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Prince Albert, Charlene Wittstock wedding weekend begins in Monaco

Festivities begin for Monaco's Prince Albert II and swimmer Charlene Wittstock.
Monaco wedding 2011 7 1Enlarge
Charlene Wittstock and Prince Albert II of Monaco attend a concert by The Eagles at Louis II Stadium to celebrate their royal wedding on June 30, 2011 in Monaco. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

The lavish wedding weekend has begun for Monaco's Prince Albert II and South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock.

The festivities began Thursday night as the couple attended at a public concert with the Eagles. They will have a civil wedding Friday in the palace throne room and a religious ceremony Saturday in the royal courtyard, the Washington Post reports.

The BBC reports that up to 3,500 people are expected to attend the festivities. Guests include French President Nicolas Sarkozy, fashion designers Georgio Armani (who designed Wittstock's dress) and Karl Lagerfeld and supermodel Naomi Campbell.

(See Monaco wedding photos: Another royal wedding. Also see: Kate Middleton and Prince William go to Wimbledon

There have been rumors leading up to the wedding that Wittstock had cold feet after learning upsetting news about Prince Albert's private life and was close to returning to South Africa. The royal family has dismissed these claims.

"These rumours have no other goal than to severely damage the reputation of the monarch and thereby that of Miss Wittstock and severely undermine this happy event," the palace said, according to BBC.

This will be Monaco's first wedding of a reigning prince since the 1956 wedding of Albert’s parents, Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly.

Wittstock swam in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She reportedly met Prince Albert during a swimming competition in Monaco in 2000, reports the Belfast Telegraph. She moved to Monaco in 2006.

Prince Albert competed in five Winter Olympics on Monaco's bobsled team, it states.

Wittstock, 33, will become Her Serene Highness, Princess Charlene.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/prince-albert-charlene-wittstock-wedding-begins-monaco