Ten years ago today, the eyes of the world were on Monaco, when Prince Albert II married his longtime girlfriend, Charlene Wittstock, in a glittering ceremony at the Palais Princier. Today, we’ve got all the details on Charlene’s wedding dresses, as well as the jewels she wore for both the ceremony and reception.
While previous Grimaldi weddings had been held at Monaco’s grand cathedral, this princely wedding was held outdoors in the courtyard of the palace. Bernard Barsi, the Archbishop of Monaco, conducted the ceremony.
Charlene arrived for the ceremony on the arm of her father. She wore a gown by Armani Privé, made of ivory duchesse silk and embroidered with freesias, orchids and lilies of the valley, to match the flowers in her bridal bouquet. Vogue reported, “The dress took three seamstresses 2,500 hours to make and featured a five-meter-long train adorned with 40,000 Swarovski crystals and 20,000 mother-of-pearl teardrops.” Charlene called the dress, which also featured a removable train, a “masterpiece.”
Giorgio Armani was present for the ceremony, and his niece, Roberta, was on hand as well, to ensure that the dress was perfect. She told Vogue, “My uncle wanted to make sure the dress was timeless and sophisticated. Charlene is blessed with an amazing body and spectacular shoulders, which is a fantastic base for any dress. The shade of ivory we chose suits her skin so well.” She added, “It was such a huge responsibility that we actually made two dresses just in case something happened to one of them.”
The couple said their vows in front of a crowd that included family, friends, Monegasque dignities, foreign royals, and celebrities. The Associated Press reported that the couple exchanged “18 carat white gold platinum rings by Cartier,” adding, “As Albert slipped the ring onto her finger, he winked, and as she put his on, she burst out into a broad smile.”
Instead of a traditional tiara, Charlene opted for a different kind of glittering ornament for the ceremony. She told Vogue, “Princess Caroline has lent me some beautiful diamond hair clips which belonged to her grandmother. I did have a tiara made by Van Cleef & Arpels but I decided to put it on display at the Oceanographic Museum.” (She’s referencing the diamond and sapphire Ocean Tiara, which she has so far worn only for photoshoots, never for a public appearance.) The floral brooches were Charlene’s only jewels; she didn’t wear earrings on the wedding day.
The diamond floral ornaments loaned by Princess Caroline are from the collection of the late Princess Charlotte of Monaco, Duchess of Valentinois. The jewels have been worn by Princess Caroline in various forms over the years, as brooches and hair ornaments, for events like the Red Cross Ball and National Day Gala.
The details of the diamond ornaments could be seen more clearly when Charlene’s veil was pulled back.
The naturalistic floral sprays were placed on both sides of Charlene’s elegant chignon.
After the ceremony concluded, the couple left the palace courtyard in a shower of rose petals. They drove to the chapel of Sainte Dévote, where Grimaldi brides traditionally leave their bridal bouquets as an offering after their wedding ceremonies. Charlene was moved to tears during the emotional visit to the chapel.
Next, the newlyweds and their privileged guests were treated to a special dinner on the terraces of the Opera Garnier. The meal was created by celebrity chef Alain Ducasse, who resides in Monaco. A fireworks show followed the multi-course dinner.
Albert and Charlene arrived for the meal after an outfit change. Albert’s new wedding ring was front and center as they stepped on to the terrace.
Charlene had changed into another Armani Privé creation. The fun, flirty gown featured tiers of silk chiffon embroidered with Swarovski crystals in shades of gold and platinum. The outfit change was prompted by comfort, Charlene told Vogue: “The wedding dress is pretty heavy so I wanted to change into something light, soft and easy to move in for the evening.”
She also swapped out the antique diamond floral brooches for a new piece of jewelry: the diamond aigrette created for her by Lorenz Baumer. The modern tiara was another of her wedding presents from Albert.
The small tiara features large pear-shaped diamonds at the tips of thin white gold strands, and is designed to mimic the spray rising off a cresting wave. The maritime design was a nod both to Monaco’s seaside location and Charlene’s history as an Olympic swimmer.
The tiara can be worn in two ways: flat against the head, as Charlene wore it for the reception, and reversed, so that the diamonds lift more in a “rising spray” effect. Charlene wore it in the second configuration during a fitting, which was filmed and can be seen here. So far, the wedding reception has been Charlene’s only public appearance in the tiara. I’m very much hoping we’ll see her try out this piece again in the future.