Sarah Jane Gaselee vividly remembers the moment Princess Diana asked her to be a bridesmaid. "She was giving me a piggyback ride while we were watching Prince Charles getting ready for a National Hunt race. I was a bit depressed because I had to go back to boarding school and Diana knew I hated it. Suddenly, she smiled and said, 'You know, I'm getting married soon. How would you like to be one of my bridesmaids?' I let out a yelp, hugged her and said: Yes, yes, yes! I'd love to," recalls Sarah Jane, then 11, daughter of Nick Gaselee, who was training the Prince as a jump jockey.
Grinning, they walked over to the Prince and told him the news. Looking up at him, Sarah Jane asked: "Will I be on TV?" Charles laughed and said: "Yes, I think there's a very good chance that you might be." A few months later, Sarah Jane took part in a TV spectacular, which attracted an audience of 750 million around the globe. She and the six other attendants were drawn through the streets of London on a dazzling sea of fluttering flags, smiling faces and waving hands.
Sarah Jane and Diana had a special friendship. Prince Charles was already a regular at the Gaselees' when he began driving over from Highgrove before dawn with a young lady called Diana Spencer, who watched him on the gallops. By mid morning, they would be back with all the stable lads, tucking into a big breakfast in the family's warm farmhouse kitchen. "I knew about their romance long before the press did. We used to smuggle Diana in and out under a rug in the back of the Land Rover. We got on really well right from the start. I looked on her as the big sister I never had."
In the run up to the wedding, Sarah Jane says: "We went for lots of dress fittings. There was a lot of waiting around, so Diana grabbed me and said, 'Let's pop out and go shopping.' "We dashed up Bond Street and into a jeans store. The paparazzi spotted us and we ended up hiding in a cubicle, giggling like crazy. Diana thought it was great fun. Being chased by photographers was quite new to her and she enjoyed every moment. She managed to buy a pair of yellow jeans before rushing back to the Emanuels. At the rehearsal, we were all so relaxed and never did go right through the whole ceremony. Charles and Diana didn't seem at all bothered, they were laughing together most of the time. When it was over, they held hands as they skipped down the aisle. They looked so happy."
Around 7:30 am on the big day, Sarah Jane's mother dropped her off at Clarence House. "We were upstairs in a room next to where Diana was getting ready. She popped in to say hello. She was unflustered, not at all nervous, happy and relaxed. She was watching the crowds and the preparations on television." At the cathedral, the children waited for the bride to arrive. "I remember peeking out of the door and seeing Michael Foot reading a newspaper, which quite shocked me. Lady Sarah Armstrong Jones was chief bridesmaid. She was lovely and acted like a mother hen, ushering us into our places. Then, she and India Hicks helped Diana out of her carriage and smoothed the creases in her dress. I wasn't a bit nervous as we set off down the aisle. I don't think the magnificence of the occasion had sunk in."
Her lasting memory is of the wonderful music which soared up to the dome of St. Paul's. "Then, Diana muddled her lines and promised to marry Prince Philip instead! We tried not to smile. As the bride and groom went to sign the register, we stayed in our places on red velvet stools. We were terribly well behaved. No one yawned, no one pocked a tongue out as Prince William did at Prince Andrew and Fergie's wedding. It was amazing how good we were, especially as Clementine was only five. Then, we walked back down the aisle and as we reached the door the full impact hit me for the first time. The roar was deafening and the bells rang nonstop, echoed by others around the city. It seemed the whole world was cheering. It was overwhelming."
"The bridal group then lined up in the Throne Chamber at Buckingham Palace for photographs. Lord Lichfield had put a chart on the wall. We had to find our numbers then stand on the spot marked on the floor. I looked and looked but my name wasn't there. Everyone was in position but I was on the sidelines, on the verge of tears, until someone found a place for me." "Though the Princess of Wales smiled all day, she was suffering from a crushing headache. As we stepped out on to the balcony, Diana complained her tiara was killing her, it was so heavy, and a pageboy stepped on her train so she worried it might be damaged. If you look at some photographs, she looked a bit tense. The problem was she couldn't take the tiara off until the end of the day."
The Untold Story Of The Royal Wedding. Publication: Hello Magazine, Issue 673. Date: 31 July 2001
Princess Diana Comforts The Shy Five Year Old Clementine, As Sarah Jane Looks On To The Camera