Charlene Wittstock’s time has come. South Africa’s Olympic swimmer and soon to be princess of Monaco marries Prince Albert of Monaco over a two-day period, kicking off today with the civil ceremony. The Benoni beauty will become part of the European aristocracy when she joins the Grimaldi dynasty, who have run the tiny but wealthy principality for seven centuries. The civil ceremony takes place today, while the big wedding, the one in the public eye, will have television audience glued to their screens tomorrow.
Thousands are expected to line the streets when just two months after the wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the world will watch another ‘prince and commoner’ marriage take place amidst much glamorous fanfare.
The Guardian newspaper reports that Prince Albert will “will flaunt his eco credentials by staging the procession of the newlyweds in an open-top electric Lexus”, very different from the golden carriage used by Britain’s royal couple.
The Guardian quotes Alain Perceval, author of a new book on the Monaco couple, as saying Wittstock “should not” be compared to Kate Middleton either. “Charlene comes from a very humble background in South Africa, a bit rustic, she’s from an ordinary family and had a very humble life,” he said. “You simply can’t compare her to Kate Middleton, who went to prestigious schools and comes from what we would call the haute bourgeoisie.”
But of course, South Africa is enormously proud of Wittstock, who like another stunning blonde export from Benoni, Charlize Theron, has made her mark on the international stage and not just because she’s beautiful.
South African women’s magazine, Finesse, is the only SA magazine to carry an exclusive interview with Wittstock. The July issue features a royal-looking Wittstock on its cover this month as well as an interview with her. Gerinde Jooste, deputy editor, told TheMediaOnline that the interview didn’t come easily.
“It took about six to eight weeks to get the correct contact information and then we sent emails requesting her to be featured on our cover. I must admit that it was quite a process,” Jooste said.
Their persistence paid off and the photograph by Ruven Afanador, through photo agency Corbis, is a stunner. “Ruven did a photo shoot with Charlene for the UK Tatler. We are the only publication who will be using the photos of that shoot (apart from the UK Tatler),” said Jooste.
“We sent Charlene some questions to answer and the rest of the article was done by our journalist who interviewed friends, family and did research on Charlene. We had to send the article for approval to her press managers,” she added. “We were very happy when Charlene agreed to let us feature her – she also indicated that we’re the only SA publication who got approval from her to do it. The most striking thing that came out of the interview was how much she loves the prince– and the admiration she has for him,” she said.
The New Age reports that South African guests include Talk Radio 702 host and author Jenny Crwys-Williams, fashion designers Abigail Betz and Vesselina Pentcheva, fashion stylist Sheldon Kopman and Top Billing presenter and former Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss.
USA Today claims the only foreign royalty expected is South African prince, Leruo Molotlegi of the Kingdom of Bakofeng in South Africa.
The religious ceremony on Saturday will take place in the palace courtyard with 3 500 guests including designers Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani (who designed the wedding gown), soprano Renee Flemingand and Olympian gymnast Nadia Comaneci.
According to USA Today, supermodels such as Naomi Campell and Karolina Kurkov will attend, as well as the richest man in France, Bernard Arnault, who is the CEO of LVMH. Also expected is Italian designer Roberto Cavalli, whose yacht often plies the waters off Monaco and the Cote d’Azur.
Viewers will be able to watch the wedding live on SABC 3 tomorrow from 2.30pm.
The broadcaster will also air an exclusive interview with Wittstock on the channel’s weekly magazine show Top Billing as a primer to the wedding broadcast.