After nearly three decades as the world's most eligible bachelor - resulting in countless column inches of speculation regarding a string of girlfriends* and the birth of two children out of wedlock** - His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco has today announced his intention to marry his companion of four years, the South African-born former Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock. No date has been set for the impending nuptials, but by custom formal royal engagements in the jewel-like Mediterranean principality generally last at least six months.
The Prince and Wittstock have been seen together publicly since February 2006, when they attended the opening ceremony of that year's Winter Olympics together in Torino; they have also attended the Monaco Grand Prix, the Bal de la Rose, and the Princess Grace Awards Gala together. Most recently they were seen together at the wedding of Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling - this past June 19th at Stockholm Cathedral - sparking rumours amongst royal watchers that the House of Grimaldi was about to add its newest member.
*Including (among others) Brooke Shields, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Kylie Minogue, and Telma Ortiz Rocasolano - the sister-in-law of Spain's Prince of Asturias.
**The eldest, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, was born to Tamara Rotolo in March 1992; she was joined by a half-brother, Alexandre Coste, who was born to Nicole Coste in August 2003.
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