This Iconic Royal Wedding Tradition Started Because of a Big Mistake at the Altar

It’s now become something we expect at royal weddings.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The anecdotes from Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s royal wedding—which happened 41 years ago this weekend on July 29, 1981—are extremely interesting (and sometimes downright depressing). 

The day, for all its grandeur, had some pretty notable flubs: Diana reversed Charles’ name in her wedding vows. She spilled perfume on her wedding dress before walking down the aisle. And the slipup that started a royal wedding tradition we now love: Charles forgot to kiss Diana at the altar (oops!), so the couple made up for the miss later on the Buckingham Palace balcony, as crowds roared their approval below.

This moment “set off a new royal wedding tradition that would be replicated by generations to come,” according to PureWow. Just five years later, the now-disgraced Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson on July 23, 1986, and exchanged a kiss on the iconic balcony. On April 29, 2011, we got not just one but two kisses on the balcony from Prince William and Kate Middleton.

For Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding on May 19, 2018, the pair exchanged a kiss for fans, but not on the Buckingham Palace balcony—theirs was at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

“Ah, royal romance,” PureWow writes. “In the case of Diana and Charles, it definitely wasn’t a fairytale in the end, but, at the time, it sure looked like one.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.