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Posted at 11:31 AM ET, 11/16/2010

Prince William's engagement: How did royals get the word out before Twitter?

By Liz Kelly

Earlier: Prince William's engagement news comes courtesy of Twitter

Charles and Diana in an informal photo taken on the day of their wedding, July 29, 1981. (Reuters)
Photo Gallery: Prince William to wed Kate Middleton in 2011

In the dark days before Twitter, royals had to rely on official statements and old media -- like newspapers (for you young'uns, it's an information-relaying medium made from the pulp of dead-trees. Kind of like parchment, but grayer) -- to get out word of a royal engagement.

In 1981, then 32-year-old Prince Charles's betrothal to a 19-year-old Diana Spencer was officially announced by his parents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip while, as The Post's Leonard Downie Jr. reported at the time:

Charles and Lady Diana, wearing her large sapphire and diamond engagement engagement ring, posed for pictures and talked briefly to reporters inside. The couple then strolled arm-in-arm, laughing, through the palace gardens. Prince Charles hugged Lady Diana as she showed her ring to photographers.

A few years later, in 1986, Britain's 26-year-old Prince Andrew and bride-to-be Sarah Ferguson, also 26, appeared together in the palace gardens shortly after word of their engagement was officially released.

The Post's Karen DeYoung reported:

As she kissed her fiance for the cameras, Sarah showed off a large diamond and ruby engagement ring, which she noted matched her flaming red hair. She said she intended to keep her job at a London graphic arts company after her marriage, when she will be known as "Her Royal Highness the Princess Andrew."

In 1947, BBC radio announced the engagement of Princess Elizabeth to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten by reading the "text of the court circular before offering best wishes to the happy couple on behalf of the listeners at home."

The Post's own coverage, from Thursday, July 10, 1947, took a less formal tone:

As Len Downie reported in 1981, scads of Londoners also thronged the gates of Buckingham Palace following the engagement of Charles and Diana. And again in 1986 a crowd gathered anticipating official word of Andrew and Fergie's news. At last check, no real world throngs had yet gathered at the palace to cheer on Wills and Kate. Instead, the world stormed a different gate; the same one used to announce the engagement -- Twitter:

More Celebritology coverage:

Prince William's engagement news comes courtesy of Twitter.

Last week, the rumor mill started churning again with word that an engagement was imminent.

Us Weekly claimed to have confirmation of a 2011 wedding.

Back in June Star magazine claimed Kate was carrying a royal bun in the oven. Buckingham Palace called the report "complete nonsense."

By Liz Kelly  | November 16, 2010; 11:31 AM ET
Categories:  Relationships, Royals  
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Can't believe there's no comments on this earth-shattering news. Used to be, a royal engagement was a big deal Now we don't even know what Kate's ring looks like, or if it matches her hair.

I guess it's not as if Snooki were engaged...

Posted by: reddragon1 | November 16, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if they'll be married by Elvis in Las Vegas. I think that would be the epitome. Right, Dorkus?

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | November 16, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

reddragon, I'd be surprised if Kate's ring matches her hair, because it's Diana's old engagement ring (featuring sapphires).

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | November 16, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Correction: Large sapphire in the middle, surrounded by diamonds.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | November 17, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

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