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Monaco royal wedding: 'We are marrying off the prince we watched grow up'

To the outside world, Prince Albert of Monaco has been many things: a playboy trailed by models, an heir lavished with attention, an Olympic sportsman and more latterly a serious sovereign concerned with world affairs and the environment.

On the streets of Monaco  the view is more simple. He is one of them and someone they have followed closely from birth, watching him develop from a sweet blue-eyed boy into a man.

In the world's second smallest independent state, he and his sisters Caroline and Stephanie were known simply as ' the little ones'.

As one long-time resident put it in her motherly way: "The prince is not getting married. Rather we are marrying off our prince."


How proud then they must have been to see the 53-year-old head of the Grimaldi house arrive for his second wedding ceremony looking authoritative in the smart white summer uniform of the Palace Guards - the Carabiniers, founded in 1817 to protect the royal family.

His sleeves were embroidered with oak and olive leaves and the front fastened with monogrammed golden buttons.

His chest was was emblazoned with medals representing the Order of Saint Charles, the Order of Grimaldi and France's Legion of Honour.

Greeted by His Grace Bernard Barsi, Archbishop of Monaco, with a warm smile and handshake, the prince paused before making his way to the marble altar at the foot of the impressive 17th century double staircase.

Along the way he smiled and winked at friends and family gathered to share in the special occasion.


Albert arrived at the altar shortly before Charlene, breaking with a long-standing tradition that has seen the brides of sovereign princes await their grooms.

The focus of the beautifully arranged ceremony was a marble altar specially assembled for the occasion, in front of which were placed two ornate seats for the newlyweds.

And with the Archbishop officiating, he prepared to pledge himself to the woman his fellow citizens hope will help secure the succession.


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