01.16.13 11:55 AM ET
Prince Albert of Monaco and Charlene: Marriage Was Not a Sham
The kiss may have been awkward, but their marriage wasn't a sham.
Prince Albert of Monaco has accepted a high court apology and substantial damages from the Sunday Times over "seriously defamatory allegations" that he had entered a sham marriage with Charlene Wittstock.
The prince sued the News International paper following the publication of the article in July 2011 for damages of more than £300,000, but the high court heard on Tuesday morning that the exact settlement has yet to be agreed. The Sunday Times will also pay Prince Albert's legal costs.
The UK Guardian reports that Rupert Earle, a lawyer representing the Sunday Times, said the paper offered "its sincere apologies to the claimants for the damage, as well as the distress caused".
The offending article was published on 3 July 2011, just two days after the couple were married – it was headlined "The Full Monte" and "Curse of the Grimaldis". It wrongly claimed that Prince Albert's wife had agreed to take part in a sham marriage because he paid her so much money to go through the pretence of an extravagant wedding, despite her discovering that he had fathered an illegitimate child with another woman during their relationship.
The prince and princess said the story had caused considerable hurt, distress and embarrassment.
The story also accused Albert of having Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene's passport confiscated at Nice airport in order to prevent her from leaving Monaco, so that she would marry him "for appearance's sake," Prince Albert's lawyer Mark Thomson said in court, the Guardian said.
He added that the Sunday Times also made the defamatory suggestion that Princess Charlene had attempted to flee the principality because she had discovered the existence of a third love child by another woman and she had reluctantly agreed to marry the prince in exchange for money with a view to "obtaining an annulment after a seemly interval".
The final libel, Thomson told the court, was the allegation that Prince Albert "had paid his allegedly reluctant bride for going through with the marriage with the intent of allowing her afterwards to annul the marriage quietly".
"None of these allegations are true," said Thomson in the statement agreed with the paper.
"The article caused the newly-wed couple enormous upset and embarrassment," he added, particularly in view of the worldwide interest in their marriage.