From an alleged love child to a potential runaway bride, rumors have made Monaco’s royal wedding more farce than fairy tale.
The union of 33-year-old Charlene Wittstock and 53-year-old Prince Albert of Monaco went forward today at the royal palace, with guests including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, James Bond star Roger Moore, supermodel Naomi Campbell, Virgin tycoon Richard Branson and fashion designers Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani. (Prince William and Kate Middleton declined their invitation because of their royal Canadian tour.)
The statuesque former Olympic swimmer wed her paramour at a civil ceremony at the palace on Friday afternoon, and then was set to head outside for a picnic and an electropop concert by Jean Michel Jarre. On Saturday, the couple will hold a religious wedding in the Catholic Church and round out the evening with an official dinner and fireworks.
The elaborate ceremony marched forward despite rumors that the playboy prince fathered a third love child. (Prince Albert has already fathered two illegitimate children: Alexandre, 6, and Jazmin, 19.)
(PHOTOS: A Royal Wedding in Monaco)
French newspapers delighted in the scandal, claiming that Wittstock had tried to flee Monaco for her home country of South Africa, but that police confiscated her passport at the Nice airport to stop her leaving. (Romantic!) Meanwhile, royal confidante Stephane Bern says Albert simply doesn’t have time to organize a DNA test before the $88 million wedding.
The couple has vehemently denied all rumors, and made a show of unity at an Eagles concert on Thursday night. Meanwhile, residents of Monaco breathed a sign of relief that all went as planned – if Albert fails to produce a legitimate heir, the Grimaldis will have to cede their tiny principality to France. Tax haven, adieu.