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Saturday, January 23, 1999 Published at 19:38 GMT

World: Europe

Monaco's secret wedding

The happy couple pose for official photographs

Princess Caroline of Monaco has married Prince Ernst August of Hanover in a private civil ceremony coinciding with her 42nd birthday.

The wedding took place in the Room of Mirrors at the Royal Palace in Monte Carlo. It was attended by the bride and groom's children from former marriages.

[ image: Together at the Monaco International Circus Festival]
Together at the Monaco International Circus Festival
Rumours of an imminent wedding surfaced after the two appeared last week with the children and the Monaco royal family during the annual International Circus Festival.

The princess had been romantically linked with her new husband, the head of one of Germany's oldest aristocratic families, since he divorced in 1997.

The couple have been making public appearances together for more than a year.

The BBC's reporter in the South of France, Wayne Bodkin, says a second, religious wedding has not been ruled out, but dispensation from the Vatican would be required before the Catholic princess could marry in church.

Closer to Windsors

The princess's third marriage directly links Monaco's Grimaldi family to Queen Elizabeth II, because Prince Ernst August is a close cousin of the British royal family.

Princess Caroline is divorced from her first husband, a Parisian banker, Philippe Junot.

Her second husband and father of her three children, Italian industrialist Stefano Casiraghi, was killed in a power-boat accident during a race at sea in 1990.

Princess Caroline is the eldest daughter of Monaco ruler Prince Rainer and former Hollywood star Grace Kelly, who died in a car crash in 1982.

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