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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 29, 1981

I hereby proclaim this to be the final Tuesday Timeline for the month of July 2014.  And I hereby proclaim that this Tuesday Timeline will be an event that will be unlike any other.

(Or, at the very least, it will cover an event that was unlike any other.)

Of course, before we bring out the bubbly in celebration of the event and frolic in the jubilee of another jolly good Timeline entry, we must also take a look at the brilliant events that took place on this date.

So, let's proceed.

1567 - James VI is crowned King of Scotland at Stirling

1793 - John Graves Simcoe builds a fort and settlement at Toronto

1836 - Inauguration of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France

1858 - The Harris Treaty is signed by Japan and the United States

1864 - Confederate spy Belle Boyd is arrested by Union troops and is detained at Washington D.C.

1883 - Benito Mussolini (d. 1945), the 27th Prime Minister of Italy, is born

1900 - Italy's King Umberto I is assassinated by anarchist Gaetano Bresci

1905 - American actress Clara Bow (d. 1965) is born in Brooklyn, New York

1932 - Troops disperse the last of the "Bonus Army" of World War I veterans during the Great Depression

1933 - Wrestler Lou Albano (d. 2009) is born in Rome, Italy

1938 - Veteran journalist Peter Jennings (d. 2005) is born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

1948 - The 1948 Summer Olympic Games opens in London following a twelve year hiatus due to conflict caused by World War II

1967 - 134 people die when the USS Forrestal catches on fire

1973 - Race car driver Roger Williamson is killed in a car accident at the Dutch Grand Prix

1976 - The "Son of Sam" murders commence in New York City as one person is left dead and other critically injured in an attack

1987 - Plans for the construction of the Eurotunnel are given the go-ahead following the signing of the agreement by Margaret Thatcher and Francois Mitterrand

2005 - Astronomers announce the discover of dwarf planet Eris

2007 - British actor Mike Reid dies at the age of 67

2013 - Two passenger trains crash into each other near Lausanne, injuring 25

And I do want to wish the following celebrities a very happy birthday; Irwin Corey, Robert Horton, Robert Fuller, David Warner, Tony Sirico, Leslie Easterbrook, Mike Starr, Tim Gunn, Geddy Lee, Patti Scialfa, Cynthia Rowley, Alexandra Paul, Richard Steven Horvitz, Martina McBride, Timothy Omundsen, Monica Calhoun, Bryan Dattilo, Wil Wheaton, Stephen Dorff, Wanya Morris, Josh Radnor, Rachel Miner, Dominic Burgess, Allison Mack, and Todd Bosley.

All right.  Now it's time to take our time machine back to the event of a lifetime. 

The date of this event?  July 29, 1981.

Sadly, I do not remember July 29, 1981.  I was only two months old then and in all likelihood, I slept through the whole thing.  This was the point in my life where I slept sixteen hours a day and nobody looked at me strange for doing so.

However, this event did attract a lot of attention from other people.  Reportedly some 700 million people watched this event all over the world on their television sets.  Just to put it into perspective, this event was one of two huge weddings that were broadcast on television that year.  

The other wedding was the one between fictional characters Luke and Laura on "General Hospital" in November 1981.  That wedding only attracted 31 million people to their television sets.

But this wedding in July 1981 was no ordinary wedding.  This was an event that would be celebrated all over the world, especially in the United Kingdom - where the wedding was held. 

To be specific, the wedding was held that Wednesday morning at St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England, at exactly twenty minutes past eleven London time.

So, to put it into perspective, people in my area had to get up early to see the wedding - there is a five hour time difference between Ontario, Canada and London, meaning that the wedding began at 6:20am here. 

(Yep.  I was probably sleeping through it all.)

But the rest of my family were old enough to gather around the television set that hot summer morning and watch as Prince Charles of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer entered into holy matrimony in front of the British Royal Family, their guests, and hundred million people around the world!

Their relationship began in the summer of 1980 (though Charles had known Diana years beforehand).  At the time of their first date, Charles was thirty-one years old.  Diana had just turned nineteen.  They had a courtship which lasted approximately six months before Charles proposed marriage in February 1981 at Windsor Castle.  Diana accepted Charles' proposal, though the two had kept their engagement a secret from the public for at least a few weeks.  In hindsight, it was probably a grand move for both people, as neither one of them were aware just how much attention the paparazzi would shower them both with.  Of course, more on that a little later.

For now, rather than get into a full-blown story about how the wedding went and what really happened, I thought I would summarize the event by the numbers.  For a very big day, there certainly seems to be a lot of numbers associated with it.

So here was Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer's wedding - by the numbers.

14 - The number of solitaire diamonds that could be found in Diana's engagement ring.

30,000 - The amount of money in British pounds that Diana's engagement ring cost.

3,500 - The number of people in the congregation at St. Paul's Cathedral the morning of the wedding

2,000,000 - The number of spectators lining the route of Diana's procession.

2,201 - The number of military officers hired to manage the crowds outside of the wedding venue.

6 - The number of Metropolitan Police Officers who accompanied Diana and her father John Spencer during her procession to the wedding.

25 - The length, in feet, of the train on Diana's wedding dress.

9,000 - The amount of money in British pounds that Diana's wedding dress cost.

10,000 - The number of pearls estimated to be sewn onto Diana's wedding dress.

1 - The number of bottles of perfume that Diana reportedly spilled on her dress accidentally.

7 - The number of bridal attendants that Diana had for her wedding.

120 - The number of dinner guests invited to join Charles and Diana after the wedding was over.

27 - The number of wedding cakes baked for the wedding reception.

11 - The number of days that their honeymoon cruise lasted.

15 - The number of years that Charles and Diana stayed legally married (they had separated in 1992, and the divorce was finalized in 1996).

So, as you can see, the marriage did not last.  Of course, there were dozens of factors behind why this was the case.  The obvious reason, of course, being that Charles and Diana had simply fallen out of love with each other.  But there was constant scrutiny of both parties in the British tabloids (which I've found to be much harsher than American tabloids), and the accusations that both Charles and Diana had extramarital affairs with each other probably didn't help much.  And of course, Diana's admission that she had suffered from bulimia during her marriage probably had an effect on the marriage as well, not to mention the fact that she fought the paparazzi every chance she got to protect her two sons, William and Harry from being subjected to the uncontrollable behaviour of some of the people who were getting paid a lot of money for a photo.

The aftermath of the wedding is such.  Charles remarried Camilla Parker Bowles, and is still known as the Prince of Wales.

As for Diana...well, she lost her title of Her Royal Highness, and she embarked on a new career as a humanitarian.  She had finally found happiness again with businessman Dodi Fayed.  But sadly her life came to an end at just thirty-six years of age following a deadly car accident in a Parisian tunnel after being pursued by the paparazzi.

But everyone will always remember the summer of 1981...a summer in which most of us watched the wedding of Charles and Diana - a time in which both were head over heels in love with each other.

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