After many years of bachelorhood, Monaco’s Prince Albert II married longtime girlfriend Charlene Wittstock. The couple married twice – once in a civil ceremony, the other religious. Royals, heads of state, celebrities and other dignitaries attended the nuptials and the Monegasque people happily celebrated that their sovereign Prince finally tied the knot.
But with the weddings came a dark cloud of possible scandal. In the days leading up to the event, it was widely reported that Charlene tried to escape to her home of South Africa upon learning that her fiancé might have fathered a child out of wedlock. Supposedly, Ms. Wittstock was stopped at an airport in Nice and had her passport confiscated.
The reports were brushed off simply as rumors, and Albert and Charlene even appeared in public the day the story broke, hand in hand through the streets of the tiny principality.
Even the bride-to-be told Vogue magazine on Friday that the rumors were just that.
“It is a shame that those rumors came at such a bad time, but I think they were timed to sabotage such a happy occasion. They are categorical lies. I won’t dignify them with any response other than to say that the photographs of me and Albert in love and getting married will speak louder than any vicious gossip and empty rumors.”
Hours later, Charlene sat in the throne room of the palace where she and Albert were married in a civil ceremony. Wearing a pale blue dress suit designed by Giorgio Armani, Charlene Wittstock became Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco as she said “Oui” meaning that she will take Prince Albert II as her husband.
After the short and intimate ceremony, the newlyweds went out onto the balcony, where they waved to the crowds below. Those crowds were watching the event on large screens outside of the palace.
At one point, the Prince and his new Princess leaned in for a kiss which delighted the crowds. However, the photo of the kiss showed Albert with his eyes open and Charlene almost cringing.
In the evening, Their Serene Highnesses attended a concert by French musician Jean Michel Jarre. The couple appeared on stage to thank the people of Monaco for their support.
At 5pm on Saturday, came the religious nuptials, being held at the palace courtyard. Many Monegasques gathered outside to the palace once again to watch not only the wedding on giant screens, but also to see the guests arrive. Sport honorees and entertainment legends were among those invited, as well as some heads of state including Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France. Royalty in the attendance included the King and Queen of Belgium, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Britain’s Earl and Countess of Wessex, and Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg. Each guest received cheers as they walked up the red carpet to the courtyard.
But the biggest cheers were for the bride, Princess Charlene. Wearing a Giorgio Armani gown made with 40,000 Swarovski crystals and 20,000 mother of pearl teardrops, plus a 19th century diamond headpiece, the new Princess was escorted down the aisle by her father. Eyes downcast and barely smiling, Charlene gave watchers an impression of being shy and serious.
Inside the courtyard was the 90 minute long Roman Catholic ceremony conducted by Bishop Bernard Barsi. Bible readings were done by Prince Albert’s two eldest nieces, Pauline Ducruet and Charlotte Casiraghi. Songs were sung by Andrea Bocelli and Pumeza Matshikiza of South Africa. During the wedding, Albert and Charlene exchanged glances, winks and smiles, but overall appeared somber.
Once the signing of the registration was complete, the Prince and Princess walked out of the courtyard and past the Monegasque people who tossed flower petals at them. The newlyweds then got into a Lexus which took them to the Sainte Devote, where Charlene laid her bouquet in honor of Monaco’s patron saint.
The festivities lasted well into night as Prince Albert and Princess Charlene celebrated with their friends and family about their new lives together.
But its doesn’t look like that is off to a good start. Within hours of the religious wedding, palace officials in Monaco confirmed that Prince Albert will take a paternity test to determine if he did father a child out of wedlock with another woman. If he did, it will be the third child he produced. He already is the biological father to Jazmin Grace, an American teenager, and Alexandre Costa, the 6 year old son of a Togolese flight attendant. Neither of those children can claim Monaco’s throne as they are illegitimate.
If the Prince really did cheat on Charlene and father a child, many royal watchers will wonder if Charlene will grin and bear it or leave for South Africa as she originally intended.
Sources: Royal Correspondent, Telegraph, CNN