Monaco Celebrates a Glamorous Royal Wedding
July 30, 2011
Surrounded by the beauty of the Italian Renaissance Palace of Monaco, 53-year-old Prince Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi wed his girlfriend of ten years, the beautiful former South African Olympic swimmer, Charlene Wittstock, twenty years his junior, on July 2, 2011.
The Roman Catholic service was attended by approximately 800 guests including the Kings of Spain, Sweden, Belgium and Lesotho, and the Presidents of Lebanon, France, Ireland, Malta, Iceland, Germany, and Hungary. The UK was represented by Prince Edward, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II, as Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, were on their royal Canadian tour. Other guests included supermodel Naomi Campbell, fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani, as well as former James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore.
The red and white flags of Monaco hung from the high-rise buildings alongside flags of South Africa. The wedding was a lavish celebration, the first of its kind since the wedding of Prince Rainier III to Hollywood beauty Grace Kelly back in 1956. Not surprisingly, the bride has been likened to Grace Kelly with her long, lean frame, glittering blue eyes and blond hair, and on her wedding day she did not disappoint. Walking down the red-carpeted aisle of the palace courtyard that was transformed into an open-air cathedral, she looked stunning on the arm of her father, Michael Wittstock. Her gown was designed by Giorgio Armani and is rumored to have taken over 2,500 hours to prepare. Made from 130 meters of off-white silk, the gown was encrusted with 40,000 Swarovski crystals, 20,000 mother-of-pearl teardrops, and 30,000 stones in all shades of gold. The embroidery, estimated to have taken 700 hours to complete, was done in platinum-coated thread, creating floral patterns with the various crystals, pearls and stones.
Prince Albert, who has ruled the tiny principality of Monaco since the death of his father, Prince Rainier III, in 2005, was clad in the cream summer uniform of the palace guards, which was embroidered with oak and olive leaves and trimmed with golden monogrammed buttons.
The melodies of Bach, as well as traditional South African songs, played during the ceremony, in which both said Oui when asked to take each other as husband and wife. The exchange of the white gold and platinum rings made by Cartier was slightly confusing when Prince Albert tried to put the ring on the wrong hand, which made the couple both smile. When she finally lifted her veil Prince Albert winked at his new bride, before sharing a kiss, prompting cheers from the 800 guests and additional 3,500 Monegasque citizens watching on a giant screen outside the palace square. The new Princess Charlene was in tears after the ceremony as the couple rode off in a hybrid Lexus LS 600h L car, instead of a horse-drawn carriage.
Following the wedding, 500 guests dined on Mediterranean-themed cuisine, prepared by famed chef Alain Ducasse, whose acclaimed restaurants have obtained the honor of a combined 19 Michelin stars. All of the ingredients for the meal, aside from the South African wine and champagne, were sourced from a 6-mile radius from Monaco.
The event organizers spent 55 million Euros, which also included a concert by the Eagles, a marvelous glittering firework display over Monaco Bay, and a concert by French musician Jean Michel Jarre. Over one thousand journalists from all over the world flocked to the festivities, as well as 200,000 tourists – a relatively enormous number when compared to the 7,618 residents of Monaco!
Amidst some scandal and rumor, residents of Monaco were relieved that the elaborate wedding took place as planned. Having already fathered two illegitimate children (Alexandre 6; Jazmin 19), there has been rumor that the playboy Prince has a third love child! French newspapers delighted in this scandal, claiming that prior to the wedding, Charlene purchased a one-way ticket and tried to return to her home country, but that her passport was confiscated by police at the Nice airport. Meanwhile, royal confidantes claim that Prince Albert simply didn't have time to organize a DNA test before the wedding. Of course, the happy couple has denied all rumors.
The citizens of Monaco have long been waiting for their prince, often dubbed the “eternal bachelor”, to finally tie the knot. Having been linked to many famous and beautiful women over the years, Prince Albert’s marriage brings security to the country, for without a prince, there is no principality. Now, Monaco awaits the news of a legitimate heir, otherwise the Grimaldis will have to cede their tiny principality to France, ending the 700-year-old Grimaldi dream.