Monday, July 4, 2011


Prince Albert II of Monaco and his South African bride, Princess Charlene, married in a religious ceremony on Saturday, solemnising their union in front of 800 royal and celebrity guests.

Arrayed in a stunning Armani gown cut from 130 metres of silk and studded with 40,000 crystals, the world's newest royal stole occasional smiling glances at her husband during the ceremony, which followed Friday's civil wedding.

Archbishop Bernard Barsi of Monaco asked each whether they accepted each other “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part.” Both replied with a firm: “Yes.”

 Then the couple — Princess Charlene, noticeably less tense than she had been at the first ceremony, and occasionally smiling — exchanged rings in 18-carat white gold and platinum by the House of Cartier.

South African singer Pumela Matshikiza celebrated with a popular, upbeat wedding song from the Princess' homeland: “Diviner of the roadways, the knock knock beetle / It just passed by here, the knock knock beetle.”

Some 800 guests attended the service in the palace, and another 3,800 were outside watching on a large screen, cheering as popular guests like James Bond actor Roger Moore and the former French First Lady, Bernadette Chirac, arrived.

Aside from French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the kings and queens of Sweden and Belgium, the crowd included fashion designers, models, sportsmen, more minor royals and senior officials from the tiny principality.

Throughout the ceremony, which lasted an hour and a half, both bride and groom wore demure expressions, their eyes mostly downcast. Only as they took their vows and exchanged rings did the solemn facade crack: As they slipped on the 18 carat white gold Cartier rings onto each other's fingers, Albert — in a white military uniform — shot her a wink, and Charlene cracked a broad, sincere smile.

As the couple left the palace, arm in arm, he in his cream officer's uniform, the bells of the principalities' many churches rang and guests showered them with rose petals.

The tears flowed freely down the new princess' face after the ceremony, as she left her bouquet of lilies of the valley and other white blossoms at the Sainte Devote church — a tradition in Monaco.

The five-tier cake was exceptional and dwarfed the couple as they stood next to it and prepared to cut a much smaller version for their guests. Always keen to pay homage to her roots, Princess Charlene ensured the cake was also decorated with Proteas, South Africa’s national flower.

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