|Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene after their wedding. Image: Reuters|
The royal wedding of Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock was a magical day that evoked some poignant memories in Monaco. As the breathtaking blonde bride stood at the ornate altar in the Palais Princier, royal observers couldn’t help thinking back to the principality’s last wedding of a reigning sovereign in April 1956, when the beautiful actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III and became a Princess.
The glamorous screen legend would surely have been overjoyed to see her son, Prince Albert, wed as elegant and poised a young woman as South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock. And it would have moved the late royal couple to see their own nuptials reenacted decades later, bringing new love to the palace, and ushering in a new era for the Grimaldi dynasty.
But in the absence of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier, Monegasque celebrated for them, gathering to watch the ceremony on giant TV’s throughout Monaco and erupting in cheers as Albert and Charlene exchanged vows in a lavish, multimillion-dollar spectacle that will go down in the Mediterranean enclave’s history.-->
On July 2, 2011—a day after the couple of five years were legally married in a civil ceremony at the Prince’s Palace—Charlene, 33, was ready to don her wedding dress for the 90-minute Roman Catholic ceremony. At 5 pm, she entered the palace in an off white silk duchesse satin Giorgio Armani Prive gown, its delicate floral pattern embroidered with 90,000 pearl drops, Swarowski crystals and gems. The statuesque beauty held a bouquet of freesias, orchids and lilies of the valley.
Followed by seven bridesmaids—all wearing the nation’s traditional flower girl costume—Charlene made her way down the aisle with her father, Michael, approaching the double spiral staircase in the 17th century Courtyard of Honour.
The well-heeled congregation of 850 royals, dignitaries and celebrities leaped to their feet clapping, and Charlene’s husband-to-be, 53, looking dashing in a white summer uniform of the Palace Guards, elicited chuckles from the crowd as he peeked backwards to steal a glimpse of his bride. Sir Paul McCartney’s “Standing Stone,” sung by opera singers Lisa Larson and Kenneth Tarver, filled the space.
Charlene joined her prince at the foot of the spectacular staircase, carved from a single block of Carrara marble, and the pair took their places on the scarlet damask stools in front of the altar, which had been consecrated for the occasion. As the couple’s proud families looked on – including Albert’s sisters, Princesses Caroline and Stephanie – the prince’s nieces Pauline Ducruet and Charlotte Casiraghi delivered readings.
By the time the Archbishop of Monaco, His grace Bernard Barsi, made his stirring address, the emotion in the room was palpable. The couple exchanged vows – each affirming their lifelong commitment with a heartfelt “Oui” – and they were pronounced husband and wife. After the bride and groom exchanged 18-karat white gold platinum Cartier rings, a traditional South African marriage song was performed and communion was taken. Albert the lifted his new wife’s veil and kiss her.
Amid much applause, the delighted groom punched the air in celebration, his look expressing what he would later say to his bride in his wedding speech: “Thank you for allowing me to share my life with you.” Andrea Bocelli then sang “Ave Maria,” and the newly-weds signed the marriage register and left the palace arm in arm, while the elated crowds showered them with white rose petals.
Custom dictates that the bride place her bouquet at the feet of the principality’s patron saint, and as she did so as at the picturesque Church of Sainte-Devote, joyful tears streamed down her face. Charlene had her prince, and Monaco had its new princess.About the Author:
Christian George Acevedo loves to write about everything. He has authored hundreds of articles for various websites, and his expertise ranges from online marketing and finance to history and entertainment. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Tumblr.