“Lady Di says ‘Yes’”, ran the South China Morning Post headline on February 25, 1981, as the world’s media went into overdrive.
“Prince Charles, heir to the British throne and one of the world’s most eligible bachelors, will marry 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer, the daughter of an earl [...] Buckingham Palace announced today,” the story continued. The statement ended months of speculation that the “dashing 32-year-old prince” would marry Lady Diana, dubbed “Shy Di” by the British press pack.
The seal had been set on the romance the day before, when Diana drove her red Mini-Metro to Buckingham Palace to meet Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles.
As anticipation mounted, subsequent headlines trumpeted: “Charles Names the Day: July 29”, “Lady Di Names Designer”.
“Hong Kong will celebrate a […] holiday on July 29 to observe the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer,” the Post reported on June 11. “Chief Secretary, Sir Jack Cater, called the wedding ‘a momentous and joyful event which merits special recognition [...] in Hong Kong.’”
Celebration plans included a wedding gift and commemorative stamps. As the big day approached, reports broke that designs for the carpet Hong Kong would give as a wedding gift had arrived. (It wouldn’t be ready in time, but that hardly mattered since neither would the couple’s residence – Kensington Palace.)
On July 30, Post headlines captured the spirit of the day: “Magic Dress for Fairytale Princess”, “700 Million See Wedding”, “The Big Day … In Pictures”.
In Hong Kong, the residents of Repulse Bay’s Royden Court celebrated with a “knees up [...] in typical English street party tradition”. In Pok Fu Lam, Mr and Mrs Phil Bruce unfurled a Union Flag on their balcony, signalling passing ships to dip their white ensigns in salute. At a party inside, “the cucumber and salmon sandwiches were quickly gobbled up,” the Post reported. “So was the trifle”, despite one American being heard to say, “You’ve really got to be patriotic to eat that.”