The say of wedding was a day of music and of moving ceremonial which far outstripped expectations, and did much to scotch the worst prophecies of the naysayers. Amid the splendour of the Mediterranean principality’s Italian Renaissance palace Prince Albert of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock had their marriage blessed in a Roman Catholic service on Saturday.
The religious ceremony was orchestrated with a sense of real finesse: lavish, but with a depth of tradition and culture that lent considerable weight to the occasion. This was not about Armani, or Lagerfeld, or even the astonishing red carpet specially woven for the occasion – though of course they played their part; it was a deeply-felt and significant moment in the lives of the prince and princess, and in the continuing story of the Grimaldi family.
The wedding may have had all the superficial trappings of a fairytale royal wedding, but the scandals surrounding their nuptials took another turn. It was revealed that, following the couple’s civil ceremony, a senior palace official confirmed rumours that Prince Albert is likely to undergo the test after claims that he has fathered a third child.
The French news agency France Press said anonymous officials spoke of “the truth” of a reported falling out between the couple earlier in the week and of a probable demand that Prince Albert take a paternity test. Albert already has a six-year-old son, Alexandre, through a former Togolese air hostess, Nicole Coste, and a 19-year-old daughter, Jazmin, with Tamara Rotola, an American estate agent.
But according to Monaco law, none of Albert’s illegitimate children will have a claim to the throne under Monaco law, a source said. “Even if a third or even a fourth child is confirmed Albert will not have an official heir until Princess Charlene bears him one,” he added.
Public, the French magazine, claimed that Prince Albert fathered “two new illegitimate children” and one is understood to be 18 months old and the son of an Italian woman who is preparing to take her story to the press.Other publications, including Voici, have suggested that Miss Coste could have had a second baby to the Prince. The 40-year old raised eyebrows on Thursday when she was pictured in Monte Carlo on the eve of the wedding.
But in spite of all the rumours Monaco still basked in glittering pomp and majesty. Red and white flags, the colours of the principality, were draped from windows of the world’s second smallest state’s luxury high-rises, along with the colours of South Africa. And Princess Charlene didn’t disappoint as her father walked her down the red-carpeted aisle of the palace courtyard, transformed into a vast, open-air cathedral.
Approximately 800 guests gave the 33-year-old South African a standing ovation as she walked into the main courtyard in a spectacular veiled white silk dress with a five-metre train, preceded by a gaggle of bridesmaids. Designed by Italian designer Giorgio Armani, the dress was studded in crystal and pearl, taking 2,500 hours to prepare. The embroidery alone took 700 hours, and “kilometres” of platinum-coated thread were sewn into 130 metres of off-white silk. It bore 40,000 Swarovski crystals, 20,000 mother of pearl teardrops, and 30,000 “stones in gold shades” arranged in floral patterns.
Prince Albert wore the cream summer uniform of Monaco’s palace guards, its sleeves embroidered with oak and olive leaves and the front fastened with monogrammed golden buttons. His chest was emblazoned with medals representing the Order of Saint Charles, the Order of Grimaldi and France’s Legion of Honour, while his rigid fabric cap bore a rosette representing the Crown of Monaco.
The ceremony was watched by the kings of Spain, Sweden, Lesotho and Belgium; the presidents of France, Iceland, Ireland, Lebanon, Malta, Germany and Hungary. Guest list included Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, whose fashion house made the bride’s sky blue civil wedding suit. Also present were supermodel Naomi Campbell, dressed in green, American soprano Renee Fleming and former James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore in large dark glasses. [via Daily Mail (UK) and The Telegraph (UK)]