Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Monaco Palace: Prince Albert to marry Charlene Wittstock

For years, many royal watchers in Monaco have had but one problem with the fairytale principality on the Riviera. Though they had two beautiful princesses, Caroline and Stephanie, who had bore six legitimate heirs to the throne between them and the continuation of independent rule from France was all but secure, their heir to the throne - and subsequent Sovereign Prince after the death of Prince Rainier III in 2005 - Albert remained unmarried and without legitimate heirs of his own. Many hoped that someday soon, Albert would finally marry and settle down to a steady relationship. Well at last the wait is over: Prince Albert II of Monaco, who has spent many of his 52 years in bachelorhood, is engaged. Just five days after Albert and Charlene attended the romantic wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling together, which many had predicted to be a signal of Albert and Charlene's impending nuptials, the Monaco Palace officially announced the engagement of Prince Albert II of Monaco to Charlene Wittstock in a communique released at lunchtime today (12:23PM, 23 June 2010). The statement said that the engagement between the two was announced on Wednesday but indicated no date for the wedding.

Laetitia Pierrat, a palace spokeswoman, said that Albert had met his future bride in Monaco in 2000, when she had attended a swimming competition in the tiny principality. Whilst the pair briefly dated, Charlene returned to South Africa to continue her swimming career. It seems fate, however, had different plans. They reconnected at a New Year's Eve party in Cape Town, South Africa and hit it off, restarting their relationship. "There was a glint in his eye," says a former associate of the Prince. "It suggested she meant more to him than most women." But asked whether Charlene might be pregnant, Pierrat said: "Honestly, I don't think so." She added that she wasn't privy to such private matters but said had Wittstock been pregnant, an official announcement would likely have been made. Pierrat said that according to protocol, royal couples must wait at least six months between announcing their engagement and their wedding day.

Royal watchers are reveling in the news. "It's been 30 years since Grace died, 30 years they've been waiting for a First Lady, a princess, a dream beauty, glam. And voila!" said Colombe Pringle, executive editor of the French celebrity magazine Point de Vue, which covers Albert's private life regularly. Pringle told the Associated Press that she hasn't heard any rumours that Wittstock might already be pregnant but she added, "Obviously, there is going to be an heir."

While his father's reign was defined by his marriage to Princess Grace, Albert was known for being a longtime bachelor - so much so that Parliament in 2002 changed the constitution to allow one of his sisters' sons to take the throne if he never produces an heir. Pringle suggested that Albert's advancing age, and the long time since his mother's passing, meant that the time was right for him to give up bachelorhood. "He's 50-something. It's time," she said. She said Wittstock has spent their years together preparing for this. "She has learned a lot, she has done a good personal job to fit with her job, there are many years of learning there behind her. Now it's a question of involvement and engagement in her new role. We'll see how she does," Pringle said. "She really wanted the job."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Albert & Charlene take Stockholm

After his quick trip through Kenya, Prince Albert and girlfriend Charlene Wittstock headed to Stockholm to attend the pre-wedding celebrations of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and her fiance Daniel Westling. Gearing up to the wedding on Saturday, a dinner was held at Eric Ericsson Hall and later a gala concert at Stockholm Concert Hall. Albert and Charlene, in a grey Armani crepe gown and wearing a sheer wrap in oh-so-now gunmetal grey, greeted Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and his wife Filippa, as well as King Carl-Gustav and Queen Silvia of Sweden as they arrived at the dinner. This afternoon (June 19) Albert and Charlene are expected to attend the wedding of Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling, which you can catch here live, with coverage be ginning at 1PM CET. Check out the full galleries of pre-wedding celebrations online:

Princess Caroline for World Refugee Day

Princess Caroline attended a conference in Monaco yesterday (June 18) in honour of World Refugee Day. Organised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Monaco Department of International Cooperation, and held at the Fairmont Hotel the conference aimed to promote the plight of refugees worldwide. The princess delivered the opening speech and attended the signing of a cooperation agreement between UNHCR, represented by Francisco Galindo Velez and Monaco, represented by Franck Biancheri. Antonio Gutteres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, also spoke at the conference via video message

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Prince Albert Drops in on President Kibaki, Champions Environmental Awareness

Prince Albert took a break from hanging out at the FIFA World Cup to pay a visit to Kenya. Whilst there he dropped in on President Mwai Kibaki for a quick chat. During the meeting, President Kibaki hailed Prince Albert II for supporting environmental and peace initiatives in Kenya and thanked Monaco for supporting the Green Africa Foundation in Kitui and the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation in Kapenguria which have helped in environmental conservation and promoted peace initiatives in the country. President Kibaki also welcomed the appointment of Mr. Shahnawaz Murji as Honorary Consul of Monaco to Kenya, saying the move signified Monaco's commitment to strengthening her relations with Kenya.

On his part, Albert reiterated his personal commitment to working towards enhancing the existing relations between Monaco and Kenya. The Prince expressed optimism that the two countries will exploit more areas of mutual cooperation for the benefit of their citizens.

Another stop on Albert's journey before he heads to Sweden for the for the four day wedding celebrations of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling saw him visit the Kitui district where he urged Kenyans to plant more trees as a means of mitigating climate change. Albert, through his Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, is a partner of Green Africa Foundation which has been encouraging local communities in Kitui, Lamu, Meru and Kajido to plant the Jatropha tree for bio-fuel and as a means of preventing climate change. During the visit, which was also attended by the Director of Kenya Forest Service D.K. Mbugua, Albert said, "I am happy to see what is happening here. What I have seen here is real. These are not abstract ideas. It's happening and people's lives are being improved through the adoption of green technology".

And Albert's busy schedule just never stops. As I said above, tonight (June 16) Albert will attend the gala dinner held by the County Governors on the ship Götheborg in Skeppsholmen as part of the wedding celebrations of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling.

Charlotte Casiraghi Patroness of New Monaco Pro-Am Cup

Charlotte Casiraghi has been named as patroness of the Monaco Pro-Am Cup, making it's debut this year at the International Jumping de Monte-Carlo. The competition, held after the competitions for world ranking, pairs fourteen professional riders with an amateur rider and will no doubt generate even more excitement in the build-up to the highlight, the Grand Prix du Prince on the final evening of competition.
Charlotte will competing with Edwina Alexander (AUS) for Gucci on a course made specifically by Frank Rothenberger. Each winner will receive a watch from Piaget's new collection. Check out the full list of teams competing in the Pro-Am Cup below.