Prince Charles and his bride Diana, Princess of Wales, march down the aisle of St. Paul's Cathedral at the end of their wedding ceremony on July 29, 1981 in London. (AP Photo) #
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer are shown on their wedding day at St. Paul's Cathedral in London on July 29, 1981. (AP Photo) #
Prince Charles and his new bride Diana, Princess of Wales, pose for a family portrait with other members of the royal family, in the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace, on their wedding day July 29, 1981. (AP Photo) #
Prince Charles and his bride Diana, Princess of Wales, pose in the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace for this picture made after their wedding at St. Paul's Cathedral today. Back row, left to right: Edward van Cutsem, Lord Nicholas Windsor, Sarah Jane Gaselee, Prince Edward, Prince Charles, The Princess of Wales, Prince Andrew and Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones. Front row, left to right: Catherine Cameron, seated, India Hicks, standing, and Clementine Hambro, seated. (AP Photo, BIPNA, Pool) #
Prince Charles and his bride Diana, Princess of Wales, are shown on their wedding day on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London, July 29, 1981. Children are unidentified. (AP Photo) #
Lady Diana Spencer arrives with her father, the Earl Spencer, at St. Paul's Cathedral in London on July 29, 1981, for her wedding ceremony. (AP Photo) #
Prince Charles and his bride Diana, Princess of Wales, march down the aisle of St. Paul's Cathedral at the end of their wedding ceremony on July 29, 1981 in London. The bride's maids and the groom's brothers Prince Andrew, top left, and Prince Edwards, top right, march behind them. (AP Photo) #
Prince Charles and his wife Diana, the Princess of Wales, walk down the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral in London July 29, 1981, after their marriage ceremony. (AP Photo/Press Association/Pool) #
Lady Diana Spencer waves to crowds of well-wishers from a horse-drawn carriage en route to St. Paul's Cathedral, London, where she will marry Britain's Prince Charles, heir to the throne, July 29, 1981. (AP Photo/Pool) #
Prince Charles motions to lend a hand to the former Lady Diana Spencer as they enter their carrriage outside St. Paul's Cathedral at the ed of their wedding ceremony in London, July 29, 1981. (AP Photo/Pool) #
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer are shown at their wedding at St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981, in London. (AP Photo) #
The formal wedding portrait of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, taken at Buckingham Palace on July 29, 1981, after their marriage at St. Paul's Cathedral, London. (AP Photo)
Prince Charles and his bride Diana, the new Princess of Wales, wearing a coral silk dress and matching hat, ride toward Waterloo Station in an open carriage on their way to their honeymoon at Broadlands, July 29, 1981. (AP Photo) #
The echoes of a royal wedding from an earlier era are difficult to ignore.
The backdrop is the same: the opulent red-and-gold decor of the grand Throne Room at Buckingham Palace. And the mischievous smiles on the faces of some of the bridesmaids and page boys – and endearingly bewildered expressions on the others – are strikingly similar.
But, 30 years after the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, the official wedding picture of Prince William and Kate Middleton also reflects the differences between the two couples' relationships.
Pen pals: Diana writes about her 'cosy nest', left, and the 'happiness William brought them'
Signing herself as ‘Miss Diana’, the letters provide a glimpse into the private life of the couple, whom she dubbed simply ‘Mr & Mrs Wales’. In a poignant echo, her son Prince William and his new bride are also said to call each other Mr and Mrs Wales in private.
Diana wrote about her ‘heavenly’ honeymoon in Balmoral and her plans to make Highgrove a ‘cosy nest’.
And she confided to a friend her nerves over a visit to Wales – one of her earliest royal duties – and, with William’s arrival, described the joy of becoming a mother.
But the image conjured by the hand-written letters is starkly at odds with Diana’s later claims that she was desperately unhappy. Years later, she would reveal she had thrown herself down stairs while pregnant with William, and had attempted suicide several times before 1986.
In 1986 she wrote to Mrs Hodge to thank her for sending a card to mark her fifth wedding anniversary.
‘The five years have flown by,’ she wrote. But she was later to confess to beginning an affair with Major James Hewitt in 1986, and Charles said he rekindled his affair with Camilla Parker Bowles in the same year.
Mrs Hodge, 69, said: ‘I know she was very much in love with Prince Charles and she just wanted to be loved in return.’
The letters are expected to sell for around £20,000 when they go up for auction in Colchester on June 21.
Lot item: The collection of letters will form part of a Royal Memorabilia auction
Mrs Hodge's collection will be sold by auctioneers Reeman Dansie in a Royal Memorabilia auction, which also includes letters Diana wrote to her late financial adviser Joseph Sanders thanking him for a pair of Chanel earrings.
Reeman Dansie Royal specialist James Grinter said: 'This is a charming collection of personal letters and cards written by Diana to Mrs Hodge after they worked together at the Young England kindergarten and went on to become close friends.
'The Princess' letters give a fascinating glimpse into her life in the early years of her marriage to Prince Charles and we are expecting a lot of interest from collectors from around the world.'
Mrs Hodge added: 'I was very privileged because my friendship with Diana continued after her wedding and we were in contact until her death in 1997.
'She was a very busy lady, but she took time to meet up in a coffee shop a couple of times and she also invited me to tea at Kensington Palace.
'I know she was very much in love with Prince Charles and she just wanted to be loved in return.
'And I know Diana would have been so proud when Prince William married Catherine and the fact he gave her his mother's own ring when they got engaged.'
Happy: William and Kate surrounded by, clockwise bottom right, The Hon. Margarita Armstrong-Jones, Miss Eliza Lopes, Miss Grace van Cutsem, Lady Louise Windsor, Master Tom Pettifer, Master William Lowther-Pinkerton
TALKING brightly of nest-building and the joy of time alone with her husband, these are the letters of an apparently blissful bride.
Yet as was to become all too clear, Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles was riddled with tensions from the start.
Despite this, the previously unpublished personal correspondence reveals the Princess of Wales was, in those early years at least, able to keep up appearances.
On sale: Mrs Hodge's collection will be sold by Colchester auctioneers Reeman Dansie
Lot number 9: Lady Diana Spencer handwritten letter to Mrs Hodge, dated July 29th 1986
In her letters – which are littered with exclamation marks and the odd spelling mistake – Diana wrote of the pride she felt about her ‘two little men’, her young sons William and Harry. One note is daubed with inky smudges, which Diana said were William’s fingerprints.
The correspondence was revealed for the first time yesterday as it was put up for sale by its recipient, retired school principal Margaret Hodge.
The two women became friends when they worked together at the Young England kindergarten in Pimlico, London, before Diana’s marriage. It was a friendship that continued until the Princess of Wales’s death in 1997.
Flashback: Picture of Lady Diana in 1981, as a teaching assistant at the Young England nursery in Pimlico, London with teacher and close friend Margaret Hodge
It is the luxury Spanish villa where the young Diana Spencer spent summers and now the so-called 'Mallorcan Castle' is for sale.
And despite its staggering £30million price tag, Madonna is said to be interested in buying the luxury bolthole.
The grand villa is where the young Diana enjoyed summers before marrying Prince Charles and the Material Girl is reported to be interested even though she is yet to see the property.
But the wealthy owner who snaps up the villa will also get a private cave and a pontoon for 30metre yachts included.
The 1,400 square metre property includes a sauna, gym, piano lounge and billiards room.
Guest houses, a swimming pool, gardens and terraces also feature in 6,000 square metres of land.
The Puerto de Andratx property, 20 minutes from Palma, is the most expensive in Mallorca.
Neighbouring properties have previously sold for £21,500 per square metre.
Other former guests include ex-German chancellor Christian Wulff.
Grand design: The property known as Castilla Mallorca - Mallorca Castle in English- is on sale for a whopping £30million
Celebrity bolthole: Princess Diana (R) used to spend her summers at Castillo Mallorca and Madonna is reportedly interested in buying the property
Pool with a view: The property overlooks the sea and comes with gardens and terraces as well as its own cave and a yacht pontoon
Precarious setting: With sea views on both sides of the property, and a staircase straight down into the water, the luxury villa is billed as the most expensive on the Balearic island
Royal hat trick: Princess Diana, Prince Charles and former Spanish Queen Sofía spent a summer holidaying on the Balearic Island, where Diana also spend many childhood summers
Dine in style: Guests can enjoy stunning views of the Mallorcan coastline from the villa's open-air dining room
Room with a view: The villa's many bedrooms are decorated to a high standard and, of course, offer sweeping views of the coast
Hefty price tag: The Puerto de Andratx property - which is located 20 minutes from Palma - is the most expensive in Mallorca
On the waterfront: The luxury villa covers 1,400 square metres and its location is second to none