Finally, A New Princess For Monaco

Originally published on July 2, 2011 1:41 pm
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SIMON: Another royal couple tied the knot yesterday. Prince Albert of Monaco married Charlene Wittstock, a former Olympic swimmer from South Africa. The civil ceremony was broadcast on huge screens outside of the palace in which they exchanged vows.


SIMON: Eleanor Beardsley joins us now from Monaco. Eleanor, thanks for being with us.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Great to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: Tell us about Charlene Wittstock, 'cause some of us lost track of her since the 2000 Olympics.

BEARDSLEY: Well, you know, people don't seem to know much. I mean, they met in 2000 when she came here for a swim competition. He like showed her around the principality and then they sort of fell out. And then apparently she wrote him when his father, Prince Rainier III, died in 2005 and they sort of got back together then. And she's apparently been living here for the past four years, I don't know, biding her time - there's different stories. And then they just got engaged last year. So, she finally got her prince.

SIMON: And Prince Albert, of course, people look for the resemblance to Grace Kelly in his face often - he sowed his wild oats, let's put it that way.

BEARDSLEY: Yeah, definitely. I mean, he's admitted to having two illegitimate children. He's taken responsibility for that. Maybe we get to call him a playboy or a swinger. He's been around.

SIMON: And Prince Albert was a bobsledder, wasn't he?

BEARDSLEY: Yes, he was a bobsledder and he had a little brief foray into the Olympics. And they say that sport is the big thing that he and his princess share. So, yeah, sport binds them together.

SIMON: Is the new couple under some pressure to produce an heir?

BEARDSLEY: You know, I don't think it's pressure. I think that's what they want to do. I mean, he's 53, he has two illegitimate children. Everybody wants a prince or a princess, a legitimate heir. And she needs a connection to this place. I mean, she's barely apparently speaking French and, you know, she's a little bit shaky. So, I think she needs a connection. So, she probably really wants to have an heir. And they've even said we want to have a baby soon. So, I don't think it's a pressure put on them. I think that that's what they both really want.

SIMON: And do we say Monacan, Monocian ?

BEARDSLEY: No, we say Monegasques, the Monegasques.

SIMON: So, everyone in the country, as I understand it, is invited to the wedding reception.

BEARDSLEY: Yeah, absolutely. That's hilarious. There's apparently 30,000 residents here but only, people say, seven or eight thousand Monegasques. All of them were invited to the ceremony and there was even a drinks party on the port tonight, and all of the Monegasques were invited to that too. So, you could say the whole country was invited for drinks.

SIMON: Eleanor, thanks very much for seeing this assignment through. We're all very grateful.

BEARDSLEY: It was great to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: Eleanor Beardsley talking to us about the royal wedding in Monaco.


SIMON: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.