July 3, 2011 in Nation/World

Monaco’s Albert, Charlene wed in religious ceremony

Jenny Barchfield Associated Press
Associated Press photo

This image taken from television shows Charlene, Princess of Monaco, during the wedding service to Prince Albert II of Monaco on Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

MONACO – Monaco’s Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene promised each other love and fidelity in an extravagant religious wedding Saturday attended by international celebrities and royalty, bringing new allure to the tiny principality known for its luxurious casinos and as stomping ground for the rich and famous.

The Catholic service followed an intimate civil ceremony Friday, which saw Charlene officially transformed from commoner into royalty. The marriage of the 53-year-old prince and the 33-year-old Charlene Wittstock, a one-time Olympic swimmer from South Africa who is now known as Princess Charlene, ended a three-decade wait for a new princess.

The last wedding of a ruling prince in Monaco was in 1956, when Hollywood star Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III.

Saturday’s ceremony was attended by guests including former James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and bohemian designer Roberto Cavalli, of Italy. Thousands of Monegasque citizens cheered the proceedings while watching on large screens set up outside the palace.

Charlene was born in Zimbabwe but moved to neighboring South Africa as a child, and under the tutelage of her mother, a swim coach, she competed for that country at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Albert – also a former Olympic athlete, having competed in five Winter Olympics as part of Monaco’s bobsled team – has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1985.

Albert and Charlene met during a 2000 swimming competition in Monaco. She then began appearing regularly at social events and moved to Monaco in 2006.

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