July 29: It was the wedding not of the year but of the
century. Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's
Cathedral and Britain went wild.
Elsewhere it was a year of riots, terrorism and the IRA hunger
strikes. And yet the amazing ability of the monarchy to focus
the nation had lost none of its power.
Hundreds of millions around the world watched as Charles and
Di made their wedding vows. He stumbled over her name; she over
his, but otherwise everything went perfectly. It was a fine, warm
day and the streets of London were packed with hundreds of thousands
of well-wishers waving union flags and decked in red-white and
Even before the couple announced their engagement, there were
some cautious voices. Charles was much older than Diana and they
had few friends or interests in common. And could any 20-year-old
woman, no matter how poised and mature, deal with the frenzy of
media interest that would follow such a wedding?
Insiders wondered what would become of Charles's long-term lover,
Camilla Parker Bowles. But such views were stifled by the overwhelming
tidal wave of goodwill for what looked like a fairytale wedding.
On the balcony at Buckingham Palace, egged on by the masses beyond
the railings, Charles broke with royal protocol and kissed his
bride. The crowd loved it.
March 30: President Reagan was shot in the chest by 25-year-old
former Yale student John Hinckley as he left a Washington hotel.
Three others were also wounded. The 70-year-old president was
thrown bodily by Secret Servicemen into the back of a car which
raced to hospital where a bullet was successfully removed from
his left lung. When Mrs Reagan was taken in to see her husband
he allegedly quipped "Honey, I forgot to duck", a line from a
1930s film. Hinckley, the son of a Denver oil executive, was working
as a disc jockey at the time of the assassination bid.
In May, Pope John Paul II was shot as he blessed crowds
in St Peter's Square from his Popemobile. The pontiff was hit
twice in the stomach by 23-year-old Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali
Agca in protest against Soviet action in Afghanistan and US involvement
in El Salvador. Police had to surround the gunman to stop him
being lynched by the crowd.
23: Britain's most notorious serial killer Peter Sutcliffe,
the so-called Yorkshire Ripper, was sentenced to life on 13 counts
of murder and seven of attempted murder following a sensational
trial at the Old Bailey. The Bradford lorry driver's reign of
terror - which mainly focused on the red-light district of Leeds
- had lasted from October 1975 until his arrest in January. More
than 175,000 people were interviewed during the police operation.
Sutcliffe was a suspect but he slipped through the net. He was
eventually detained for a motoring offence.
July 10: The streets of Handsworth and Wolverhampton
were the centres of wave upon wave of stone and petrol bomb attacks
on police, shops and cars. Five policemen were hurt, three rioters
treated in hospital and nearly 100 people arrested during a five-hour
orgy of destruction. Daylight revealed the shocking scenes of
mob rule which saw 50 shops wrecked and looted and an estimated
500,000 worth of damage caused.
Councillor Edwin Shore, chairman of the West Midlands police
committee, called for a full report on the trouble. "No-one in
the West Midlands is free from blame for what happened. I believe
politicians locally and nationally have let the people down, especially
in the run-down inner areas," he said.
April 4: Jockey Bob Champion won the Grand National on
Aldaniti in an emotional tale of courage for both jockey and horse.
The victory came two years after he had been given eight months
to live when cancer was diagnosed, while Aldaniti had come back
from years of tendon trouble and a broken hock bone. At the finish,
many of the Aintree crowd were in tears.
January 25: The Council for Social
Democracy, or the so-called Gang of Four, was launched by
former cabinet ministers Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams,
David Owen and William Rodgers.
January 27. "Happy go lucky" Kidderminster
dustman John Davies was found brutally killed in what police
believed was a grudge killing.
February 18: Margaret Thatcher made
her first major U-turn with the promise of more state money
for the coal mines.
March 29: Dick Beardsley of the
US wins the first London Marathon. Joyce Smith wins the
April 2. Midland Red announced it was
closing it Birmingham headquarters with the loss of 170 jobs
April 4: Oxford won the boat race
with the first woman cox in history - 23-year-old biochemist
April 24. Sandwell Council reports
that employees taking time off for union business cost the
authority £40,000 last year.
May 5: IRA hunger striker Bobby
Sands died in Belfast's Maze prison. His stand was part
of a campaign to win IRA internees special status as prisoners
June 30: Six blank shots were fired
at the Queen as she rode down the Mall on horseback for
the Trooping of the Colour. An unemployed youth from Folkstone
was charged with the offence.
July 4: Tennis bad boy John McEnroe
broke Bjorn Borg's string of five successive Wimbledon wins
by taking the men's singles title and picking up a 5,000
fine for abusive on-court behaviour.
September 1: Garages in the UK
start selling petrol by the litre.
October 6: Egyptian Prime Minister
Anwar Sadat was assassinated during a military parade in
October 7. South West Staffs MP Patrick
Cormack led the rebellion of the "Wets," urging Mrs Thatcher
to change her economic policies or face disaster.
October 19: British Telecom announced
it was scrapping the telegram.
November 12: The Church of England's
General Synod voted overwhelmingly to admit women into the
priesthood as deacons.