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Monaco's royal twins

December 10, 2014

Monaco's royal family has welcomed two new additions, with Princess Charlene giving birth to twins. The boy and girl were born just after 5 PM local time at Princess Grace hospital.

Princess Charlene and Prince Albert II of Monaco
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Monaco's royal family has welcomed two new additions, with Princess Charlene giving birth to twins on Wednesday.

Princess Gabriella Therese Marie and Prince Jacques Honore Rainier were born just after 5 PM local time, and both mother and babies were "doing well," according to a statement released by the palace.

Cannons were fired to celebrate the births, with each baby receiving 21 shots in their honor. The announcement of the twins' arrival was greeted with excitement across the tiny nation.

"This is going to create an immense joy. Immense!" said Monaco citizen Isabelle Roux.

Although Gabriella was born first, the royal law of succession dictates that only a male heir can rule the wealthy principality of Monaco.

Prince Jacques replaces Prince Albert II's sister Princess Caroline, who would have been allowed to succeed Albert to the throne had the prince died without legitimate children. After all, royal watchers had been worried that Albert, still a bachelor in his fifties, might never produce a legitimate heir to carry on the Grimaldi name.

Prince Albert, the only son of the late Hollywood actress Grace Kelly, already has two children from previous relationships: an 11-year-old son and a 22-year-old daughter. But as they were born out of wedlock, neither child has any claim to the throne, under the country's inheritance laws.

They do however have the right to claim a share of the prince's personal fortune, believed to be larger than one billion dollars.

New beginnings

In 2011 Albert married South African former Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock, although rumors about the unstable nature of their relationship have continued to arise.

Media reports suggested the 36-year-old tried to leave Monaco days before their wedding was scheduled to take place.

The couple announced their pregnancy at the end of May, with the gender of the twins kept secret from Albert until their birth.

The palace announced Prince Jacques will be given the title of Marquis of Baux, while Princess Gabriella will receive the title of Countess of Carlades.

Monaco is a two-square kilometer piece of Mediterranean coastline with a population of around 30,000.

an/mg (AP, AFP, dpa)