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Royals show romantic side as Olympics kick off

February 12, 2006
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Top athletes from all over the world were cheered and applauded by a 35,000-strong crowd when a spectacular opening ceremony marked the beginning of the 2006 Winter Olympics. The men and women on parade in Turin's Stadio Olimpico weren't the only ones drawing attention, though, as there were also some high-profile royals turning heads at the event.

The residents of Monaco were no doubt interested to see their monarch escorting a pretty blonde to the celebrations. Prince Albert, who was sporting a red ski cap to protect him from the chilly weather, was seen laughing and joking with 23-year-old South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock. At one point the Monegasque royal showed his playful side by holding a torch below his chin in a moment of mock horror.

Crown Prince Willem-Alexander was meanwhile enjoying the company of his wife Maxima. The Dutch royals, who were on hand to support their home country's competitors, sat arm-in-arm as an impressive pyrotechnics display unfolded before them.

Tony Blair's wife Cherie, standing side-by-side with American First Lady Laura Bush, was also enjoying the extravaganza. And there was no shortage of star power in the show itself, with opera legend Luciano Pavarotti giving a virtuoso performance of his favourite aria Nessun Dorma. His glamorous compatriot Sophia Loren was joined by American actress Susan Sarandon and Chilean author Isabel Allende when she helped carry the Olympic flag out onto the main stage.

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Photo: ©
Albert shares a tender moment with South African swimmer Charlene WittstockPhoto: © AFPy
Photo: ©
The Netherlands' Crown Prince Willem Alexander watches the ceremony with wife MaximaPhoto: © AFP

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