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Prince Albert's marriage to Princess Charlene, children, Olympic career and more

Prince Albert II, who turned 66 on 14 March, is the only son of the late Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly

Prince Albert with Princess Charlene and their children, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques
Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
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Prince Albert II of Monaco celebrated his 66th birthday on Thursday, and no doubt his wife, Princess Charlene and their nine-year-old twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, made the day special for him.

The Grimaldi family, which has ruled Monaco for eight centuries, is Europe's longest-ruling royal family. 

Albert II ascended the throne in April 2005, following his father Prince Rainier's death, but did you know that Albert had an Olympic career before his reign?  

Here's everything you need to know about Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Prince Albert's early life and childhood

Princess Caroline and Prince Albert in 1959© Getty
Princess Caroline and Prince Albert in 1959

Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi was born on 14 March 1958 at the Prince's Palace of Monaco to Prince Rainier III and American actress, Grace Kelly.

Grace Kelly holiding baby Prince Albert and Prince Rainier holding baby Princess Caroline© Getty
Grace Kelly with baby Albert in 1958 as Prince Rainier holds Princess Caroline

He has an older sister, Princess Caroline, and a younger sister, Princess Stephanie.

Sadly, his mother, Grace, died at the age of 52 following a car crash in 1982.

Princess Stephanie, Prince Albert, and Princess Caroline with their parents, Princess Grace and Prince Rainier in 1967© Rene Maestri
Princess Stephanie, Prince Albert, and Princess Caroline with their parents, Princess Grace and Prince Rainier in 1967

Albert attended the Lycée Albert Premier school before studying political science at Amherst College in Massachusetts, in the US. He speaks several languages and has a passion for sport.

Olympic career

Prince Albert sitting next to bobsleigh© Getty
Albert competed for Monaco's bobsleigh team

The prince competed in the bobsleigh at five consecutive Winter Olympics for Monaco from 1988 to 2002, taking part in the two-man and four-man events.

Sadly he never won any medals, but his best finish was in 1988 when he came 25th in the two-man event.

Accession and reign

Prince Albert's investment as ruler of Monte Carlo© Getty
Albert became Prince of Monaco in 2005

Prince Rainier's health declined and Albert was appointed as regent on 31 March 2005.

On 6 April 2005, Rainier died at the age of 81 after a battle with lung, heart and kidney problems.

Albert succeeded his father, becoming Prince of Monaco. Causes close to his heart within his charitable work include environmental issues, as well as the arts. He is the vice-chairman of the Princess Grace Foundation – USA, which supports emerging artists in theatre, dance and film.

He also set up the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation in 2006, which is dedicated to protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development at a local and global level.

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene's marriage

Albert and Charlene on the day of their civil wedding on 1 July 2011© Pascal Le Segretain
Charlene wore a duck egg jumpsuit by Karl Lagerfeld for her civil wedding

The royal met South African Olympic swimmer, Charlene Wittstock, at the Mare Nostrum swimming meet in Monaco in 2000 and made their public debut as a couple at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics.

The couple announced their engagement in 2010, with Albert proposing to Charlene with a three-carat, pear-cut diamond ring.

Princess Charlene with her hand through Prince Albert's arm as they're showered with petals following their wedding© Getty
Charlene wore a gown by Armani Prive

Wedding celebrations began on 30 June 2011 with a concert at the Stade Louis II, featuring American rockers, The Eagles.

Albert and Charlene's civil ceremony took place on 1 July, with the religious service the following day in the courtyard of the Prince's Palace in Monaco.

Princess Charlene of Monaco and Prince Albert II of Monaco cut their wedding cake© Palais Princier
Princess Charlene of Monaco and Prince Albert II of Monaco cut their impressive wedding cake

Royals from monarchies around the world were among the guests, including the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, who were then the Earl and Countess of Wessex

Other high-profile celebrity guests were Naomi Campbell, Karl Lagerfeld and Dame Shirley Bassey.

Sadly, Albert and Charlene spent their tenth wedding anniversary apart in 2021, due to the princess' ENT infection and subsequent operations, which left her grounded in South Africa.

Albert's children

Prince Albert II of Monaco, Princess Gabriella of Monaco, Prince Jacques of Monaco and Princess Charlene of Monaco attend The Baptism Of The Princely Children at The Monaco Cathedral © Getty
Jacques and Gabriella on the day of their baptism

Albert and Charlene welcomed their twins Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques on 10 December 2014 at The Princess Grace Hospital Centre in Monaco

Despite being younger than his twin sister, Prince Jacques is the heir apparent to the Monegasque throne as the crown passes according to male-preference cognatic primogeniture.

Prince Jacques of Monaco, Princess Charlene of Monaco and Princess Gabriella  of Monaco  attend the Monaco National Day 2023 © Getty
Jacques and Charlene with their mother on Monaco's National Day in 2023

The twins also have two half-siblingsAlbert fathered Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, born in 1992, with real estate agent Tamara Rotolo.

She was confirmed as Prince Albert's daughter in 2006 when she was almost 16 years old. He had previously said he wanted to protect her identity until she was an adult.

prince albert and children jazmin grimaldi alexandre grimaldi© Instagram
Prince Albert with his two eldest children, Jazmin and Alexandre Grimaldi

He also confirmed he was the biological father of Alexandre Grimaldi, born in 2003, whose mother is Nicole Coste, a former Air France flight attendant from Togo, in May 2005, just before he was enthroned as Prince of Monaco.

Neither Jazmin nor Alexandre are in the line of succession to the Monegasque throne as their parents never married.

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