26 SEPTEMBER 2003
Prince Emmanuel Filiberto of Savoy has married French actress Clotilde Courau in Rome. More than 1,200 guests came along to offer their congratulations, as the couple made their vows at the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
Prince Albert of Monaco acted as best man, while the bride's white silk gown was designed by Italian couturier Valentino. "I drew inspiration first from the woman, then the princess, then the mother," said the iconic designer before making his way into the church. Clotilde, who is expecting the couple's first child in three months time, also wore an 18-foot tulle veil held in place by a jewelled tiara.
Other notable figures attending the ceremony included designer Pierre Cardin and rock star Johnny Hallyday.
The union has raised some eyebrows in traditionalist circles as the bride comes from a staunchly left-wing family in a working class suburb of Paris. There could be little doubt about the strength of the couple's feelings, however, as both were moved to tears during the ceremony.
Emmanuel Filiberto's family was exiled from Italy after World War II for supporting Mussolini, and has only recently been allowed to return. The wedding took place in same church the prince's great grandparents, Victor Emmanuel III and Elena of Montenegro, were married in 1896, and it is believed the choice of venue was a gesture towards rebuilding links with the Savoys' homeland.