Monaco celebrates as Prince finally weds

2011-07-01 19:28
Monaco - Monaco's Prince Albert II married South African beauty Charlene Wittstock and made her his princess on Friday, throwing open the gates of his palace to celebrate with the entire Mediterranean nation.

All 7 810 adult Monegasque subjects were invited to a buffet reception at the Grimaldis' medieval palace, overlooking the tiny tax haven's main marina, and the crowd cheered when the nervous-looking couple made their vows.

"Once again in its seven-century history the Grimaldi dynasty is opening up to a new world," declared Philippe Narmino, the chairman of Monaco's state council, as he conducted the civil ceremony.

"In joining it, mademoiselle, you are bringing the freshness of your youth, the richness of another culture, and the modernity of your gaze," he said, as Charlene - clad in a powder-blue Chanel gown and jacket - smiled shyly.

Giant screens

The throne room ceremony was transmitted to the crowds on giant screens, before the couple emerged onto a balcony, shared a brief kiss and waved to the crowd to cheers before descending to join them to cries of "Hurrah".

Well-wishers waved flags in the red and white of the Monaco royal house and the rainbow banner of South Africa and cheered the couple, in what some saw as a national sigh of relief after many years of waiting.

"We've been waiting for this marriage for quite a while," said a 30-year-old onlooker, herself to marry next month. "It's a modern marriage, international, not dynastic. He chose someone simple, and discreet, like us."

Following Friday's civil ceremony and celebrations for the Monaco people, the couple were to wed again on Saturday in a Catholic religious ceremony attended by fellow royals and stars from fashion and showbusiness.

Image boost

Now the local elite hopes the wedding, and the accompanying feast days, will give the Grimaldi image a boost, just as the year's previous royal wedding in London gave the British monarchy a much-needed shot in the arm.

"This marriage will complete the image of the principality, allow the wider public to see beyond the cliches," Monaco tourism chief Michel Bouquier told reporters. "We are going to astonish, and astonish by giving pleasure."

Later in the evening the crowd was to head to the port for a braai, a traditional barbecue in swimming champ Charlene's homeland, and drinks with thousands of the wealthy foreign residents who live in the principality.

A pink beer brewed with cranberries has been produced by Monaco's own small brewery, and entertainment was to be provided by sexagenarian electropop pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre and a massive waterfront sound and light show.

Bouquier said the wedding budget had been doubled to $12m, but the principality hopes to generate much more in tourist revenue and has laid on extra trains from France.


  • vis vang - 2011-07-01 20:31

    A philandering dictator's getting married. Why isn't anybody calling for his ouster?

      thetruth - 2011-07-01 20:53

      A philandering dictator and a gold digger make the perfect couple.

      OZNOB - 2011-07-01 22:05

      HE IS NOT A SEX MANIAC - all you have to do is ask his children

      castle lager - 2011-07-02 08:18

      wow a wedding costing R500 million guess many are dreaming they have been involved for over 10 years so why is she called a GOLD DIGGER????

      Benny66 - 2011-07-02 09:57

      TheTruth?? "a gold digger??" That's a bit harsh don't you think?

  • ZACommentator - 2011-07-01 22:15

    She ain't nothing but a gold digger, so she ain't messing with no broke ...... she got herself a good one, an old rich one

      Benny66 - 2011-07-02 09:59

      It's amazing how some people can jump to a completely unfounded conclusion; NEVER having anything good to say of others prefering to slander folk without good reason!

  • Ross - 2011-07-02 07:52

    I don't think her life is going to be sunshine and roses. The whole family resides in that not too big palace/dormitary. The worn-out sisters and husbands might make her life a misery.

      Benny66 - 2011-07-02 10:00

      And then might not - ever thought of that?

  • carinx - 2011-07-02 10:18

    omg why don't all of you just go slit your wrists and get it over with? it has become a real drag to read these comments lately, coming from silly people with a great need to share their deprived and negative attitudes with the world. i hate to think what kind of contributions you make to your families and society, always bickering and snorting about everything!

      fishycraig - 2011-07-02 10:57

      Well said carinx. Are these people so depressed with their lot in life that they have to go degrading something that, thankfully, has nothing to with them. But lets not irritate them too much - I am sure their wives, kids and dogs will bear the brunt.

  • Syndrome - 2011-07-02 10:35

    Charlene's made her choice. Everyone knows that Albert has a skew moral compass. Even if he was a nice guy, royalty is a massive stress and a gilded cage of note. If she's unhappy its her own fault.

  • Sandy001 - 2011-07-02 11:25

    ooop"s whats he hiding in the cupboard, amazing these stories come out, should be interesting to hear if there is any truth, will it last. !!!!!!!!!!!!

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