day.
A Princely Sum: Who’s Paying For What?
Let’s say you’re a nice girl from a hardworking, well-to-do family and you just accepted a proposal … from a guy whose family is the symbolic head of the whole bloomin’ country. Are Mom and Dad still expected to foot the bill for the brunt of the wedding seen ’round the world?
In Kate Middleton’s case, the answer is — much to Carole and Michael Middleton’s relief, no doubt — a royally resounding no.
Same goes for the whole bloomin’ country.
Insiders from Buckingham Palace have said that the thoroughly modern betrothed couple — mindful of a faltering English economy — favor a more intimate and personal affair to the sort of multimillion-dollar majestic blowout Wills’ parents had. Some say the actual tab for the event might even stay within six figures. But most experts on the subject are eyeing an overall price tag somewhere in the $30 million range.
So who will shell out that kind of cash?
Well, God save the queen’s check-signing hand — because the royal matriarch will likely pay for much of the wedding, which means she had first dibs on the guest list and sent early invites via fax to ensure that a legion of other European royals could clear their schedules for the big event. The queen (who, tradition dictates, also had to give Wills the official OK to marry) will also host a reception at Buckingham Palace immediately following the ceremony.
It’s a much-loved tradition for the newlyweds to make a public appearance — and hopefully share a public smooch — on the palace balcony before joining in.
Still, their parents aren’t completely off the gilded hook. At a minimum, Prince Charles will finance the evening reception of dinner and dancing, also held at the palace. And because Kate’s family’s mail-order business has made them millionaires, her parents will also contribute — perhaps the cost of Kate’s wedding gown or the couple’s honeymoon.
As for the English taxpayers, they’ll pick up the multimillion-dollar tab for the day’s staggering security detail. But before you log on to her Facebook page (facebook.com/TheBritishMonarchy) to complain on their behalf, consider this: The queen was once one of the country’s richest citizens and is no longer even in the top 200. So console yourself with the knowledge that most English workers will enjoy a day off — and the knowledge that the wedding’s gift to the country’s economy, in the form of souvenir sales and tourism cash, should top a billion bucks.