Monaco mystery on wedding eve
Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock are back on track for their big day. Photo: AP
PRINCE Albert of Monaco has gone on a royal walkabout to scotch rumours that Charlene Wittstock, his bride-to-be, had last minute cold feet because of revelations about his private life.
With mud flying on the eve of today's royal wedding, the message from Monaco's palace was ''on with the show''.
To calm his fretting subjects, Prince Albert, 53, was all smiles on a very public stroll with his statuesque South African fiancee, an Olympic swimming star. Miss Wittstock, 33, looked relaxed as they observed preparations for a ''historic 48 hours''.
The civil wedding takes place today and the religious ceremony tomorrow.
Monaco has seen nothing as extravagant since Grace Kelly, a blue-eyed Hollywood beauty said ''oui'' to Prince Albert's father, Prince Rainier III, in 1956, ushering in an unprecedented era of glamour that ended only with her 1982 death.
Guests will include French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, model Naomi Campbell and fashion designer Giorgio Armani.
Despite the smiles, the palace was desperately trying to find out who was behind the rumour that, according to French newspaper Le Parisien, had set ''Monaco fretting''. The talk is that Miss Wittstock bought a one-way ticket to South Africa after receiving distressing news about Prince Albert's private life, and was stopped by French police as she tried to board a plane. Her father said last night she had simply flown to Paris with her mother to shop.
L'Express, the magazine that broke the story, stood by its claim that Miss Wittstock tried to leave after discovering that ''the private life of the man she was about to marry was not as exemplary as she had imagined''. Britain's Daily Mirror reported that a woman was said to be preparing to name Prince Albert as the father of her unborn baby.
Prince Albert has fathered two illegitimate children - six-year-old Alexandre, the son of a former Air France air hostess and Jazmin, 19, whose mother is an American estate agent.
The Prince admitted he was the father only after DNA tests, and agreed to pay for the children's upbringing.
Palace adviser and royal wedding commentator Stephane Bern tried to dismiss the latest reports, but not without adding to speculation by citing rumours of another love child.
''A woman can very well claim she is pregnant with his child. They are not going to do a DNA test to verify [her claims] three days before the wedding,'' he said.