Prince Albert, one of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) most prominent members, has accepted an offer of substantial damages from Britain’s Sunday Times over a story in 2011 which had claimed his wife was reluctant to marry him.
The Royal couple were represented at London’s High Court by their lawyer, Mark Thomson, who said that the article accused the Prince of having South African Charlene Wittstock’s passport confiscated at Nice Airport to prevent her fleeing Monaco before the wedding.
It suggested that the former swimmer, who competed for South Africa in the Sydney 2000 Olympics, was reluctant to marry because she had discovered the existence of a third love child, but agreed to the marriage for the sake of appearances in return for payment, with a view to later obtaining an annulment.
“None of these allegations are true,” Thomson told Judge David Eady, adding that the article, which appeared two days after their wedding, had caused the Royal couple enormous upset and embarrassment.
The wedding was attended by several IOC members, including President Jacques Rogge.
The couple spent part of their honeymoon in Durban, where the Prince was attending the 123rd IOC Session.
The couple held a private drinks reception for the Olympic Family while they were there.
Thomson said the article also falsely alleged that Prince Albert had ignored corrupt activity by his courtiers, and failed to curb the activities of mobsters and money launderers in Monaco.
He said the Sunday Times, which is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which also published the News of the World before it was closed over the phone-hacking scandal, had admitted the allegations were untrue and accepted liability for making such defamatory claims.
It had apologised and confirmed it would pay the couple damages, to be assessed at a later stage if not agreed, and their legal costs, he said.
Rupert Earle, the lawyer representing Times Newspapers Ltd, offered its sincere apologies for the damage and distress caused.
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