23 JULY 2007

Ever since Prince Albert of Monaco and his glamorous sportswoman girlfriend Charlene Wittstock returned to the social circuit as a couple royal watchers have been keeping their ears open for news of wedding bells. And, despite Albert saying he's in no hurry to walk down the aisle, they're likely to be even more hopeful the couple will take their relationship to the next level after seeing the latest snaps of the two together at the weekend. The pair's comfortable intimacy was there for all to see when they attended a charity gala in Monaco organised by Albert's sister, Princess Stephanie.

Swimming champ Charlene - elegant in a black cocktail-style dress - and her 49-year-old beau were oblivious to fellow guests as they laughed together and shared lingering looks during the black-tie do at the exclusive Monte Carlo Sporting Club. They seem increasingly comfortable showing the growing affection between them in public – as witnessed by Albert putting his arm around his blonde girlfriend's waist as they posed for pictures.

The intimate gesture came as Albert and his South African love showed their support for Princess Stephanie's charity Fight Aids Monaco. Charlene's presence at the event - aimed at raising funds for a house-building project - is a clear indication of how much the pretty 29-year-old is becoming incorporated into the Monegasque royals' activities.

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During dinner the couple leaned close, laughing and chatting happily togetherPhoto: © Getty ImagesClick on photos for gallery
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With their arms around each other, the couple seem comfortable in displaying a new level of intimacy in the public eyePhoto: © Getty Images
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Albert and his South African love were stepping out in support of Fight Aids Monaco – a charity set up by the prince's sister Stephanie. Also in attendance was French singer Patrick Bruel, who entertained guests with a medley of his hitsPhoto: © Getty Images