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Prince's past casts shadow on Monaco's majestic day

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The new princess sheds a tear during the ceremony

The new princess sheds a tear during the ceremony

Charlene wipes her eye as her husband looks on

Charlene wipes her eye as her husband looks on

The newly wed couple share a kiss

The newly wed couple share a kiss

The couple acknowledge their guests

The couple acknowledge their guests

Naomi Campbell and billionaire
boyfriend Vladislav Doronin were guests at the ceremony

Naomi Campbell and billionaire boyfriend Vladislav Doronin were guests at the ceremony

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Princess Charlene of Monaco tried to flee home to South Africa three times before her marriage to Prince Albert II, according to reports yesterday in French newspapers.

The couple's glittering religious wedding drew crowds of thousands to the Mediterranean principality on Saturday and the guest list included a host of heads of state, European royals and stars of the fashion and sports world.

See a gallery of pictures from the wedding

But sources cited by the French press yesterday said the former Charlene Wittstock (33), had even tried to take refuge in her country's embassy in Paris in an attempt to get out of the wedding.

Instead, senior palace officials confiscated her passport and then persuaded her to take part in the weekend's nuptials.

"Several sources have even confirmed that an arrangement was reached between the future bride and groom," said a report in 'Le Journal du Dimanche' (JDD), the French national newspaper, which provided no further details.

It followed confirmation by palace sources that Albert (53), was due to undergo DNA tests because of claims by at least one unnamed woman that he had fathered another illegitimate child.

Yesterday, the couple hosted a private marriage brunch, and they are due to fly to South Africa on honeymoon on Tuesday.

Albert already has a six-year-old son called Alexandre through a former Togolese air hostess called Nicole Coste, and a 19-year-old daughter called Jazmin with Tamara Rotola, an American estate agent.

With the wedding in full swing, a senior palace official confirmed rumours that Prince Albert was likely to undergo the test after claims that he had fathered at least one more child.

The French news agency said anonymous officials spoke of "the truth" of a reported falling out between the couple earlier in the week and of a probable demand that Prince Albert take a paternity test.

In the new claims reported in the 'JDD' yesterday, the newspaper quoted Monaco "policy advisers" among those discussing "two illegitimate children -- one already born, the other to come" and the princess trying to "escape three times".

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The sources said that when Charlene visited Paris in May to try on her white-silk Armani wedding dress she "took refuge" in the South African embassy.

Later that month she also tried to escape during the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix, they alleged. Then, last week, she allegedly had her passport confiscated en route to Nice airport via the helicopter service which runs regularly between Monaco and France.

Senior police officials were reported to have confirmed the passport confiscation to 'Le Figaro' newspaper last week.

Throne

Even if more illegitimate children come out of the woodwork, none will have a claim to the throne, a source said.

French magazine 'Public' has attributed 'two new illegitimate children' to Albert. One is said to be 18 months old and the son of an Italian woman who is preparing to tell all.

Others, including 'Voici', have suggested that Ms Coste could have had a second Albert baby -- an idea that gained credibility on Thursday when the 40-year-old beauty was pictured in Monte Carlo on the eve of Albert and Charlene's marriage.

A palace adviser told the paper everything hinged on when any alleged love child was born. "The whole thing rests on finding out whether (any child) is over five, as Charlene and Albert have officially been together for five years," he said.

The couple had their marriage blessed in church on Saturday in a glittering ceremony, which followed a civil service held on Friday. Present were crowned heads of Europe, heads of state and celebrities -- there to see Miss Wittstock, the daughter of a photocopier salesman, became Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene de Monaco.

Princess Charlene herself didn't disappoint as her father walked her down the red-carpeted isle of the palace courtyard, transformed into a vast, open-air cathedral.

Some 800 guests, including President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin, gave the 33-year-old South African a standing ovation as she walked slowly into the courtyard in a spectacular, veiled white silk dress.

Designed by Giorgio Armani, the dress was studded in crystal and pearl, and took 2,500 hours to prepare. Prince Albert wore the cream summer uniform of Monaco's palace guards.

Celebrity

Adding to the sense of occasion were the presence of the Earl of Wessex, who wore an honorary white Royal Navy suit, his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and scores of celebrity guests. Household names on the guest list included the Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, whose fashion house made Princess Charlene's sky-blue civil wedding suit. Also present were the supermodel Naomi Campbell, the American soprano Renee Fleming and the actor Roger Moore.

Following the wedding service, the new princess shed tears as music played after she laid her bridal bouquet in Saint-Devote's Chapel.

Later, the chef Alain Ducasse, whose restaurants command a combined 19 Michelin stars, served a Mediterranean-themed dinner at Monte Carlo's casino for about 500 guests. To cap it all, 200,000 tourists were treated to a spectacular fireworks display over Monaco Bay.

Monaco hopes the star-studded event will regild the fortunes of the low-tax haven, still struggling to recover from the financial crisis. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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