Last Friday, all of Monaco (and Europe) watched as in a matter of seconds Miss Charlene Wittstock became a Princess when she wed Prince Albert II.
The short civil ceremony was attended by 80 close friends and family members in the throne room.
Making an appearance on the balcony with the happy couple were the witnesses. Mrs. Donatella Knecht de Massy is the wife of Sebastien de Massy, Prince Albert's first cousin once removed and grandson of Princess Antoinette of Monaco. Mr. Chris Le Vine is Prince Albert’s cousin. His mother, Lizanne Le Vine, was Princess Grace’s sister.
The bride wore a pale blue jacket and palazzo pants of her own design which was created by Chanel. It was embellished with pearl and rhinestone buttons. Her hair was swept into a simple chignon and her makeup light. Simple diamond earrings graced the bride’s ears.
The jacket was later removed for the evening festivities. The strapless corset was made of delicate silk lace and the silk organza palazzo pants featured numerous pleats. She added a statement piece necklace to the ensemble.
The day of the religious ceremony dawned clear, lovely and hot!
All of Monaco was festooned with beautiful flowers as well as the flag of Monaco and South Africa, a nod to the bride’s heritage.
The invited guests began arriving two hours prior to the event. They included Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who represented Britain’s House of Windsor.
I have a feeling that the new Princess is going to age very gracefully. This is the lovely mother of the bride, Lynette Wittstock, accompanied by her two sons, Sean and Gareth.
From the grooms side of the family, Princess Stephanie and her three children, Louis, Pauline and Camille.
Princess Caroline wore Chanel couture, she was accompanied by her youngest daughter, Princess Alexandra.
Her eldest daughter, Charlotte, also in Chanel, is a truly lovely young lady.
The radiant bride soon emerged on the arm of her father, Michael Wittstock.
Accompanying Princess Charlene and her father on the bridal march were seven young bridesmaids. Although it is common for Royalty to include young family members in their wedding party, the couple broke with tradition and selected girls from Monaco and neighboring French districts. The young ladies were as follows:
Monaco: Laura Le Maux-Gramaglia
Beausoleil: Charlène Morreale
Cap d'Ail: Anaïs Cuvelliez
La Turbie: Stella Roulot
Peille: Léa Barelli
Roquebrune Cap Martin: Elina Marty
Menton: Chloé Mine
The Ballets de Monte-Carlo and Jean-Christophe Maillot, director of the ballet, designed and created the young maids traditional 18th century attire. The silk stockings worn by the girls were embroidered with the couple's monogram. The aprons also featured both the couple's monogram and the name of the area of Monaco that each girl was from. This seemingly small gesture no doubt further endeared both the Prince and new Princess into the people’s hearts.
Each dress took more than 120 hours to create. Prince Albert presented each little girl with a necklace of black velvet ribbon with a gold cross. I have to let you in on a secret, as soon as I saw these darling wee lasses I was smitten and could barely keep my eyes on the bride. They reminded me of Marie Antoinette at the Petit Hameau.
But then I viewed a close up of the bride’s bouquet and spied the magnificent hairpiece nestled into her chignon and my attention was once again captured.
The 19th century hairpiece once belonged to Prince Albert’s grandmother and was the “something borrowed” from the bride’s sister in law, Princess Caroline. It is a convertible piece of jewelry that can also be worn as two broaches.
The layered veil was made from of over 65 feet of silk tulle. Perfection!
The off -the-shoulder dress was designed and created Armani Privé. Two gowns were actually made in the event of an emergency.
The dress took three seamstresses 2,500 hours to make and was adorned with 40,000 Swarovski crystals, 20,000 mother-of-pearl teardrops and 30,000 stones in gold shades in a floral pattern enhanced with platinum covered thread embroidery.
The gown required over 164 feet of duchesse silk and over 262 feet of silk organza. The skirt flowed into a train and was topped by a longer 16 foot "à l'andrienne" train attached just under the crossed over backline of the dress.
Prince Albert II entered into the palace courtyard which had been transformed into an open air cathedral.
Prince Albert wore the cream summer uniform of the Carabiniers, Monaco’s palace guards. His sleeves and epaulettes were embroidered with gold oak and olive leaves. Gold buttons featured the Prince's monogram. The medals worn on the jacket included the Order of Saint Charles, the Order of Grimaldi, and the French Legion of Honor.
He was soon met at the base of the marble steps by his beautiful bride.
The ceremony was a 90 minute full traditional Catholic Mass. Although most of the ceremony was conducted in French, a few readings were given in English and Afrikaans (one of the native languages of South Africa).
The best behaved seven year olds I have seen in a very long time. Darling!
The couple have a moment of prayer.
Enjoying a private moment.
They were joined at the altar by their witnesses, Mr. Le Vine and Mrs. de Massy.
The couple exchanged 18-carat white gold platinum rings by Cartier.
A variety of readings were given throughout the ceremony and various music was performed by The Philharmonic Orchestra of Monaco and the Choir of the Opera of Monte-Carlo, Renée Fleming, soprano, Pumeza Matshikiza, soprano, Juan Diego Flórez, tenor. The quartet of soloists for the elements of the mass composed by Mozart was made up of Lisa Larsson, soprano, Wiebke Lehmkuhl, alto, Kenneth Tarver, tenor and Alexander Vinogradov, basso. The Choir of the Cathedral of Monaco and the Little Singers of Monaco (founded originally by Prince Rainier) were under the direction of Pierre Debat, the Chapel Master of the Cathedral of Monaco and of the Prince’s Palace. The Grand Organ was played by Olivier Vernet, lead organist at the Cathedral of Monaco. The Choir Organ was played by Jean-Cyrille Gandillet. My favorite portion of the musical program was “Ave Maria” sung by Andrea Bocelli.
You may kiss the bride!
While I had wondered if the hairpiece was indeed real diamonds, once they were uncovered and able to sparkle in the sunshine it was no longer a question.
Here is a close up of matron of honor Donatella Knecht de Massy in a pale seafoam dress.
Princess Charlene’s other matron of honor was Danish designer Isabell Kristensen seen holding her train.
As Princess Charlene had two trains, both lovely ladies were needed. Princess Charlene left it up to her friends to decide what they wanted to wear.
The brides upper 16 foot train was removed during the signing of the registry revealing a row of covered buttons.
Oh Happy Day!
This image provides a wonderful close up of the intricate embroidery of the brides gown as well as the grooms uniform and his various medals.
The Prince and his new bride drove through the streets of Monaco in a customized electric Lexus LS 600h landaulet (the top which is a convertible behind the driver).
The couple traveled to Saint Dévote Church so that the Princess could leave her wedding bouquet on the altar of the Virgin just as Princess Grace did over 55 years ago. The bouquet was designed by Armani and created by the gardeners of the Prince's Palace. It was composed of freesias, dendrobium orchids and lilies of the valley.
During the short ceremony the bride was moved to tears as Mrs. Marie-Clotilde Würz-De Baets and her 11-year old daughter Miss Juliette de Baets performed a song.
The couple then returned to the palace for the official wedding portraits. This image contained all of the visiting Royalty from various countries.
After a few hours rest the couple traveled to the Opera Garnier in Monaco for the wedding dinner and ball.
The dinner was on the open terraces with the bridal party seated in the center.
The bride changed into an Armani Privé evening gown in off-white silk chiffon. The gown had rounded neckline, four-tiered skirt and was embellished with graduated embroidery crafted with Swarovski teardrops and stones in gold and platinum colors.
All of the wedding guests were invited. Both the Prince’s sisters changed into evening gowns. Princess Caroline once again wore Chanel and transformed a diamond and sapphire necklace into a tiara.
Princess Caroline’s eldest children: Pierre Casiraghi on the left and Andrea Casiraghi on the right. Charlotte Casiraghi would have made her grandmother, Princess Grace, proud. Her powder blue Giambattista Valli gown and cape reminded me of two of the gowns worn by Grace Kelly in “To Catch a Thief” which I talked about HERE.
The five tiered cake was decorated with Proteas, South Africa's national flower. I spied Princess Charlene’s wedding gift from her groom, the Ocean convertible necklace and tiara (worn in her hair) from Van Cleef & Arpels.
All of Monaco enjoyed a spectacular fireworks show.
The newlyweds shared a quiet moment in the garden.
I will leave you with a video that shows the arrival of the newlyweds to their absolutely gorgeous reception, Prince Albert’s toast to his bride (which is in English) and the couples first dance.
May they live happily ever after.