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Monaco

The Monaco tradition that brought Princess Charlene to tears

One special tradition in Monaco always brings its royals into the heart of the community, even in the bitter days of deep winter. People across the Principality look forward to the feast day of St. Devote, Monaco’s patron saint, which falls in the early days of January. And the celebrations have had a big impact on Princess Charlene.

Festivities for Devote are popular across the principality and Charlene has been an enthusiastic participant in past years, showing a connection to the country’s patron. And it was during a visit to a chapel dedicated to Devote that one of the most talked about moments of her royal life took place. For it was here that Charlene wept on her wedding day.

The princess, like many of Monaco’s royal brides, made the short journey to the chapel to offer her wedding bouquet. She arrived, with her new husband, shortly after their religious wedding ceremony at the Prince’s Palace on July 2nd 2011 and walked up the steps between two floral arrangements representing the flags of Monaco and South Africa, her home country. Once inside, a poignant song was performed. Charlene was still holding her bouquet of gardenias, lily of the valley and orchids, when she began to cry and her face was partially obscured by the flowers as she tried to wipe away her tears.

Having offered her bouquet to St. Devote, Princess Charlene walked out to cheering crowds and again burst into tears. She later said that the emotion of the day had overwhelmed her and dismissed the claims that had followed her since the weeks before her wedding that she had changed her mind about getting married and had tried to flee Monaco.

Since her wedding, Charlene has shown a particular devotion to Monaco’s patron saint. Devote was a Christian who was martyred in the 3rd century. Orders were given for her body to be burned to stop it becoming an object of veneration but her supporters instead put it on a boat which sailed through a storm to Les Gaumates, now in Monaco. A chapel was built to her and was taken over by Honore I of Monaco in the 16th century. Her protection is said to have saved Monaco on several occasions. Now, her feast is marked with a boat burning ceremony held the evening before and Charlene has taken part on many occasions.

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About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.