Entertainment

Prince Albert of Monaco to Marry Charlene Wittstock

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Prince Albert of Monaco is engaged to marry Charlene Wittstock, a former Olympic Swimmer for South Africa. This will provide the wealthy Mediterranean principality its first crown princess since Grace Kelly died in 1982. The palace announced the engagement of "His Serene Highness", 52, and Wittstock, 32 putting to rest months of speculation that the two longtime companions would tie the knot. Albert met Wittstock in 2000 when she traveled to Monaco for a swimming competition, said Laetitia Pierrat, a palace spokeswoman. Wittstock swam for South Africa at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 – in the All Africa Games the year before, she won gold in the 100-meter freestyle.

Since 2006, Wittstock has lived in the principality, Pierrat said. It will be the first marriage of a reigning prince since Hollywood actress Grace Kelly married Albert’s father, Prince Rainier III, to massive hoopla in 1956. Princess Grace died in a car accident in 1982. According to protocol, royal couples must wait at least six months between the announcement of the engagement and the wedding day, Pierrat said. She demurred when asked whether Wittstock might be pregnant. "Honestly, I don’t think so," she said, adding she wasn’t privy to such matters but if Wittstock were, a formal announcement would probably have been made.

"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 often covers Albert. Albert took the throne in July 2005 after the death of his strait-laced father, who built the sleepy Mediterranean port into a tax haven for the rich and encouraged Monaco to become a glittering financial center.  That same year, Albert acknowledged that he had fathered a boy, Alexandre, out of wedlock by a former flight attendant.  The following year, he acknowledged an American daughter, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, now a teenager, born to a California woman. Neither can assume the throne because they were born out of wedlock. Can we speculate that Charlene’s primary role will be to produce a child?