Monaco royal wedding: A loving kiss for Albert and his radiant princess-bride

It had been 55 years since a new sovereign princess had greeted the people of Monaco from the palace balcony.

And the atmosphere in the Cour d'Honneur, the main courtyard, was nothing short of electric, with the citizens eagerly awaiting the first public appearance of their prince and his bride - a couple whose road to matrimony had taken over a decade.

"We need to dream and this is the perfect occasion to do so," explained one excited young woman.

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And the presentation of the sylph-like South African, who swam to glory in the Olympics, as the newest member of the ancient Grimaldi dynasty was indeed the stuff of dreams.

As the clock edged nearer to the allotted moment, the first notes of 'Princess Charlene's Anthem' rang out across the courtyard. 

The specially composed fanfare was played by the 24 musicians of the Palace Guard's brass band. Four silver trumpets had been crafted for the occasion. Longer than normal, they proudly flew regal banners commemorating the marriage.

Then, as one, all eyes turned expectantly upwards. 

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At 6pm, the window of the Salon des Graces – the Hall of Mirrors - flung open and Albert and Charlene of Monaco stepped out to greet the enthusiastic crowds.

Moments after becoming husband and wife in a beautiful civil ceremony, the glowing newlyweds stood hand in hand, waving to the thousands of well-wishers gathered below.

As the princess joined her beloved on the balcony, the newlyminted couple's official monogram was proudly displayed on screens around the courtyard, which had earlier broadcast their nuptials live from the opulent throne room.

To the delight of the throng - who had greeted the moment they said "Oui" with cries of joy - the pair then shared a loving kiss, before Charlene tenderly rested her head on her groom's shoulder.

Cheers rang out again. Below them the square was an unending sea of red and white - the colours of Monaco - and the green, yellow, blue, black, white and red of the South African flag.

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