For royal watchers everywhere 2011 should be quite a year, as the son of Princess Diana, Prince William, marries long term girlfriend Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey London on April 29.
Mean while, two months later, the tiny European Principality of Monaco will be full of celebrities and royals for the marriage of Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock.
The happy royal couple are set to tie the knot on Friday July 2 2011 in a civil ceremony in the Palace, near the cathedral where Prince Albert’s mother – Hollywood actress Grace Kelly – married Prince Rainier in 1956, catapulting Monaco to the world’s attention.
The wedding will be a bonanza for the world’s press, with a mix of A-list celebrities, sports stars, musicans as well as members of other European royal families in attendance. A thousand guests will be at an open air ceremony on the Saturday.
It will be a bonanza too for the businesses in the area – the hotels will be full and most are already fully booked for the weekend, at full rate. Given that both the Hotel de Paris and Metropole are five star there should be no shortage of first class rooms available in the Monaco hotels for the invited guests!
Even in an ordinary year the Principaility is full of glamour. Visitors can enjoy the world renowned Monte Carlo Casino any day of the year, in April there is the tennis while in late May there is the Monaco Grand Prix and in September the Yacht Show – all world class events that draw people in from around Europe with the Grand Prix televised live globally.
The happy bride Charlene Wittstock is South African, although born in Zimbabwe, in January 1978. Charlene was a member of South Africa’s swimming team at the 2000 Summer Olympics, held in Sydney Australia. She held several South African swimming records, and after the wedding her first official trip as Princess with Prince Albert will be to South Africa, for an Olympic meeting.
Nearly twenty years her senior, Prince Albert has the natural mix of Hollywood glamour through his mother and European royalty through his father, and became Monaco’s top royal following the death of his father Prince Rainier, who took Monaco from a sleepy European enclave to worldwide glamour and financial tax haven during his reign.
Over that time Monaco became known as the home of million and billionaires, and is today an important finance centre with the Monaco banks playing an important part in her economy.
And Prince Albert is well known for campaigning on environmental issues at high levels of government, raising issues and pushing them up the agenda of importance. While people might associate his Principality primarily with glamour and the Monaco banks, it is also leading the campaign for example to ban the fishing of endangered bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean.
While some might be surprised at just how much Prince Albert cares about the environment, it will probably come as less of a surprise to learn that Monaco property is the most expensive in the world – highlighted recently when the Candy Brothers sold their apartment for over 200 million Euros.
Given that F1 cars race around its streets every May, it might seem a strange mix, but that’s the joy of Monaco – a leader in environmental issues but still able to have the glamour of some of the world’s best hotels, casino, a luxury yacht show and the Monaco Grand Prix which is the highlight of the F1 season.
And next year of course there’s that rather special Wedding to look forward to, to make it a special summer for royal watchers everywhere.
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