Factbox: Wedding bells in Monaco in facts and figures

Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:38am EDT
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MONACO (Reuters Life!) - Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock are set to marry this weekend in a long-awaited union many see as crucial to upholding the fairy tale image -- and financial clout -- of the tiny city-state on the French Riviera.

Following are some key fact about the nuptials, the couple and the principality of Monaco:

* WHO ARE THEY? -- Albert II, 53, has been the sovereign ruler of Monaco since the death of his father, Prince Rainier III, in 2005. His mother was Grace Kelly, the Oscar-winning Hollywood star. He has two siblings, Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie.

A five-time Olympic competitor in bobsledding, the head of the House of Grimaldi has sought to cut down on money laundering and bring more transparency to business operations in Monaco.

-- Wittstock, 33, was born in then-Rhodesia in 1978 but emigrated to South Africa with her parents -- a sales manager and former swimming teacher -- at age 12. After winning her first South African swimming championship at age 18, Wittstock came in fifth with her team at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. A fan of surfing and hiking, she ended her swimming career in 2007 and has traveled widely for charity events with her fiance.


-- After a civil ceremony on Friday, the couple will be married at 5:00 pm (11 a.m. EDT) on Saturday in a religious wedding in the courtyard of the prince's Palace, situated atop the Rock of Monaco that overlooks the Mediterranean.

-- Wittstock will wear a Giorgio Armani gown and will be accompanied by six flower children representing the different communes of Monaco.

-- Some 3,500 guests have been invited, and huge television screens around the palace square will broadcast the ceremony live. The couple will then proceed to the nearby chapel of Saint Devote, the patron saint of Monaco, where Wittstock will leave her bouquet. A hybrid Lexus with a transparent roof will then whisk them away.   Continued...

<p>A carabinier of Prince Albert II of Monaco walks past a van with a poster reading "Albert-Charlene, long live the newly-weds" in front of Monaco palace as preparations continue for the upcoming wedding, June 27, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>