Pride of a prince: Albert's fiancée Charlene immaculately turned out for National Day

A little over 50 years ago a glamorous blonde arrived at Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Monte Carlo to marry Prince Rainier, thus becoming a princess of Monaco. That bride was Grace Kelly.

This week, another ice-cool blonde, Charlene Wittstock was on the steps of the 19th-century cathedral, attending Monaco's National Day, with Princess Grace's son in what almost seemed like a dress rehearsal for their lavish nuptials set for next July.

Dipping a low curtsy before Monaco's Archbishop, Charlene, a former Olympic swimmer, who represented her native South Africa, seemed to have mastered her future role as Prince Albert's consort perfectly.

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From her elegant headgear and nip-waisted suit to her court shoes, the 32–year-old looked very much the part of the princess-to-be.

Inside the cathedral, she took her place alongside her future sisters-in-law, Princesses Caroline and Stephanie, in a pew decorated with flowers in the principality's colours - red and white.

Caroline's husband Ernst of Hanover was not present – his absence appearing to confirm speculation that the couple's marriage has broken down.

Despite her own marital difficulties, the princess has shown herself to be delighted at her brother's happiness and seemed at ease with Charlene's inclusion for the first time on such a key occasion.

Also brightening her day was the fact that her children, Charlotte, Alexandra, Pierre and Andrea, joined the senior royals on the balcony of the palace to greet wellwishers.

Although the House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco since 1297, the November 19 holiday celebrates the date when the state's sovereignty was officially recognized by the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1861.