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Princess Charlene of Monaco tried to flee home to South Africa three times before wedding
Princess Charlene of Monaco tried to flee home to South Africa three times before her marriage to Prince Albert II, according to French newspaper reports.
The South-African born 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, the Telegraph reported on the French press.
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.
However, a report in the French national newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche said that palace officials confiscated her passport and then persuaded her to take part in the weekend's nuptials.
The Princess, who is two decades younger than her husband, reportedly tried to flee in May after she got cold feet during a trip to Paris to try on her Armani wedding dress.
She tried again not long after during the Monaco Grand Prix.
And last week police told Le Figaro newspaper they confiscated her passport while she was en-route to Nice airport.
"Several sources have even confirmed that an arrangement was reached between the future bride and groom," said the report but 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 has fathered another illegitimate child.
Le Journal du Dimanche said Monaco "policy advisers" had discussed "two illegitimate children – one already born, the other to come". A senior palace official said Prince Albert was likely to undergo a paternity test in relation to one of the children.
Prince Albert II, 53, the son of Grace Kelly, has two confirmed children: Jazmin Grimaldi, 19, whose mother is Tamara Rotola, an American estate agent, and Alexandre Coste, six, whose mother is Nicole Coste, a former Togolese air hostess.
He has been with Charlene for five years, so any claims of children under five suggest the prince had been cheating on his bride.
Under Monaco law, none of Prince Albert’s illegitimate children have a claim to the throne. If the throne becomes vacant Monaco would become an official protectorate under French jurisdiction.
The royal couple were on Tuesday due to fly to Durban where the Princess trained as a swimmer and where the prince was due to attend a meeting of the International Olympic Committee, of which he is a member.
The committee will vote to select the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics on Wednesday.
In a statement on Sunday ahead of the session, South African President Jacob Zuma said: "It is particularly special for us to welcome the newlyweds ... to Princess Charlene's home country.
"We continue to treasure the pride Princess Charlene brought to South Africa as an Olympic swimmer."
The princess' father Mike Wittstock meanwhile dismissed reports that the wedding preparations had been disrupted by a last-minute crisis, in an interview with the Sunday Times.
Palace officials put it down to a pre-wedding "hiccup" in the wedding preparations when Charlene learned about the possible paternity test, AFP reported.
"I am so disappointed that people believe this nonsense," Wittstock told the Sunday Times.
"I am also very disappointed in the South African media who picked up on the story and ran with it before finding out the facts for themselves. It's rubbish.
"I was with them the entire time until late at night. It did not happen," he said in an interview given late on Friday night.
He also spoke of his delight at his daughter's royal marriage.
"It's just such a proud moment that I cannot describe. We are so happy for them," he said.
"It feels as if we've just won the World Cup."