Prince Albert of Monaco and his wife Princess Charlene have accepted an offer of damages from Britain’s Sunday Times over a 2011 story which had suggested she was reluctant to marry him.
The royal couple were represented at London’s High Court by their lawyer, Mark Thomson, who said the July 2011 newspaper article accused the prince of having the princess’s passport confiscated at Nice airport to prevent her fleeing Monaco.
It suggested she 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.
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 owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, 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.
Prince Albert, who rules the tiny principality on the French Riviera that is a playground and tax haven for the world’s rich and glamorous, married former South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock on July 1, 2011.