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Monaco’s royal couple welcomes birth of twins

Valery Hache, AFP | Monaco’s Prince Albert II and his wife Charlene on November 19

Prince Albert II of Monaco and his wife Charlene on Wednesday welcomed their twin babies Gabriella and Jacques to the world, the palace announced. Prince Jacques is next in line to the throne.

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Gabriella Thérèse Marie was born at 5:04 pm followed by Jacques Honoré Rainier two minutes later, the principality said in a statement, adding that both babies and their mother were "doing well".

The first children of the glamorous South African Princess Charlene replace Albert's sister Caroline as the next in line to the Monaco throne.

They were born at the Princess Grace Hospital in Monaco.

The gender of the twins had been kept a secret even from their father during Charlene's pregnancy.

But Albert – whose late mother was the Hollywood superstar Grace Kelly – had earlier said that if the twin were a boy and a girl, it would be the boy who would succeed him.

Albert succeeded his father, Prince Rainier, in 2005.

He had a daughter, Jazmin, 22, after a fling with former waitress Tamara Rotolo. He denied being her father for years before DNA tests proved otherwise when she was a teenager.

The prince also has a younger son, Alexandre Coste, 11, from an affair with Nicole Coste, a former Air France hostess.

Under Monaco's inheritance laws, neither of them have any claim to royal titles or to be considered as heirs to Albert because they were born outside of marriage.

They do however have legal rights to a share of his huge personal fortune, estimated by Forbes magazine to exceed one billion dollars.

Charlene, 36, a Zimbabwe-born former Olympic swimmer, married 56-year-old Albert in 2011 despite rumours that their relationship was on the verge of collapse.

Media reports suggested she had attempted to flee Monaco just days before their wedding.

It was also widely reported that the couple spent at least part of their honeymoon in separate hotels. A steady stream of pictures of the princess looking gloomy continued to fuel reports she was depressed.

The palace said that Crown Prince Jacques will receive the title of Marquis of Baux, while his sister, second in line to the throne, will have the title of Countess of Carlades.

(AFP)

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