Prince Albert of Monaco is finally tying the knot with his fiancée Charlene Wittstock. At the age of 53, he is presenting Monaco with a new princess and perhaps, eventually with an heir.
Albert is the second child of the legendary couple Princess Grace and Prince Rainier. He has two sisters Caroline and Stephanie. He was 24 when tragedy struck with the death of Princess Grace in a car accident. He had just completed his studies in political science in the United States.
After that, except for official duties, Albert never left Monaco and prepared for his future role as prince, helped by his father. He managed to keep a relatively low profile, mostly keeping his name out of the newspapers, unike his sisters whose exploits often made the headlines.
In 2005 his hour arrived with the death of his father Prince Rainier. He had ruled for 56 years.
In the mid-90’s weakened by age, Prince Ranier had thought of abdicating in favor of his son who by then was very popular, and had become increasingly involved in the running of the principality.
But Albert remained single. And he was still single when he became the 14th Prince of Monaco. It was during this time the people came to know him better as he appeared much more in public. He also became better known internationally as he began his life as a head of state, campaigning passionately for environmental protection.
Monaco aside, he has always wanted to be close to his people and is always anxious to show with pride the colors of the principality. He takes an ethical stand and rejects the image of Monaco as a tax haven, an image he sees as stereotypical – one of casinos and luxury tourism.
A passionate sportsman, he participated in the Paris-Dakar rally, but also several times in the Olympics in the Monaco bobsleigh team. He is also involved in judo, athletics, and skiing.
In 2006 he established the Prince Albert of Monaco Foundation, dedicated to the protection of the environment. In the same year he led an expedition to the North Pole to draw attention to global warming.
Was he then destined to marry a sportswoman? In 2000, he met former South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock. It did not all go smoothly. In 2003 he fathered a son after an affair with a Togolese airline flight attendent. But since 2006 he and Charlene have been inseparable.