By PETER ALLEN
Bride and joy? Prince Albert keeps his emotions firmly in check as Princess Charlene sheds a tear at their wedding in Monaco
The new Princess Charlene of Monaco tried to flee home to South Africa three times before her ‘arranged marriage’ to Prince Albert, it was alleged yesterday.
The former Charlene Wittstock, 33, reportedly made her first escape attempt when she travelled to Paris in May to try on her wedding dress.
During the visit, she ‘took refuge’ in her country’s embassy in the French capital, sources in Monaco said.
Tears: Princess Charlene dabs her eyes with a handkerchief on two different occasions during Saturday's wedding
The allegations, which are surprising considering she went ahead with the wedding on Saturday, emerged in the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
It went on to report that later in May, Charlene made a second apparent attempt to escape during the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix.
Escape: Sources in Monaco have suggested that Charlene Wittstock attempted to go to the South African embassy in Paris and leave the principality during its Grand Prix
Then, last week, royal officials are said to have confiscated her passport en route to Nice airport via the helicopter service that runs between the Mediterranean principality and France. She was then persuaded to go on with the marriage.
‘Several sources have confirmed that an arrangement was reached between the future bride and groom,’ reported Le Journal du Dimanche.
Sources said the Monaco palace had hoped the glitzy wedding – attended by a host of celebrities and European royalty – would ‘overshadow’ new claims about secret children fathered by Albert.
Spectacular: A general view of fireworks during the festivities which took place after the religious ceremony
Sealed with a kiss: The couple kiss as they leave the church and are due to go on honeymoon to South Africa this week
Instead, Charlene was in floods of tears at one point, while her 53-year-old husband looked on impassively.
Meanwhile, the reception that followed provoked ridicule with tacky features such as a giant wedding cake that towered over the couple and a mirrored dance floor.
Among the guests were Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, actor Roger Moore and Topshop boss Sir Philip Green and his wife, Tina.
Tomorrow the couple are due to fly to South Africa on honeymoon, presenting Charlene with her best chance yet of ‘escaping’ Monaco.
A tender kiss: The new Princess Charlene shares a kiss with her Prince after they are pronounced husband and wife
With this ring, I thee wed: Charlene places a 18-carat white gold platinum rings by Cartier on the Prince's finger
Mixed emotions: Princess Charlene seemed both glum and pleased as she walked down the aisle with her new husband as the crowds rushed to scatter rose petals on the newly-weds
If an ‘arrangement’ has been reached, however, it may be that Charlene’s principal aim will be to produce a legitimate heir for Albert in return for a multi-millionaire lifestyle.
The prince is due to undergo DNA tests because of claims that he has fathered a third, and possibly even a fourth, love child.
He already has a six-year-old son named Alexandre through Togolese former air hostess Nicole Coste, and a 19-year-old daughter, Jazmin, with Tamara Rotolo, an American estate agent.
Let us pray: The couple kneel at the altar during their service
Both illegitimate children were kept away from Albert’s wedding to avoid ‘media exposure’, a palace official told Le Journal du Dimanche.
But he also revealed that one of Charlene’s first duties in her new role would be to stand by Albert during another scandal related to his chequered private life.
‘The truth of the rumour is that Albert faces paternity tests following a claim by at least one former lover,’ said the source.
Striking: Charlene's bridesmaid carries her long train as the couple leave the wedding mass
Spectacular, spectacular: The VIPs, royals and dignitaries crowed into the main courtyard for the lavish wedding mass
None of Albert’s illegitimate brood will have a claim to the throne.
The official said: ‘Albert will not have an official heir until Princess Charlene bears him one.’
There was not enough time to organise DNA tests before the wedding, but the source said they would go ahead in the next few days.
Elegant in white: The white silk gown designed by Giorgio Armani fell beautifully over her flawless figure
The French magazine Public has attributed ‘two new illegitimate children’ to Albert. One is said to be the 18-month-old son of an Italian woman who is preparing to tell all.
Others, including Voici magazine, have suggested Miss Coste could have had a second baby by Albert – an idea that gained credibility last week when the 40-year-old beauty was pictured in Monte Carlo.