A look at Prince Albert & Charlene’s 2011 wedding on their belated anniversary

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Prince Albert of Monaco married then-Charlene Wittstock on July 1st, 2011. That was the private civil ceremony, and then a day later, Charlene and Albert had their big splashy church wedding. As I was going through the old photos, I was struck by how “glamorous” this Monte Carlo wedding really was – there were royals from nearly every European royal house in attendance. There were models like Naomi Campbell in attendance. There were celebrities and President Sarkozy. And yet, the whole thing did come across as kind of tacky – yes, it was shiny and glamorous, but there was a veil of cheapness around just the optics.

Of course, the story of Albert and Charlene’s wedding was big news at the time, not just because Albert was then 53 years old and this was his first marriage. It was because it was widely reported in the French and American press that Charlene had tried to escape just days before the wedding. I still remember the story – she had cold feet, or perhaps just an impending sense of doom, and she bolted. Albert’s goons apparently caught up to her quickly and they brought her back to Monaco and – this was truly reported – Albert took her passport. Allegedly!

I remember how sedated she seemed at the event for the civil wedding and then how depressed she looked for the church wedding. “The Prisoner Bride” narrative really took hold. Then Charlene started crying during one part of the wedding service and she basically stood there sobbing for several minutes.

Looking back on it, the “cover story” of “Charlene was overcome by the singing” story might have been true. Albert didn’t seem that cold to her at all – he actually seemed to ask her if she was okay as she broke down. But yeah, it definitely fed into a certain narrative!

As for her wedding gown, it was Armani Prive (even though Karl Lagerfeld was a personal friend of Prince Albert). The gown was… not great, honestly. I remember thinking that “off the shoulder” cut was not that flattering. But looking back on it, that part doesn’t bug me as much as the fit throughout the bodice. And the fabric didn’t read as luxurious on-camera, it looked like cheap sateen. Looking back on it though, I really like the fact that Charlene didn’t wear a tiara – she did have a diamond clip on one side of her (lovely) low bun, but she kept the look from the neck up very clean. Her hair and veil honestly looked gorgeous.

Thematique Charlene Wittstock Kate Middleton

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Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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35 Responses to “A look at Prince Albert & Charlene’s 2011 wedding on their belated anniversary”

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  1. Paula says:

    That kiss picture is all sorts of uncomfortable and as always, I will forever be perplexed that this is how the son of Grace Kelly (and the one most resembling her) turned out to look like.

  2. Becks1 says:

    I really liked her dress overall, but the fit was poor, in my (very humble) opinion. Her hair and makeup were perfect though.

    I fully bought into the “prisoner bride” narrative at the time as well, but I think a large part of what made that narrative take hold was Charlene’s facial expressions. And over the past 9 years, I think its clear that’s just her facial expression – its not RBF, its nicer than that, but its pretty neutral. She kind of always looks like that.

    • notasugarhere says:

      They sued the tabloid that started the runaway bride story and won a retraction. Her facial expression is mostly neutral unless she’s swimming with kids, then she lights up.

      • holly hobby says:

        Yeah looking at these pictures she didn’t look sad at all. But people focused on the sobbing and that set the whole narrative up.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I like the idea of the dress more than the dress. I don’t like that the skirt has a little flipped around train as well as the watteau train (which I love). If they’d kept the skirt train straightened out it would have looked better.

  3. Summergirl says:

    She looks deeply sad in that video and their kiss was so cold and awkward. Genuine question: why did she marry him if she felt this way?

    • notasugarhere says:

      Answer, because you’re buying into a narrative from a tabloid. She was with him for seven years, she wanted to marry him.

      • Sigmund says:

        But the body language in that kiss is awful too. She looks so tense and like she doesn’t him to touch her. I’m not saying it can’t be a coincidence, but if so, there’s multiple coincidences.

  4. Calibration says:

    Albert dated a friend of mine who said he was nothing but politeness, generosity and kindness. No joke. So I felt the kidnapped narrative weird. She’d have said if he was a manipulative dick. And she could have been a marriage candidate too,not a one night stand. She was an Olympic athlete too. But Charlene always looks miserable for whatever reason rich people might 🤷‍♀️ don’t have any sympathy

  5. Feedmechips says:

    Wasn’t this all in the aftermath of Albert’s secret love child coming to light?

    • Calibration says:

      He has a bunch of them. He’s always rode bareback. Unusual for a royal.

      • Noki says:

        It must be an unwritten rule for royal girlfriends to NOT dare get pregnant before marriage. I am quite shocked that such a prominet royal has love children .

      • Levans says:

        I always thought it was weird that only lovechild to not be allowed his last name was the black child.

      • Mary says:

        @levans, don’t know but it might have to do with the fact that the mother of the child made a huge stink from day one about how he should be Albert’s heir (which is not possible by law of succession). I don’t recall the other mothers making much of a ruckus beyond paternity suits.

      • 809Matriarch says:

        @Mary Alexandre carries Albert’s last name.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandre_Grimaldi-Coste

      • Mary says:

        @809, talk to @levans. She was the one that made the assertion about the child not having Albert’s last name. I was responding to her implication about why that might be the case. Sheeesh

  6. Cee says:

    I never bought the prisoner bride thing and she has come out multiple times to debunk that theory and has explained she just has a particular expression and is not a smiley person.
    If you see multiple photos from the wedding she looks radiant and happy in many of them. She actually smiles in many of them.
    To keep perpetuating this prisoner bride narrative just seems rude and cruel.
    Edit to add that Queen Maxima was a crying mess in her wedding too and no one accused King Willem Alexander of holding her against her will. To Maxima’s luck, she Doesn’t look miserable when she cries.

    • MissMarierose says:

      Well, I think that’s because people knew beforehand that Maxima’s dad wasn’t allowed to go and her mom stayed in Argentina in solidarity, so people knew it wasn’t Willem-Alexander’s fault.

  7. Noki says:

    She seems to be more at ease after she had the kids,she used to look like she was constantly planning her escape.lol

  8. notasugarhere says:

    Albert seemed caught up in other royal weddings, the good PR, and decided now was the time to get married. Given everyone’s schedules they ended up in too hot of a month for an outdoor wedding. The guests were visibly melting in that hot courtyard.

  9. Rhys says:

    Are we not respecting women’s decision to marry whomever they want to anymore? Do we always have to spew the conspiracy theories just because we don’t like the guy? She dated him for SEVEN years. She wanted to marry him and so she did.

  10. Digital Unicorn says:

    I always thought she seemed overwhelmed by it all, esp with all the press drama around his other love children. I took the airport story as someone who got so stressed and freaked out that she wanted to get away from it all for a bit.

  11. SJD says:

    I once read somewhere that Charlene and he kids have resting wistful face and I really subscribe to that line of thought.

    Pumeza Matshikiza (the incredible South African soprano who sang as a surprise though not in the video you shared) is currently in hospital with Coronavirus in Germany. I hope she’s well soon! I was just listening to her album yesterday and thinking about this moment, I’m glad you shared it.

  12. Priscila Bezerra-Fischer says:

    Not gonna lie, I would have cried too with the beautiful song being sung so impressively.

  13. Seraphina says:

    She always seemed so sad. Who knows why. Her tiara that he had made for her is beautiful with so much thought put into it. And the little girls in the hats (in the pics) are just adorable. And yes, the dress looks cheap. But she is beautiful and nothing can take that from her.

    • notasugarhere says:

      He had two tiaras designed for her as wedding gifts. One with diamonds and sapphires in a circular, ocean wave motif. The other is more of a headband with a water spray motif. I don’t like the first one, I do like the second as a modern tiara interpretation.

  14. HK9 says:

    Everytime I see these pics the phrase “prison bride” comes to mind because that’s what Celebitches were calling her at the time because of the weird foiled escape plan before the wedding and the buckets of tears during the ceremony. But I always thought she was a beautiful woman, and the fitting of the bodice & the design of the trains were messy, from the neck up she stunning.

  15. RoyalBlue says:

    they look like they have Zero chemistry. it’s not just the fact alone that she is crying that makes her look like a hostage bride, but he doesn’t seem to know how to comfort her and is not engaging with her in any way. a couple pats on the hand and a whisper here and there but to me she does not seem to be the center of his universe on that auspicious occasion.

    • Kriseth says:

      You’ll see a lot of women looking like this with older rich men in Monaco. Almost…smug. I think Charlene was in an arrangement for seven years. Who would want to give up that honey pot? I think she was overwhelmed imagining a life of being royal and not just royal adjacent instead of marrying a hot athlete and calling it a day.

      I don’t think she’s unhappy. I don’t know if she is happy. But I imagine that she is content in her life with her children.

      • RoyalBlue says:

        yes it appears that she is content now that time has passed and we have seen no semblance of unhappiness or discontent. i think it is an arrangement and she is happy with the terms of agreement. i do sometimes wonder what the runaway bride story was about.

  16. Tiffany says:

    I actually liked the dress itself, it just looked like she needed another fitting. When I was watching the ceremony online my first thought was, ‘Just how much weight did she lose between her last fitting?’.

    I loved her civil ceremony look though. That was a awesome shade of blue on her.

  17. Sara says:

    I often look at photos of his mother Grace Kelly’s wedding and in so many photos she is so stiff and looks unhappy. But there are photos that exist of her looking happy at her wedding too. I think she was just overcome with nerves. I honestly don’t know anything about Albert or Charlene. But I was a wedding coordinator for five years and oversaw literally hundreds of weddings. Many brides cry at their weddings. Many.

  18. Lizzie says:

    I cry at weddings. I wish I knew why b/c it’s embarrassing and I would like to stop. I don’t love weddings and I’m not sentimental but I cannot control crying at a wedding.

  19. L4frimaire says:

    I actually like her dress and agree her hair and veil looks pretty. The little bridesmaids dress are adorable, like little milk maids. She actually looks good and wonder about why she always looks so miserable now. Is it a sad marriage, bad photography or too many fillers in her face? As for Albert, he looks ridiculous in that poorly fitting suit/uniform. He looks like exactly what he is…the ruler of some little ( v. rich) principality that should be fictional but actually isn’t.

  20. Redgrl says:

    Albert always reminds me of a pudgy cruise director in that ludicrous uniform. Anyone know what those medals are for? I thought Charlene’s hair and make up were lovely. I do think they have an “arrangement”.