Winks and shy smiles as Monaco’s prince marries his princess

WITH a wink and a smile, Monaco’s ruler Prince Albert married South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock on Saturday in a ceremony attended by a who’s who of European royalty and the international elite.

The 53-year-old married Wittstock, 33, in the courtyard of his palace at the foot of a vast white-marble double staircase lined with white flowers. Some 3,500 guests sat outside to watch the service on giant TV screens.

Albert’s sisters, Princesses Caroline and Stephanie, both dressed in pink, smiled as they watched the couple marry in front of a crowd that included French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld and opera singer Renee Fleming.

The long white train of Wittstock’s Giorgio Armani duchess satin gown, encrusted with thousands of tiny crystals, spilled over the red carpet. The groom wore the white dress uniform of Monaco’s Carabinieri royal guard.

“It was very elegant, very moving,” supermodel Naomi Campbell, in a one-shouldered pale green dress, told TFI television.

After they exchanged vows, Albert winked at his bride, who smiled shyly. Sitting on red velvet chairs, they held hands as a South African singer sang the Click Song.

The wedding is the first of a ruling prince in Monaco since Albert’s father, Prince Rainier III, married Hollywood star Grace Kelly in 1956.

Just days ago, rumours of discontent threatened to mar the festivities. The palace strongly denied a report in the French weekly L’Express that Wittstock tried to skip town on a one-way flight to South Africa, and that it took “infinite persuasion” by the prince and his entourage to change her mind.

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