What music did Prince Charles and Princess Diana have at their wedding?

Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in a ceremony at St Paul's Cathedral in 1981, accompanied by three choirs, three orchestras and a fanfare ensemble

LONDON, UK - JULY 29, 1981: Royal Wedding. Photo Of Diana Princess of Wales taken by Ron Bull July 29, 1981.        (Ron Bull/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

At Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding, the music on the programme included a mix of religious and national anthems, including ‘I Vow to Thee, My Country’ and ‘Let the Bright Seraphim’ from Handel‘s opera Samson.

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The songs used at the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana included the Prince of Denmark’s March, ‘I Vow to Thee, My Country’, the British National Anthem and Elgar‘s Pomp and Circumstance No. 4.

New Zealand soprano Kiri Te Kanawa performed ‘Let The Bright Seraphim’ from Handel’s Samson. 

Other pieces featured within the service were Elgar’s Sonata for Organ Op. 29, Walton’s Crown Imperial and Vaughan Williams‘s Rhosymedre. 

Before the service, the following music was performed:

Howells: Paean
Tippett: Preludio al Vespro di Monteverdi
Britten: Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of Vittoria
Williamson: Aria and Toccata from Symphony for Organ
Elgar: Sonata in G for Organ Op. 28
Howells: Psalm-Prelude, Set II No. 3
Bliss: Andante tranquillo
Bush: Trumpet March
Vaughan Williams: Rhosymedre

All the composers featured in the organ music at the beginning of the service were British, with the exception of Malcolm Williamson, the Australian composer who was – at the time – Master of the Queen’s Music.

During the procession of the Queen, the Rondeau from Purcell‘s Abdelazar was played, and another piece by Purcell was performed when the Prince of Wales entered: the composer’s Trumpet Tune. 

While the Prince and Princess of Wales were signing the register, Handel’s March from the Overture tor the Occasional Oratorio was played, followed by Kiri Te Kanawa’s performance.

The bride and bridegroom processed out to the sounds of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance No. 4 and Walton’s Crown Imperial. 

What hymns were sung at Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding?

Purcell’s Christ is made the sure foundation and Holst’s I Vow to Thee My Country were the two hymns sung during the service.

You can find a link to the order of service for the wedding of Charles and Diana here.

Kiri Te Kanawa performing Handel’s ‘Let the Bright Seraphim’ 

From the stunning overhead shots of a wedding dress train that seemed to stretch half the length of St Paul’s Cathedral to the nervous bride coming unstuck with the names Charles, Philip, Arthur and George, memories of the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer still linger strongly. For music lovers, those memories include, during the signing of the register, a radiantly joyful performance of ‘Let the bright Seraphim’ from Handel’s Samson. Doing the honours alongside the Bach Choir was New Zealand soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, who was immediately propelled to superstardom.

Who performed at Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding?

The couple had three choirs, three ensembles and a fanfare ensemble at their wedding: the Bach Choir, the Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Choir of the Chapel Royal, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra and a fanfare ensemble from the Royal Military School.

Barry Rose, choirmaster at St Paul’s Cathedral, conducted the choirs, while the cathedral’s organist and sub-organist – Christopher Dearnley and John Scott respectively – played the organ.

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The orchestras were conducted by David Willcocks, director of the Royal College of Music; Richard Popplewell, organist at Chapel Royal; and Colin Davis, music director at the Royal Opera House.