Royal wedding preparations go on amid rumours

2011-06-29 14:29

Paris – Prince Albert II of Monaco and his South African fiancee Charlene Wittstock dropped in on rehearsals for a pre-wedding gig today, after rumours that the future princess nearly ducked out of the marriage, Le Parisien newspaper reported today.

In a show of unity aimed at quelling rumours, the couple posed for photographs in the port of Monaco, where French electropop composer Jean-Michel Jarre was putting the final touches to a concert planned for the eve of their Saturday wedding.

A photograph published in Le Parisien showed the prince (53) linking arms with a smiling Wittstock (33).

The visit came amid angry denials by the palace of a report on the website of France’s Express news magazine that Wittstock had attempted to flee to South Africa after a revelation about Albert’s private life.

L’Express.fr reported that the former swimming champion got as far as Nice airport but never boarded a flight. The report said she was stopped by French police, acting on a request from the palace, and that they persuaded her not to leave.

The palace issued a statement today denying the “lying allegations”.

“These rumours have the sole aim of harming the image of the sovereign and consequently that of Miss Wittstock, and cause serious damage to this happy event,” the statement read.

Threatened with a lawsuit, L’Express.fr withdrew the article.

The rumours have cast a cloud over preparations for the first royal wedding in Monaco since the 1956 marriage of Prince Rainier III and Hollywood star Grace Kelly.

Some 3 500 guests are expected at the two-day wedding, on Friday and Saturday, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British supermodel Naomi Campbell and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Albert has two children out of wedlock: a 7-year-old son with a Togolese airline hostess and a teenage daughter with an American whom he met while she was visiting Monaco.

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