With royal wedding fever at an absolute peak, people all over the world will be anxiously awaiting their early Saturday a.m. wake up, as they tune in to watch the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. One major aspect of the royal wedding that viewers will likely have in the back of their minds is how similar (or different) this wedding is to the wedding of Harry's parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, back in 1981. For a variety of reasons, there will likely be many
differences between the 2018 royal wedding and Princess Diana's wedding that eager viewers will be keeping their eye on.
The main factor setting this wedding apart from its predecessor is that
Prince Harry isn't next in line to the throne, as Charles is, and so the global spotlight isn't on this wedding in quite the same way. But, thanks to Markle's celebrity, there is a lot of interest from the public in how this wedding will turn out, from the ceremony, to the food, to the flowers — and everything in between. Though Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be keeping it relatively simple by royal standards, it's still going to be one heck of an event. Here are six subtle differences between this royal wedding and Princess Diana's to keep an eye out for.
The images of Charles and Diana's 1981 nuptials are famous, and that's largely down to the cameras that captured the dress, the kiss, the carriage and every other detail. The wedding was televised to a
then-record breaking audience of 750 million people worldwide, coordinated from a central control tower, and foreign TV stations from around the world sent live translators to the BBC studios in London so they could interpret what was happening to audiences at home.
The wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry likely won't be such a record-smashing spectacle, but it'll certainly have its visuals sorted. Virtually every cable channel across America,
from FOX News to HBO, is showing it live with or without commentary, and news agencies online, including the New York Times, are planning to live-stream it, which was unimaginable when Diana was getting married. And then there are the live-tweeters and gif-makers who'll be on tap to take every visual and make it into a meme. Diana may have been the people's princess, but this will be one of the most popularly accessible weddings in history. Bethany Clarke/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Media presence at the 1981 royal nuptials was intense — so much so that, in the lead-up to the ceremonies,
Vanity Fair reports that the designers of Diana's dress had to resort to ripping up sketches to avoid journalists getting hold of them in the trash. The wedding itself was filmed in a variety of ways by the excited international press, including Movietone 35mm film, for posterity; nowadays, everything will be digitally stored.
But the biggest change will be the very limited access Harry and Meghan are giving to journalists inside the event itself. They've given
only one seat to a reporter inside the chapel itself, and only four reporters have been permitted to cover the event from the outside of the building. Whether it's a sign of disapproval for the British press or a wish to avoid a media scrum, it'll be far more private an event than Charles or Diana had. Bethany Clarke/Getty Images News/Getty Images
If you're tempted to give the soon-to-be-newlyweds a present, save it. Charles and Diana did happen to have a gift registry, but it was a
"secret" one at a fancy homewares store in London only accessible to intimate friends, and we're still not entirely sure what was on it. All their gifts otherwise were diplomatic presents from the leaders of Commonwealth nations, which is pretty traditional. (Queen Victoria was sent a colossal cheese by some of her devoted subjects with an accompanying song, which apparently pleased Prince Albert no end.)
By contrast, Harry and Meghan have openly discussed that if you want to give something to make their wedding day special, you're better off saving the toaster and giving to a variety of charities. Many of the ones they've selected
honor the charitable work that Diana herself did, including the Children's HIV Association and Crisis. WPA Pool/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
This one will likely smack you between the eyes early on – it's not easy to mix up Windsor Castle's tiny St. George's Chapel with the
massive St. Paul's Cathedral in central London. The St. Paul's location was controversial at the time of Charles and Diana's wedding, not because it was over-the-top, but because it was considered de rigeur for English heirs to marry at Westminster Abbey, which is where Prince William and Catherine Middleton tied the knot in 2011. However, Charles and Diana opted for St. Paul's because it had more room for spectators and guests.
By contrast, Harry and Meghan are scaling down tremendously for precisely the opposite reason: keeping things exclusive and intimate. St. George's Chapel is
also apparently sentimental for Harry, who spent a lot of time at Windsor as a child. Londoners are probably thankful that nobody's wreaking chaos in the center of their city this time. Oli Scarff/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Charles and Diana's nuptials were one of the most politically star-studded events of the time; not only were there royals from basically every European country present, there were also notable political figures from around the world, including
Francois Mitterand, Nancy Reagan, and then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, present at the ceremony. By contrast, Harry and Meghan courted controversy (but, more likely, actually avoided it in the long run) by announcing that they wouldn't be inviting any political figures to their wedding at all, despite Harry's long-running friendship with former President Barack Obama.
There will be several major differences between Princess Diana's wedding and that of her younger son, and many of them will be due to the simple passage of time. But no matter what surprises the ceremony has in store, you can expect this royal wedding to be different from its predecessors — while still honoring those who came before.