I don’t know where to begin. My husband and I had the honor and happiness of being among the 3,500 guests of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene as they married yesterday. So I can tell you first hand, despite the rumors circulating, despite whatever might come after the honeymoon, that the wedding itself was simply beautiful: warm and emotional, grand and dignified.
It’s always a difficult balance between a hugely public, state occasion – an extraordinary show in front of thousands of viewers, multiplied by the cameras to reach millions – and an intimate ceremony between two people, their families and closest friends. Cheers to the Grimaldis who pulled it off, exceeding everyone’s expectations.
Princess Charlene walked the decidedly long aisle across the palace courtyard with an athlete’s trained grace, looking stunning and serene. Her gown was perfect. The seven little bridesmaids who followed her, adorably dressed in regional costume and shyly smiling, almost stole the show. Prince Albert looked relaxed and dignified, if a bit warm on a hot and humid July day. They whispered to each other throughout the ceremony, not too much but enough, of course they kissed, but for me the most touching moment took place as they held hands. The Prince gave his new Princess’ hand a comforting squeeze as the magnificent music filled the Cours de Palais. All in all, it was something to remember, flawlessly executed with to-the-minute precision.
The disconnect between what I’ve since read in the press, and what I saw with my own eyes is not to be believed. One newspaper’s account had Charlene ‘bursting’ into tears and ‘sobbing’ throughout the wedding. It is patently false. To the contrary she was calm and smiling, solemn and dignified. Another proclaimed Albert ‘ashen faced.’ Here again the warm weather might have come into play. Still, he looked perfectly normal to me both throughout the ceremony and after as they made the joyous and triumphant walk back down the aisle and we tossed white rose petals at them as they passed.
As to the supposed sobbing, it was merely a few tears, completely understandable, after the wedding ceremony was over. The couple got into their waiting convertible and drove through the cheering streets of Monaco, to the small chapel of St. Devote. There, during a haunting and lovely duet came an emotional moment. The music was evocative and beautiful, bringing a few tears to the eyes of a just married bride. One who had spent three days in the enormous stress of the global spotlight – the ultimate star of a glamorous, highly star-studded event. It was as real as you get. Those tears made a lovely woman believable and I hope forever put to rest those who called her an ice princess.
But it was the rumors flying before the event, the whispers during and those still circulating after that bothered me the most. Prince Albert’s father, Prince Rainier once supposedly said that ‘gossip was invented in Monaco.’ If perhaps not invented, one can certainly say ‘perfected’ in this global village where it seems to be the national pastime. I am guilty of indulging too – who doesn’t like a good rumor? Yet, after all, when it remains unconfirmed innuendo it is ultimately hurtful to the people concerned and to all of us living in the Principality they represent.
Happily today, the day after, the fireworks finished, the receptions, the concerts and the incredible parties offered by the newlyweds to all the people of Monaco ended, what is left is a village thrilled and proud and deservedly so. It was a perfectly organized, really fun and simply beautiful party that gave the Principality its long awaited Princess. Let’s hope that it won’t just be the clichéd ending to a fairytale and that the reality will be, after all, that they live happily ever after!