Forget the story that just days before her wedding to Prince Albert of Monaco this weekend, bride-to-be Charlene Wittstock attempted to escape the impending nuptials, as French news sources have been claiming.
According to the website of the news magazine L’Express, last week Albert’s fiancée sought to return home to South Africa “only hours after learning that Albert had not been leading the exemplary life she thought.”
Only Christiane Stahl, a chief advisor to Prince Albert at the Monaco Palace, told PEOPLE on Tuesday morning that these rumors – and the printed story – are “completely, completely crazy.”
“Please believe me, none of this is true, and we think it comes from utter jealousy,” Stahl said. “Charlene never left to go to the airport, nothing like that ever happened. She was never upset and never wanted to stop the wedding.”
Stahl said both Charlene and Albert were “very disappointed” when they heard the rumors but are “very calm.”
Albert’s longtime lawyer, Maitre Thierry Lacoste, also addressed the printed rumor, and told the newspaper Le Figaro, “It’s madness, everything is false. It’s been three weeks these rumors have been running.”
Lacoste said he intends to seek an injunction against L’Express.
He also said, “I was with the Prince and Charlene Wittstock in Paris three days ago, and I can promise you that all is well.”
Wittstock with Maria Shriver
Last weekend, Wittstock, a former Olympic swimmer, represented Monaco at the official opening of the Athens 2011 Special Olympic Games, which was also attended by Maria Shriver, whose family started the Special Olympics.
While citing no specific reason for her reputed hasty departure – beyond that it was “‘rooted in a revelation” L’Express claimed that in her flight a distraught Wittstock was eventually stopped at the French airport, where officials were acting on a request from the royal palace.
The news magazine does remind readers that Albert publicly confessed in September 2005 to having an illegitimate child, a son, with Togolese flight attendant Nicole Coste. In 2006, he also acknowledged having fathered a daughter out of wedlock, Jazmin Grace Rotolo, born in 1992.
In its official statement, the palace said: “The Prince’s Palace firmly denies the allegations made in the press this morning on the web site Express.fr. These rumors spread a few days before the wedding ceremonies of H.S.H Prince Albert and Miss Charlene Wittstock have only one purpose to seriously damage the Sovereign’s image and by consequence that of Miss Wittstock and to cause serious prejudice to a happy event.”
BY PETER MIKELBANK AND DANA KENNEDY