This wedding of Prince William and Kate – a commoner who would one day be queen if William takes the throne – won't be the most lavish royal spectacle of them all, and certainly won't match the grandeur of William's parents' ill-fated walk down the aisle. The 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer at St. Paul's Cathedral was big in every way, from the bride's 25-foot-long train of ivory taffeta and antique lace to the worldwide television audience of 750 million.
That union, of course, ended in scandal and divorce. In 1997, trailed through the streets of Paris by press photographers, Diana was killed in an auto accident, along with her companion, Dodi Fayed, and their driver, Henri Paul.
Diana's memory looms over her children – William and his younger brother, Harry – and her country.
"I think there is excitement," royal biographer Hugo Vickers says of the upcoming wedding. "I don't think it's quite the same as 1981. That was built up as such a fairy-tale occasion and it put too much pressure on the couple [Charles and Diana]. I think people are a little nervous to do that again."
Instead, this wedding is billed as something a little smaller. Well, as intimate as you can get inside Westminster Abbey, the coronation church since 1066.