Fergie's jolly wedding day

Fergie and Andy wed

July 23: Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey. They became the Duke and Duchess of York on a day that could best be described as jolly. Sarah Ferguson was not in the blushing-bride mould of Princess Diana. She was a free-spirited redhead who had enjoyed a lively past as a chalet maid and another man's long-term girlfriend.

Fergie, as she was immediately nicknamed, was seen as the perfect antidote to a monarchy in danger of taking protocol, and itself, rather too seriously. Here, agreed the royal-watchers, was a breath of fresh air through the dusty old Windsor corridors. And as the crowds lined the streets of London to wish the young couple well, all seemed set for another fairytale marriage.

It was not to be. Andrew's commitments as a helicopter pilot (he had covered himself in glory during the Falklands war) kept him away from home. Sarah's liveliness spilled over into silliness and indiscretion. They drifted apart. When she was seen canoodling with another man, with the royal princesses playing nearby, it was too much. Divorce proceedings began and the Queen could only watch helplessly as yet another of her children's marriages headed towards divorce.

January 28. The space shuttle Challenger explodes just 72 seconds after lift-off from Cape Canaveral killing the crew of five men and two women. The spectacular disaster in which the fuel tank exploded was witnessed by millions live on television. Among the dead is 37-year-old teacher Christa McAuliffe - the first ordinary US citizen chosen to go into space.

Chernobyl: the aftermathApril 26. Nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union - the Chernobyl power station, near Kiev, in the Ukraine was in flames after an explosion blew the top off a reactor emitting a massive radioactive cloud. The radioactivity drifted over northern Europe hitting crops and livestock in many countries, including sheep and cattle in Snowdonia and Cumbria. In the heroic effort to contain the fire at the nuclear power station 30 firefighters and plant workers die. Confidence in the future of nuclear energy as a power source was shaken throughout Europe.

November 21. A massive 20 million Government campaign to warn the British public about the danger of the disease Aids was launched. The campaign with the slogan "Aids - Don't Die of Ignorance" came in the wake of more than 500 cases in Britain with the number of deaths doubling every 10 months. Public health officials estimate that 30,000 are infected with the HIV virus which leads to the development of Aids - Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Leaflets were sent out to 23 million household with the messages of safe sex and never sharing needles.

April 15. US bombers, some flying from British bases, attacked the Libyan capital Tripoli and Benghazi. The attack came in the wake of confrontation between US and Libyan aircraft in the Mediterranean in reprisal for Libyan-organised terrorist action against US citizens in Europe. Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffi escaped unharmed, but 15 civilians were killed. Three hostages were killed in Lebanon in retaliation for the attack.


In brief

January 9. Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine resigned over the Westland helicopter affair.

February 16. Violent clashes between police and 5,000 pickets outside Rupert Murdoch's printing plant at Wapping.

February 25. President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife fled the Philippines as Corazon Aquino installed as new president.

April 9. Heartbreaking news for 5,000 runners when the previous day's Wolverhampton Marathon was declared 732 yards too short to qualify.

April 24. The Duchess of Windsor, widow of the late king Edward VIII, died in Paris aged 89.

June 29. Argentina beat West Germany 3-2 to win the World Cup in Mexico - England's Gary Lineker is Golden Boot winner as top goal scorer.

July 25. The Court of Appeal banned publication of former MI5 officer Peter Wright's book Spycatcher.

September 1. Wolverhampton Crown Court hears that an eight-year-old girl was involved in a sex act with an older prostitute in the town.

October 26. Jeffrey Archer resigned as deputy chairman of the Conservative Party over newspaper allegations of a scandal.

November 3. Sandwell schools were urged by the town's Community Relations Council to withdraw "racist" school books containing cartoon chimps.

November 6. A helicopter carrying oil rig workers crashed off the Shetland Islands killing 45.

November 7. Goodyear turned down a 5,000 million bid from Sir James Goldsmith. Goodyear, employing 4,000 in Wolverhampton, described the offer as "inadequate."

December 27. A Birmingham vicar, the Rev. Michael Counsell, warned Christians against "gloating" over the Aids plague.