August 03, 1981 12:00 PM

His choice, after a decade of discreetly trying the glass slipper on several fair damsels, was the girl next door. “I couldn’t have married any other kind of woman, “said Charles Philip Arthur George Windsor, Prince of Wales, after his February engagement to Lady Diana Frances Spencer. Most Britons seemed to agree—and to hope that this week’s wedding at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, to be telecast to 50 countries, might help calm the unrest that erupted in many British cities this summer. At the least, it would be a signal event for millions—especially those with supporting roles in the first marriage of a Prince of Wales since 1863. PEOPLE correspondents Fred Hauptfuhrer, Jerene Jones and Terry Smith profiled some of the cast.

To get ‘er to the church on time: an ex-jockey

As crowds strain for a glimpse of Lady Diana en route to St. Paul’s, the man in the frock coat driving the coach assigned to her and her father, Earl Spencer, will have his mind on two other spirited lasses: Lady Penelope and Kestrel, the bay mares pulling the carriage. “They have a beautiful temperament,” says Richard Boland, who, as one of the four coachman for Buckingham Palace, was selected to get the bride to the altar.

Boland, 48, has come a long way from Tipperary, his Irish home county. The son of a bookmaker, he left school at 14 to become a jockey. After a series of broken bones, two years in the army and a weight gain ended his riding career, he got a job at Buckingham Palace by answering an ad. “The royal family are very good employers,” says Boland, who lives over the stables with his wife and two children and has been in Her Majesty’s service for 22 years. “They treat their staff with respect.” His only fear for the wedding: “I’m praying it won’t rain, because although Lady Diana will be dry, I shall get wet. When that happens, the reins start slipping through my fingers.”

A proud granny garters the bride

A royal bride would never show off the garter on her blue-blooded leg, but that doesn’t faze Bertha Kemp, 72, the Hampshire grandmother who made the new Princess’s lace masterpiece. “Just knowing my work will be worn by royalty,” she says, “gives me great pleasure.”

Kemp has had that pleasure before. In 1922, while working for a small crafts collective, she was chosen to make one of a dozen handkerchiefs to be presented to Princess Mary, Queen Elizabeth’s aunt. Bertha also did the lace-making honors when Elizabeth wed the Duke of Edinburgh in 1947 and when her daughter, Princess Anne, married Mark Phillips in 1973.

A house painter’s daughter, Bertha started making lace at age 10 in the tiny village of Minstead, learning from a woman who held Saturday classes in the fading craft. Later, as a young widow with five children, she practiced her skill between jobs as a cleaning woman. “You could never earn a living making lace, because it takes one hour to do one square inch,” she explains. “You can’t really charge your labor costs because nobody would be able to afford it.” Kemp spent 45 hours fashioning Diana’s traditional blue satin garter—free of charge, naturally—covering it with lace in the so-called Duke’s Garter pattern, an open-weave design with diamond shapes in the center. “It took 42 bobbins to make the lace,” she says proudly.

Bertha’s son Fred, a fish warden on the river Test—”one of the best trout streams in the world,” she says—once fished with Charles. But Mrs. Kemp did not even consider going to London for the wedding. “I’ve got a color telly in my bedroom,” she says happily. “I’ll invite a couple of my old lady neighbors in, and we’ll have a nice glass of sherry.”

A shopfitter’s boy leads the chorus

The mélange of choral and orchestral music that Charles personally selected for the wedding makes ample use of the treble talents of the St. Paul’s Boys Choir. Head chorister Geoffrey Taylor, 13, professes not to be overawed by his role. “When I first heard we’d be singing, I thought: ‘Oh, boy!’ ” he says. “But then it cooled off.”

After all, Geoffrey and the 37 other boys at the choir school, which is located immediately behind the cathedral, have been thoroughly prepared for their task. The young students, who have been selected from all over Britain, practice at least two hours a day, not counting the nine church services in which they participate each week. In addition to singing, the boys are also exposed to the usual school fare of studies and sports.

Geoffrey, whose father is a shopfitter in charge of setting up display counters in stores, hails from Barley, near Cambridge, the university town. He excels in both music and academics, which led to his being chosen as head chorister last January. In his five years at St. Paul’s he has proved adept at such varied pursuits as the trumpet, the piano, Latin, cricket and painting. He has been awarded a scholarship to a boarding school in the town of Bishop’s Stortford and hopes to study law later on. Though his high-pitched voice is beginning to crack when he speaks, it hasn’t let him down so far on the high notes. “I’ll be all right till the end of the wedding,” he has vowed. “I’d better be.”

A clerical maverick is master of ceremonies

The Dean of St. Paul’s, the Very Reverend Alan Webster, 63, likes to think of the 2,500 wedding guests as just another flock. “St. Paul’s is a people’s church,” he says. It is also a symbol of the empire’s past glory. The 306-year-old Christopher Wren structure houses the tombs of Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington, and in 1979 was the site for the memorial service for Charles’ mentor, Earl Mountbatten.

Though the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie, is to administer Charles’ and Diana’s vows, it is Webster who will host the ceremony. For him, the path to St. Paul’s began in a Cheshire vicarage where his father was parson. After studying history at Oxford, Webster himself entered the church and later went into war-ravaged Sheffield steel plants to work with his parishioners. “As everywhere in British life,” he recalls, “the need was to bridge gaps.” As Dean of Norwich Cathedral nearly 30 years later, he gained a reputation as an innovative if not radical minister, setting up a shelter for itinerants in an empty church. Now he supports the Movement for the Ordination of Women, in which his wife, Margaret, is active. His primary duty at the wedding? “To put people at ease,” he says. “They should feel St. Paul’s is very pleased to see them.”

Flowers for m’lady from the woman at Longman’s

When the bride wanted a bouquet to complement her rose-hued cheeks and lily-white skin, the Worshipful Company of Gardeners, an old London guild, selected Longman’s, Ltd. of Fenchurch Street, which has supplied all royal weddings and official functions since 1947. As Longman’s head florist, Doris Wellham, 50, knows palace preferences. “The Queen likes to keep the flowers used for state occasions,” says Wellham, “so we make them up so she can split them afterward and put them in separate vases.”

The daughter of a London florist and the wife of an employee of the National Health Service, Wellham began her apprenticeship at Longman’s at 14. She has been there ever since, taking time out to raise two daughters. At day’s end she returns to her home in Chingford, Essex to tend her own roses and geraniums. “I’ve no favorite flower,” she says, clearly no courter of controversy. “They’re all lovely.”

When Wellham was tapped to do the royal bouquet, she went to meet Diana at Buckingham Palace with a prototype of silk flowers. “She was very pleased,” says Doris. So was Wellham. “It was lovely getting inside the palace. I couldn’t take it all in,” she recalls. “There were a lot of mirrors and oil paintings. It was spectacular, but, oh, I’m not good at words.” No matter. She can say it with flowers.

A steady hand combs out the Princess-to-be

The task of coiffing the new Princess on her big day has fallen to Kevin Shanley, 26, a stylist at a London salon called Headlines. “You wear your hair for your wedding the way you like to wear it,” says Shanley, the son of an Irish immigrant carpenter. After arranging Diana’s short, layered tresses beneath her veil in the morning, he plans to rush to the ceremony with his wife, Claire.

Lady Di first went to Headlines three years ago at the suggestion of her older sister, Lady Sarah. It was Shanley who persuaded her to have her once tumbling locks cut short. “You don’t need long hair to wear a tiara,” he says. Diana quickly took a liking to the no-nonsense salon where Shanley is one of five stylists and, before she started receiving home visits, came in regularly for two cuts a month, at $30 per session.

As the wedding date has approached, Shanley’s workload has grown. “Lady Di’s hair needs attention before all public engagements,” he explains. His reputation is growing apace, and he may soon be receiving a cut of the salon’s profits. Understandably, Shanley is grateful. “I love the royal family,” he says. “Lady Diana could not be nicer. They’re lucky to have her.”

Spun silk from the worm man of Dorset

As early as last spring, lepidopterist Robert Goodden, 41, proprietor of Britain’s only silk farm, Lullingstone, sensed a big event in the offing. Just to be prepared, he stepped up production at his tiny Dorset facility and had volunteers scour the woods of two counties for the 20 bags of mulberry leaves needed to feed his hungry silkworms each day. Once the moth larvae had spun their cocoons, Goodden and his wife, Rosemary, reeled the silk skeins that made the cloth that was to be woven into Lady Di’s wedding gown. The dress absorbed Goodden’s entire 1980-81 crop, but no matter. With Charles and Di together, Robert says, “Britain has a great future.”

The son of an Anglican vicar who was an avid butterfly collector, Robert passed time as a schoolboy by gathering worms’ cocoons from under a mulberry tree and winding the silk onto a pencil during classes. At 20, he started breeding butterflies in his father’s attic, and he eventually wrote nine books on moths and butterflies. In 1976 he bought the reeling machine and mulberry trees of the struggling Lullingstone farm in Kent. Transporting his new property to his family home in Dorset, he then turned the business into a moneymaker and a tourist attraction. On the wedding day, visitors will be able to watch the proceedings on three TV sets. The worms, however, will have to fend for themselves.

A pair of proud Mrs. Mops at St. Paul’s

The sight of the wedding guests moving along the polished marble floors of St. Paul’s to their name-tagged seats is bound to give Molly McDermott and Barbara Futtit a twinge of pride. They each earn $100 a week cleaning the cavernous cathedral and were not at all put out by being asked to show up at 7 a.m.—an hour earlier than usual—to tidy up before the 11 a.m. ceremony. Says Molly: “Ah, yes, it’s a great thing. We are working for the good and for God.”

McDermott, 51, the youngest of 10 children of an Irish farmer, left the 20-acre family spread in County Monaghan 36 years ago. Though a practicing Roman Catholic, she feels no qualms about serving the Church of England. “We’re all going to the same place,” she says in her gentle brogue. To her Anglican friend Futtit, 39, the youngest of 11 children of a London cockney who worked as a messenger, laboring in St. Paul’s is pure pleasure. “There’s never been such a building as this,” she says. “It’s a lovely job, and everybody’s friendly.”

After their last-minute dustup and a quick change of clothes, McDermott and Futtit will watch the wedding from the back of the church. Molly, who is unmarried, plans to wear her Sunday best, then join relatives for tea and telly at her nearby flat. “Charles and Diana are a nice pair,” she says. Barbara, the wife of a beer deliverer and mother of four, decided the occasion called for a splurge. “I bought a new skirt, jacket and blouse, and new shoes and a handbag too,” she reports. “My husband said it was all right.” Both women are delighted that the couple did not follow royal precedent and wed at Westminster Abbey. “It’s nice to see them here,” says McDermott. “They all get married in that other place.”

Avery’s aim: a cake fit for a king

No plastic bride and groom will smile atop the five-tiered fruitcake that Charles and Diana will cut at the private 1 p.m. wedding “breakfast” at Buckingham Palace. “They wanted plain, fine work,” says David Avery, 37, a chief cook at the Royal Naval Cookery School at Chatham, who was chosen to produce the 168-pound masterpiece covered with marzipan and icing.

“Cakey” Avery, as he is called, has been cooking since his boyhood in Blackburn, a Lancashire mill town where his dad is a retired auto mechanic. His late mother was an invalid. “I used to come home from school and feed Mum,” Avery recalls. “All my sisters were at work, so it fell on my shoulders.” At 15, he quit school to work for a local confectioner. Later he joined the Royal Navy. “You get a little stifled in a small town, you know,” he explains.

Working his way up to chief petty officer and instructor at Chatham, Avery met Prince Charles once in 1979, when he baked a commissioning cake for a ship that had been brought out of mothballs. Charles, then a commander, did the official cutting. “I think he’s the best,” Avery declares with conviction. “They say he’s stuck up, but he’s not. He likes a joke the same as everybody else.”

For the royal twosome, a Cadman-size bed

A future Queen needs her beauty rest, and where better to take it than in a king-size bed? With that in mind, Ray Cadman, 35, director of the C. and C. Bedding Co. in the West Midlands town of Lye, offered his firm’s finest to Charles and his bride for their new Gloucestershire estate, Highgrove. “My secretary, Maggie Waldock, a real live wire, had the idea,” says Cadman. To his astonishment, Buckingham Palace replied with an acceptance in seven days—while politely requesting an illustrated brochure.

For Cadman, the giveaway may be the coup of a lifetime. He and a partner started C. and C. only last year, when they were about to be laid off at another bedmaking firm where they worked as sewing machine mechanics. The present is a customized version of C. and C.’s top model, the Royal, which measures 6’6″ by 5’6″ and normally sells for $280. The mattress, described as firm but not orthopedic, will be covered in flowered Belgian damask and set in a mahogany frame. Should Charles and Di get the urge to read in bed, they may prop themselves comfortably against a padded Queen Anne style baby-blue headboard. “We didn’t want to send them anything too brash,” says Cadman.

Though a relative neophyte as an entrepreneur, Cadman is a longtime admirer of royalty. As a schoolboy, he waited all day in the rain for a glimpse of Queen Elizabeth when she was visiting a steelworks near his hometown of Halesowen. “I think the Queen will be glad to get Charles off her back,” reflects Cadman, the father of three. “It’s about time he got married.”

New neighbors give the couple the gate

As a gift to the newlyweds, residents of Tetbury (pop. 5,000), a 17th-century market town in the rolling estate country of Gloucestershire, are raising money to replace the decrepit front gate at Highgrove, the 347-acre spread that Charles purchased last year for $2 million. And if the young marrieds should chance into town, they will find their benefactors eager to meet whatever other needs they may have.

At the local bakery, Michael Francis, 32, would be tickled to offer Diana a down-home delicacy like a lardie cake, a yeast bread laced with various fruits. “I’ve got nothing against the royal family, and having Charles and Lady Diana around here will probably liven up Tetbury a bit,” he says. Grocer Colin Gray, 27, is ready to supply such necessities as good old English breakfast tea and a condiment known as Patum Pepperium, “the gentleman’s relish.” “The royal family,” he says less equivocally, “do a tremendous job.”

Over at the Tack Shack, saddler Sue Biggin, 32, who lives on a 200-acre farm with her dairyman husband, Stewart, hopes Charles and his bride might want new riding gear for outings with the Duke of Beaufort’s celebrated hunt, which often gallops right through Highgrove. “My 10-year-old daughter, Rachel, has hunted with the Prince,” Sue says. “He once asked her: ‘How are you getting on? Have you fallen off yet?’ ” (She hadn’t.) Whatever the royals’ equestrian intentions, Biggin reports that they have already stimulated the local economy. A $3 replica of Diana’s engagement ring is one of Biggin’s best-selling novelties.

Postman Thornton “Chris” Christopher, 59, has been sorting letters daily for Highgrove, though he does not have the pleasure of delivering them: A messenger picks them up. Richard Stigwood, 30, who runs the newsstand and confectionery on the town’s Market Place, was startled in May when Diana, in jeans and a sweatshirt, popped in to buy chocolate, bubble gum and eight penlight-size batteries. “I managed to talk her into the high-powered batteries,” he says proudly. Di had no money; her bodyguard paid.

As pleased as they are to have been chosen as neighbors, residents of Tetbury realize that their goodwill must take the form of discretion. Says Brian Ashley Kimber, 46, the village’s unpaid mayor and one of its 14 antique dealers: “We like to think this is a town where the Prince and Lady Diana can go to church, shop and come and go. In other words, be as natural here as life will allow them to be anywhere.”

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