Sixteen years ago, Prince Albert II made official his relationship with Charlene Wittstock, the one who will become his wife a few years later. Back on this special day for the two lovebirds.
It was February 16, 2006. Among the 35,000 spectators who came to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Prince Albert of Monaco, 47 years old, a true sports fan. But that evening, at his side in the official gallery, is a charming young woman, Charlene Wittstock. The pretty blonde of 28 years is not an unknown. South African swimming champion, she participated in the Sydney Olympic Games six years earlier.
In the grandstand, love is a plural word. Caught up in the excitement of the Olympic ceremony taking place before his eyes and the sweet company of Charlene, Prince Albert made his relationship with his beautiful wife official, he who is usually so reserved. Both hold hands, exchange complicit glances, then, to amuse his new companion, he illuminates his face with a flashlight, sketching a frightening air, report our confreres of Paris Match. Touched by the performance of her prince, Charlene then puts her cheek on his shoulder. And to please him, the swimmer swapped the colors of South Africa for those of the Monegasque principality, in support of his delegation: four athletes competing in alpine skiing and bobsleigh. When they parade under their eyes, Prince Albert and Charlene exult in joy, shouting at the top of their lungs.
The first meeting of Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock
Charlene Wittstock and Prince Albert met for the first time in 2000, during a swimming competition on the Rock. The South African swimmer won two events, gold in the 200-meter backstroke and silver in the 100-meter dash. Prince Albert, who presided over the championship, presented her with a bouquet of flowers. Then everyone goes back on their way. Charlene flew to South Africa, Albert returned to his princely responsibilities.
A year later, the young woman is back in Monaco. Prince Albert decided to go and meet her, and invited her to dinner. “Go ask my coach,” the champion replied. “When I introduced him, there was an embarrassed silence,” she told the Sunday Times a few days later. Obviously, the answer was positive. What followed, an engagement in 2010, a wedding the following year, and then the birth of twins, James and Gabriella in 2014.
Photo credits: SIPA