24 SEPTEMBER 2003
In what might be the most quickly-planned royal wedding in history – the engagement took place earlier this summer, the invitations sent out just over a week ago – Emmanuel Filiberto, the exiled crown prince of Italy, is set to wed French actress Clotilde Courau on Thursday.
The 30-year-old prince and his six-months' pregnant bride – who met in a celebrity event in Monte Carle three years ago – will walk down the aisle in Rome, at the historic Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli. The ceremony, according to Emmanuel, won't be "too royal".
Cocktails for 2,000 and a private dinner for 200 are on the agenda. "Mainly I am inviting friends," Emmanuel told the Sunday Telegraph. "I don't want this to be too royal. We have invited Silvio Berlusconi. He has not replied yet, but then I sent the invitiations out only last week." Among the guests will be Prince Albert of Monaco, Johnny Hallyday, John Malkovich, and fashion designers Pierre Cardin and Valentino. Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were also invited, but are unable to attend.
In addition to the celebrity-laden guest list, glamour is reflected in some of the details of the wedding as well. The 34-year-old bride will wear a Valentino gown along with a diamond tiara belonging to the House of Savoy, and the couple will exchange Damiani rings famously designed for the Italian jeweller by Hollywood actor Brad Pitt.
The last royal wedding in Italy was held more than 70 years ago when the prince's grandfather, King Umberto II married Maria Jose of Belgium. While the Italian royal family were legally banned from Italy after WWII, the government revoked the act of banishment last year, and Emmanuel and his father returned to their ancestral homeland from Switzerland.