As you may remember, Prince Albert of Monaco is due to marry Charlene Wittstock this Saturday. I get that not many people are excited about it, but I love a good royal wedding, and the House of Grimaldi is fascinating to me. I recently covered Charlene Wittstock’s Vogue interview – I found her to be interesting… and perhaps a bit vapid, but I think a strong vein of superficiality probably helps royal brides. Anyway, there’s a SCANDAL involving the upcoming nuptials. According to a French newspaper, Charlene tried to pull a runner. Seriously!
A desperate Charlene Wittstock, 33, was said to have been stopped by police at Nice airport as she tried to head home to South Africa on a one-way ticket, according to a French newspaper. According to L’Express, one of France’s most influential news magazines, she had been devastated to hear a new revelation about the private life of the notoriously philandering Albert, 53.
An article headed ‘Albert-Charlene: Marriage in Peril’ on the website of L’ Express describes Miss Wittstock’s decision to head for the airport last Tuesday. It reads: ‘Shaken, Charlene Wittstock had just learned, a few hours earlier, that the private life of the man she was about to marry, and who had publicly confessed, in September 2005, to the existence of an illegitimate child with Nicole Coste, was not as exemplary as she imagined.’
In the article, which has been followed up by authoritative French newspapers including Le Figaro, L’Express claims that the French police were acting on the orders of the Royal Palace in Monaco, and managed to persuade Miss Wittstock not to leave. A member of the Pastor family, a billionaire property developing dynasty, was called in as an intermediary, the magazine claims. The report went on to say that the former Olympic swimmer and daughter of a photocopier salesman, will reluctantly stay but possibly not fulfill all her official functions as princess. It was even claimed she was ‘openly sulking’ on a trip to Paris last week.
[From The Mail]
Those were the claims – and they weren’t made in some French tabloid, either. I love the idea that in this, our modern world, where these kinds of weddings have become media spectaculars, with millions and millions of dollars spent on preparations, and after countless interviews and press releases and all of that, a would-be royal bride thinks that she can just grab her bag and a one-way ticket and get the hell out of town. If it’s true, that is. Because after these stories came out, Prince Albert and the royal courtiers denied the story outright to anyone who would listen:
Forget the story that just days before her wedding to Prince Albert of Monaco this weekend, bride-to-be Charlene Wittstock attempted to escape the impending nuptials, as French news sources have been claiming.
According to the website of the news magazine L’Express, last week Albert’s fiancée sought to return home to South Africa “only hours after learning that Albert had not been leading the exemplary life she thought.”
Only Christiane Stahl, a chief advisor to Prince Albert at the Monaco Palace, told PEOPLE on Tuesday morning that these rumors – and the printed story – are “completely, completely crazy.”
“Please believe me, none of this is true, and we think it comes from utter jealousy,” Stahl said. “Charlene never left to go to the airport, nothing like that ever happened. She was never upset and never wanted to stop the wedding.” Stahl said both Charlene and Albert were “very disappointed” when they heard the rumors but are “very calm.”
Albert’s longtime lawyer, Maitre Thierry Lacoste, also addressed the printed rumor, and told the newspaper Le Figaro, “It’s madness, everything is false. It’s been three weeks these rumors have been running.”
Lacoste said he intends to seek an injunction against L’Express. He also said, “I was with the Prince and Charlene Wittstock in Paris three days ago, and I can promise you that all is well.”
Wittstock with Maria Shriver
Last weekend, Wittstock, a former Olympic swimmer, represented Monaco at the official opening of the Athens 2011 Special Olympic Games, which was also attended by Maria Shriver, whose family started the Special Olympics.
While citing no specific reason for her reputed hasty departure – beyond that it was “‘rooted in a revelation” L’Express claimed that in her flight a distraught Wittstock was eventually stopped at the French airport, where officials were acting on a request from the royal palace.
The news magazine does remind readers that Albert publicly confessed in September 2005 to having an illegitimate child, a son, with Togolese flight attendant Nicole Coste. In 2006, he also acknowledged having fathered a daughter out of wedlock, Jazmin Grace Rotolo, born in 1992.
In its official statement, the palace said: “The Prince’s Palace firmly denies the allegations made in the press this morning on the web site Express.fr. These rumors spread a few days before the wedding ceremonies of H.S.H Prince Albert and Miss Charlene Wittstock have only one purpose to seriously damage the Sovereign’s image and by consequence that of Miss Wittstock and to cause serious prejudice to a happy event.”
NOTHING TO SEE HERE. That’s basically what they’re saying. Who to believe? Eh… considering the story originated in a French publication with a decent reputation, I tend to think they got some (at the very least) of the story right. But given Albert’s strong condemnation and all of the threats of lawsuits… I don’t know. It could be that Charlene just realized (or was “made to realize”) that she couldn’t simply pull a runner.
Do you want to hear about the guest list for the wedding? Karl Lagerfeld, Nicholas Sarkozy, Giorgio Armani, Richard Branson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and… Naomi Campbell. Who will probably beat the bride with a phone.
Photos courtesy of WENN & Vogue.