LONDON, July 4, 1981 — In a break with royal precedent, Lady Diana Spencer has decided that she will not promise, at her wedding four weeks from today, to obey Prince Charles.
Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret, Princess Anne and a long line of royal brides before them have included the word ”obey” in their wedding vows, as prescribed in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer dating from 1662. But Lady Diana has chosen to follow the new ritual of the Church of England, and she will promise in the ceremony at St. Paul’s Cathedral only to ”love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health.”
Prince Charles and his fiancee, both believers in a slow but steady evolution of royal tradition, were said to have held ”very serious” discussions on the point with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie, before deciding to do what most modern English couples do. Dr. Edward Carpenter, the Dean of Westminster Abbey, where most previous royal weddings have been held, said in an interview that he was ”absolutely delighted” by the royal couple’s decision.
”Marriage is the kind of relationship where there should be two equal partners, and if there is going to be a dominant partner, it won’t be settled by this oath,” the clergyman declared. ”I think this is much more Christian.”
GETTING TO THE CHURCH ON TIME! PALACE ANNOUNCES TIMING
Details of the wedding were announced by Buckingham Palace on July 1, Lady Diana’s 20th birthday. The couple celebrated the event at a small family dinner party at the palace tonight after the Prince returned from opening an exhibition on the disabled at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in northeast England.
In one respect it appeared that the couple would follow the pattern set by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh when they were married in 1947. Like Charles’s parents, he and Lady Diana seem to have decided to spend at least part of their honeymoon at Broadlands, the mansion at Romsey in Hampshire that was owned by Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who was killed by Irish Republican Army terrorists in August 1979.
Although no official announcement has been made, it was disclosed yesterday that the house will be closed to the public later this month. The wedding timetable indicates that at 4 P.M. Prince Charles and his bride will go by carriage from the palace to Waterloo Station to begin their wedding trip.
The wedding will also depart from tradition in the participation of non-Anglican clergymen in the marriage of a man who one day is expected, as King of England, to head the church. Dr. Runcie will officiate, but prayers will be offered by, among others, Basil Cardinal Hume, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, and Dr. Andrew Doig, Moderator of the Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian.
All of the music played during the 70-minute service will be by English composers, including Handel, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Purcell, Elgar, Walton and Tippett. Among the musicians taking part will be the part-Maori soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, who is reportedly a special favorite of the Prince, a sometime cellist.
The final hymn will be ”I Vow to Thee, My Country,” which has come to be associated with Lord Mountbatten. Two nights before the wedding, the Queen and Prince Philip will give a dinner party in honor of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. On the night before the wedding they will give another dinner in honor of distinguished visitors. After the ceremony they will give a wedding breakfast for the bridal party and the royal family.