Prince Albert, wife formally tie the knot
South African Charlene Wittstock weds Prince in Catholic ceremony
One-time Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock and Prince Albert II of Monaco tied the knot in a star-studded religious ceremony Saturday, a day after their civil wedding.
The couple exchanged 18-carat white gold platinum rings by Cartier. As Albert slipped the ring onto her finger, he winked, and as she put his on, she burst out into a broad smile.
The bride appeared to tear up behind the veil as the South African took her place at the altar inside the princely palace where the Catholic ceremony was taking place. Charlene wore an off-the-shoulder gown by Giorgio Armani, and a long veil.
VIP guests including Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, former James Bond actor Roger Moore and former French first lady Bernadette Chirac joined European royals, heads of state, top models and world-class athletes streaming up the red carpet and into the palace.
A crowd of thousands followed the festivities on giant screens just outside the palace, breaking into cheers as French musician Jean Michelle Jarre swept by.
Others converging on the Renaissance palace, where Monaco's ruling Grimaldi dynasty has resided for centuries, included French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, U.S. soprano Renee Fleming and Giorgio Armani, the Italian designer who made Charlene's wedding gown.
More than 2,500 hours of work, 80 metres of silk and 40,000 Swarovski crystals went into the gown, the palace said.
Celebrated French-born chef Alain Ducasse prepared a multi-course dinner for 450 guests.
Ducasse, who like many in his tax bracket has taken citizenship in Monaco, is the first chef to earn three Michelin stars in three different cities, including three for his Louis XV restaurant in Monaco. He has said freshly caught fish and vegetables grown on Albert's farm will be on the menu. A fireworks extravaganza will follow.
Already married on Friday
The couple was married in an intimate civil service on Friday inside the prince's palace. Albert's sisters, Princesses Caroline and Stephanie, were among several dozen guests at Friday's ceremony, which was held in the palace's sumptuous throne room where the prince's father, the late Rainier III, wed Hollywood legend Grace Kelly in 1956.
The blond beauty died in a car crash nearly 30 years ago, and this tiny principality on the Riviera had been without a princess ever since. Known as a notorious ladies man, 53-year-old Albert long eschewed marriage, and many in Monaco had resigned themselves to forever having a bachelor prince.
The prince acknowledged having fathered two children out of wedlock, but only his legitimate offspring would be able to succeed him. Rumours have swirled in recent days that a third illegitimate child had surfaced, prompting Charlene to allegedly try to call off the wedding and return to South Africa days before the festivities.
The palace has denied the reports, dismissing them as "ugly rumours" prompted by spite and jealousy.
Charlene, 33, has told interviewers she would like to have children.
Only Monaco's fewer than 8,000 citizens and their partners were allowed access to the Rocher, the rocky promontory presided over by the palace, to follow Saturday's service on two giant screens. .