MONACO: Amid the splendour of the Mediterranean principality's Italian Renaissance palace, Prince Albert of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock had their marriage blessed in a Roman Catholic church service. However, even as the couple took their vows, Prince Albert's colourful past threatened to overshadow the proceedings.
In a briefing to journalists, a senior palace official confirmed rumours that Prince Albert will have paternity tests within days, following claims he has fathered a third child out of wedlock.
''The truth of the rumour is that Albert faces paternity tests following a claim by at least one former lover,'' the official said.
Prince Albert already has a seven-year-old son, Alexandre, with a former Togolese air steward, Nicole Coste, and a 19-year-old daughter, Jazmin, with Tamara Rotolo, an American estate agent.
Despite the development, none of Prince Albert's illegitimate children will have a claim to the throne, the official said. ''Even if a third or even a fourth child is confirmed, Albert will not have an official heir until Princess Charlene bears him one,'' he said.
The French magazine Public has claimed Prince Albert fathered ''two new illegitimate children'', saying one is understood to be 18 months old and the son of an Italian woman who is preparing to take her story to the press.
Other publications have suggested Ms Coste could have had a second baby to the prince. The 39-year-old raised eyebrows on Thursday when she was pictured in Monte Carlo on the eve of the wedding. But, for all the background rumours, Monaco still basked in glittering pomp and majesty.
Huge red-and-white flags, the colours of the principality, were draped from windows of luxury high-rises in the world's second smallest state, along with the colours of South Africa.
To the strains of Johann Sebastian Bach and traditional South African songs, the royal couple were watched by the kings of Spain, Sweden, Lesotho and Belgium, as well as the presidents of France, Iceland, Ireland, Lebanon, Malta, Germany and Hungary.
Household names on the guest list included the Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld, whose fashion house made Princess Charlene's civil wedding suit.
Also present were the supermodel Naomi Campbell (a former flame of the prince's), the American soprano Renee Fleming and the actor Roger Moore.
In a solemn ceremony, the couple were asked to take each other as husband and wife. Both replied ''oui'', no doubt to the immense relief of palace officials.
Monaco hopes the star-studded event will regild the fortunes of the low-tax haven, still struggling to recover from the financial crisis.
Since 2008, tourism had fallen 9 per cent in two years before picking up recently.
Takings at the casinos are down 14 per cent.