From Monaco With Love
Love was definitely in the air, on the day Monaco finally got their long awaited Princess. The marriage between Prince Albert II and Miss Charlene Wittstock was sealed with a civil service at the beautiful Pink Palace, followed by a traditional balcony wave to the eager awaiting crowd who were ready to greet their new Princess.
The sun shone brightly and the crowds thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere. Those working in Monaco had been granted a holiday enabling them to capture this important moment in Monegasque history. The wedding celebrations lasting two days will be '...the beginning of a new era for Monaco', a local resident tells me. There was certainly an air of pride felt by the locals.
The some two hundred thousand people that had arrived in the Principality for the Royal Wedding were greeted to a mass of red and white flags, floral decorations on display that covered every quarter and every street. I met Veronica and James that were holidaying on the Riviera from the Midlands and seized the lifetime opportunity to visit Monaco and to soak in the atmosphere caused by the wedding. 'It is incredible to see the photographs of the Prince and Princess in every shop window – And everyone is so proud', they told me.
As the afternoon came to a close and the evening drew in, crowds began to make their way to Port Hercule. The trains arriving at Monaco station were delivering carriages full of people who came to enjoy the free concert by musician and performer Jean-Michel Jarre. It would be appropriate to say that the atmosphere was 'electrifying'! The sound and light show lasting around two hours was outstanding. Lasers and a firework display showered the audience of around 80,000. A production on this scale had never been done before. It was a pioneering venture, much like Jean-Michel himself. Non of this would have been complete without an appearance by the newly weds HSH Prince Albert and HSH Princess Charlene. The electronic repertoire included Jean-Michel Jarre greats such as Oxygéne and Fourth Rendez-Vous and a new piece of electric extravagance dedicated to the new Princess Charlene.
On day two of the Royal wedding celebrations, the Principality prepared for an even greater show of regal extravaganza. The streets were lined with onlookers to catch the first glimpse of the wedding couple and of course... that dress! The guest list, as you can imagine was impressive. Amongst the 800 guests to be seated in the Palace courtyard were: Karl Lagerfeld, Georgio Armani, Naomi Campbell, Roger Moore and representing the British House, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex. A further 3,500 guests were able to view the wedding ceremony on large screens, just outside the courtyard and were able to scatter the couple with confetti as they emerged.
The English visitors I encountered reflected on our own Royal Wedding, so recent that a comparison was impossible to avoid. The feeling was that although both were impressive, the Monaco one felt more like a superbly managed celebrity event rather than a truly Royal one in the British sense, full of regal pomp, carriages, horses and tiaras and constantly invoking centuries of tradition. We British are rather good at these things, after all, and set a high standard.
And so we go back to the wedding dress... This was a gown fit for a Princess – The Princess of Monaco, no less. The silk dress designed by Georgio Armani was adorned with 40,000 Swarovski crystals, 20,000 mother of pearl tear drops and 30,000 golden coloured stones. Charlene was composed and poised and was very much the picture of stunning beauty.
A bespoke Lexus cabriolet carried the bride and groom on their journey to the Chapel Sainte Devote, where the Princess followed the tradition by leaving her bouquet at the alter. The Royal couple were met by cheering crowds along the route who had waited for them to wave as they drove by. The cosmopolitan crowd were delighted to see the Prince united with his Princess. A couple from Milan who came especially for the occasion and in true Italian fashion shouted out 'Auguri' as the car drove past. Congratulations Indeed!
The Prince and Princess were welcomed by more crowds and cheers as they arrived at the chapel. The experience was an emotional and moving moment for the Princess as she shed a tear whilst she listened to the choir.
Before Prince Albert and Princess Charlene returned to their car to make their way back to the Palace before the evenings final celebrations, the awaiting crowd were once again treated to a royal kiss.
'Felicitations – Auguri – Glückwünsche – Gelukwensing and finally from all at The Riviera Woman 'Congratulaions'!
Article also appears in the magazine Monaco Life - to be found on news stands in Monaco.
More photographs of the Jean-Michel Jarre concert in Monaco on Friday 1st July can be seen on www.facebook.com/TheRivieraWoman
Photos thanks to screens around the Principality