The eyes of the world are turning to the Principality of Monaco as Prince Albert II marries South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock. The £55 million celebrations surrounding the wedding – which included a concert by The Eagles on Thursday night – are hoped will rival the 1956 wedding of Albert’s mother, Hollywood star Grace Kelly, and his father, Prince Rainier.
Friday’s civil wedding will be followed a day later by a religious ceremony at the royal palace on the Mediterranean.
The guest list includes heads of state and royalty, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and supermodel Naomi Campbell. South Africa Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk will represent President Jacob Zuma who is at an African Union assembly session in Equatorial Guinea.
Wittstock will become Her Serene Highness, Princess Charlene.
The palace has vehemently denied reports in the French press that the former swimmer was getting cold feet about the wedding, and had tried to return to South Africa, after learning that Albert may have fathered a third love child.
“These rumours have no other goal than to severely damage the reputation of the monarch and thereby that of Miss Wittstock and severely undermine this happy event,” the palace said in a statement.
Charlene Wittstock was born in Zimbabwe’s second city of Bulawayo, moving to South Africa with her family at the age of 12.
The couple are both former Olympians – Wittsock, 33, competed in the swimming in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, whilst Albert, 53, competing in bobsleigh in five Olympics.
They met in 2000 at a swimming event in Monaco, and made their relationship public by appearing together at the Turin Winter Olympics of 2006.
Prince Albert II has been the ruler of Monaco since the death of his father, Prince Rainier III, in 2005.
The tiny principality, which covers about 2 square km (less than one square mile), is the world’s smallest independent state after the Vatican City.
Jean Michel Jarre is performing a spectacular concert-event on 1 July at Monaco’s landmark Port Hercules in presence of the newly-wed couple.
A stunning stage-set of 200m long will embrace the central stage on the port, and Jean Michel Jarre has designed a state-of-the-art show of lights, HD video effects, lasers and pyrotechnics - a high-tech visual extravaganza entirely synchronised to his music performed live with his band.
Also in Monte Carlo, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new guide to the glamorous principality.
Monaco.City.Mobi is the latest in this illustrious line up, offering click to call functionality – which means no scribbling down telephone numbers.
City.Mobi offers the most comprehensive mobile travel guides available, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed. Each is developed by the City.Mobi team to combine into a single global travel directory.
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City.Mobi guides include user reviews and traveller utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide.