Entries tagged with “Princess Charlene”.


mandela-house-statue-whale-cottage-portfolio-225x300On Thursday evening South Africa and the world lost in Nelson Mandela one of its most influential citizens ever, who taught us about the nobility of forgiveness, despite what he suffered for 27 years to make South Africa and the world a better place for all.

No doubt like many others, I could not help but feel sad about the passing of someone whom I had never met, but who feels like a father, and the sadness is even greater, this being the second father I have lost this year. Reading the outpouring of love for Mr Mandela on TV, on radio, on Twitter, and Facebook, the timelines were dominated by the expression of each one who uses the media.  Kfm played tributes and ‘nostalgic’ music, not its normal music mix, like Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge over Troubled Water‘ and Eric Clapton’s ‘Tears in Heaven’, and many more songs that related to the specialness of Madiba.

The world’s leaders expressed their sadness, and President Barack Obama was one of the first to express his condolences in the early hours of yesterday morning.  He and his wife Michelle have announced that they will travel to South Africa next week, to pay their respects to the  country and the family.   Books of condolence have been opened in South African embassies around the world, for South Africans and Madiba admirers to express their feelings.  A moving tribute was paid to him by his assistant of many years Zelda la Grange.

Many media interviewees said that the day had been inevitable, but no one was prepared for the final passing. A number of false reports announced Madiba’s passing mid-year, and it is clear that the major international and local TV stations had long before prepared documentaries about the man that had such a hold over the world.

Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster (now Drakenstein) prison in 1990, a month after I had moved back home to Cape Town from Pretoria and Johannesburg, and I was one of many millions watching the TV broadcast of the long and slow walk to freedom from the prison.  The broadcast by SABC was a lowlight of Mr Mandela’s release, his release having been delayed, and the SABC reporter had nothing more to say while waiting for at least an hour than to comment on a leaking tap!  As Madiba’s cavalcade was leaving Paarl, I was one of thousands making our way to the City Hall, to hear Madiba address the nation and the world.  We heard his distinctive voice for the first time.  It was the start of a new South Africa, of tolerance and respect for each other, most of the time.  Not only was Madiba respected for his lack of bitterness, but President FW de Klerk was saluted too for his graciousness in motivating his Cabinet to release Madiba, knowing full well that he and his National Party would eventually lose the ruling power.  For their gentlemanliness both leaders jointly received the Nobel (more…)

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  Joanne Gibson has made the shortlist in the International Feature Writer of the Year category, and Michael Fridjhon in the Best Columnist category, of the Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards.  Ms Gibson was one of the 20 or so wine writers whose entries for the Franschhoek Literary Festival Wine Writer Award were rejected as not being good enough!  (received by Tweet from Joanne Gibson)

*   Decanter has published its top 50 The Decanter Power List 2013

*   Times Media Limited, publishers of the Sunday Times and The Times, has withdrawn from the South African Press Association (SAPA),  a news sharing service, writes The Media Online.

*   SAA staff is striking today, but there has been no disruption, with only a small number of staff being absent, the airline says.

*   South Africa is on the front cover of Marie Claire world-wide, with the very noble cause of developing budding South African swimmers to get them trained up to Olympic standard by Princess Charlene of Monaco, and fitting to celebrate Mandela Day, a Marie Claire exclusive in its editions worldwide. The princess gave up attending the Dutch enthronement for the shoot in South Africa, to royal criticism.  An alternative cover features the princess with swimming stars and Olympic medal winners Ryk Neethling and Chad le Clos. (more…)

When Prince Albert II and Princess Charlène of Monaco visited Cape Town after the COP17 World Climate Change Conference in Durban last month, the reason for their visit was not widely reported.  Now it has been reported by the Weekend Argus that they were in the city to announce the establishment of the Polaris Climate Change Observatory in the V&A Waterfront, with Prince Albert its Patron, and that Cape Town had won the preferred host choice for this prestigious and vitally important observatory, an important tourism plus for the city.

Conceptualised by the International Polar Foundation, the Polaris Climate Change Observatory is the first of its kind in the world, and is scheduled to open in 2014.  The Observatory will be a showcase of the key drivers of climate change, and alternative energy uses for the future.  The International Polar Foundation receives funds from the Prince Albert II Foundation, which the Prince established five years ago to focus on the sustainable development and protection of the environment, especially in the polar regions. The Prince has visited both the South and North Poles.  The Polaris Climate Change Observatory will educate and inform visitors about the climate change research being conducted in the Antarctic.  Further sponsors are UNESCO, World Climate Change Programme, World Meteorological Organization, and the International Council for Science.

The Polaris Climate Change Observatory is to be located on the Collier Jetty in the commercial harbour, which was built more than 110 years ago as a coal and grain trading store, and the building has achieved heritage status.   The new Observatory building will be designed to become a ‘visual landmark‘ for Cape Town, which will have excellent views over the Waterfront towards Table Mountain and the city centre, said V&A Waterfront CEO David Green, the new building ‘layering history, industry, commerce and tourism‘.  He added that the project will enhance the commercial fishing and harbour facilities, rather than being a threat to them.  The building has been designed by local GAPP Architects in conjunction with German concept design bureau Atelier Brückner. Tying in with the polar theme, the building design will resemble that of  a ‘giant tabular iceberg, surrounded by water on all sides and depicting a melting ice block as a result of climate change’.  The iceberg, the planet and the ice-core are three symbolic symbols which will be represented.

Space will be developed to allow students to participate in the Class Zero Emission educational programme, and allows for interactive performances, film festivals, conferences, exhibitions, and functions. Climate change is the most complex challenge facing the 21st century, says the Polaris Observatory document.  The main objectives of the Observatory are as follows:

“A showcase of the science unwrapping climate complexities

— A place where innovations towards a low-carbon economy can be explored

— A venue for bringing together policy-makers, civil society and industry

— A centre for the promotion of scientific education as a tool for progress”

The Polaris Climate Change Observatory will become an exciting new world class design, educational and tourism addition to the Cape Town asset portfolio, to open in the year in which Cape Town is the World Design Capital 2014.

Polaris Climate Change Observatoryhttp://www.polarfoundation.org

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

2011: what a year it’s been for the world, South Africa, and Whale Cottage – unpredictable, up and down, and a year in which one had to rethink every way in which one has run one’s business and life.  Most would say that it’s been one of the worst years ever!  But despite the tough times, there has been a lot to be grateful for as well.  I have summarised some of the high and low lights of the year:

1.  The knock which tourism took, especially from May – August, in being one of the worst winters ever experienced, had an effect on all sectors of the economy.  Restaurants frantically offered specials to gain cashflow, guest houses went back to dropping rates as they do in winter, and few took rate increases in summer, unlike their hotel colleagues, who suffered poor occupancy too.  More hotels and restaurants closed down than ever seen before. The recession in the UK hit South African tourism and wine sales badly, previously our major source market. From 50 % of our business in the summer months in Camps Bay, the UK business will be no more than 5 % this summer.  High airfares and the crippling UK airport taxes have not helped. The tourism situation was so bad that we wrote an Open Letter to national Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, as Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited were not aware of how bad things were in the Cape, and therefore did nothing to market the region and to help the tourism industry. Cape Town Tourism spent all its energy on Twitter, not yet the medium of communication of our average tourist, and on wasteful promotions, and therefore we did not renew our 20 year membership. The welcome increase in German tourists has not made up this shortfall, but we have been delighted to welcome many more South African guests.   The World Cup has become a swearword, the reality of its lack of a tourism benefit becoming clear. A blessing from Santa has been a much improved festive season, with no snow-bound tourists or strong south-easter wind, as happened last year.

2.  Events are hugely beneficial for business, and the Argus Cycle Tour, J&B Met, and Cape Town International Jazz Festival attracted out of town guests. The U2 and Coldplay concerts helped fill beds and delighted Cape Town audiences.  A fantastic outcome of Coldplay’s performance is that the music video for ‘Paradise’ was filmed in our city, the Boland and the Karoo – no better part of the world could have been chosen for this song!

3.  Cape Town has had an exceptional year, the darling of the world, winning the World Design Capital 2014 bid, Table Mountain being named one of New7Wonders of Nature (amid some controversy and as yet subject to verification), named top destination in TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Destination (for what it was worth!), and featuring strongly in the new James Bond book ‘Carte Blanche’.  Our city hotels, especially the Cape Grace and Steenberg Hotel, featured on international top hotel lists. Good news was the sale of the V&A Waterfront to a local company, which is investing in the upgrade of and addition to the country’s most popular tourist destination.

4.   Despite the doom and gloom, there were more restaurant openings, and chef and restaurant staff changes this year than in many years: The Pot Luck Club, Hemelhuijs, Dash, Casparus, Dear Me Foodworld, The Franschhoek Kitchen, Il Cappero, Café Benedict, The Kitchen at Maison, Sotano by Caveau, Knife, De Oude Bank Bakkerij, Ryan’s Kitchen, Caffe Milano, Mozzarella Bar, Cassis Salon de Thé, Power & the Glory, Haas Coffee, Johan’s @ Longridge, Skinny Legs & All, KOS Coffee & Cuisine, Café Dijon @ Zorgvliet, Le Coq, Act and Play Bar at the Baxter, Sunbird Bistro, Societi Brasserie, Jason’s, Bird Café with new owners, Maria’s after a long renovation closure, Toro Wine & Aperitif Bar, Valora, Café Le Chocolatier, Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant after a renovation and chef change, Art’s Café, Spice Route, Mitico, Knead on Kloof, Chez Chez, La Bella, 5 Rooms, Terbodore Coffee Bar, Wale Rose Lifestyle, The Black Pearl, Bistro on Rose, Slainte, Babel Tea House, Rhapsody’s, Café Extrablatt, Harvest, McDonalds in the V&A,  The Mussel Bar, The Franschhoek Food Emporium, Makaron, F.east, Bean There Fair Trade, Sabrina’s, Harbour House in the V&A, MCC Franschhoek, Clarke Bar & Dining Room, Roberto’s, French Toast, Saboroso, Mezepoli, Rocca in the Cape Quarter, and Roca in Franschhoek opening their doors, and new suppliers Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants and The Creamery opening too.

5.  Sadly, the recession was noticeable as it hit restaurants, and it was some of the newer restaurants that were badly hit, including What’s On Eatery, The Olive Shack, Bella Lucia, Blonde, Jardine, Caveau at the Mill, Nando’s in Camps Bay, The Sandbar, The Bistro, Restaurant Christophe, Doppio Zero in Green Point and Clarement, shu, Oiishi Delicious Caffe, Hermanos, The Kitchen Bar, Wildwoods, The Green Dolphin, De Huguenot restaurant, Wildflour, Depasco, Kuzina, and 221 Waterfront.

6.  The eating highlight of the year was the tribute dinner to the closing of El Bulli, one of the world’s best restaurants, by Tokara, Chef Richard Carstens excelling in serving a 13-course meal to a packed restaurant on 30 July, earning him and his team a standing ovation.  This meal alone should have made Chef Richard South Africa’s top chef in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards, but sole judge Abigail Donnelly proved that she was incapable of handling this new role and responsibility, not only in excluding Chef Richard from her Top 10 list, but also in awarding the new Boschendal Style Award to her client Makaron.

7.   Franschhoek evolved as THE wine region, Boekenhoutskloof being recognised as South Africa’s top winery by the Platter Guide, and La Motte the top wine estate in South Africa by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.  In the latter competition, Tokara was selected as top wine estate restaurant in the country. The sale of the Franschhoek Graham Beck farm was announced, and the operation closes mid-year in 2012. The winemaking will take place at Steenberg and at Graham Beck in Robertson, while a Graham Beck tasting bar Gorgeous will open at Steenberg in February.

8.   Hermanus was in the tourism marketing spotlight, when miraculously both the committee of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau resigned, and the Cape Whale Coast Destination Marketing Organisation was disbanded by the Overstrand Mayor.  We had written about the self-interest which had been served by the previous leaders of these two bodies in ‘Lermanus’!  A welcome product for Hermanus is the recently created Hermanus Wine Route, marketing of which will be in the capable hands of Carolyn Martin of Creation.

9.   The Consumer Protection Act was introduced in April, and has shown benefits in product deficiencies and returns.  Little effect has been seen for the tourism industry.  The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa tried to change its accommodation assessment standards, which caused a huge outcry.  Despite changing back to what they had before, many accommodation establishments lost faith in the organisation, and have not renewed their accreditation.

10.  The wedding of Prince Albert II and Princess Charlène in July put South Africa in the world spotlight, not only due to the televised broadcast of the wedding, but also as they celebrated their wedding with a second reception, at The Oyster Box in Umhlanga, now the country’s best known hotel.

11.  This year proved that the ‘social’ in Social Media is a misnomer in many respects, but it is the marketing platform which cannot be excluded.  We celebrated the 10th anniversary of our WhaleTales newsletter, the 3rd year of blogging, and our 1000 th blogpost this year.  We are grateful to our Facebook friends and likers, Twitter followers, and blog and newsletter readers for their support.

It is hard to predict 2012, and we will go with the flow.  2011 has made us tougher and even more thick-skinned, we have learnt to change with changed tourism times.  We look forward to a stable world economy, politics, as well as weather in 2012!

POSTSCRIPT 2/1: The most read posts on our blog in 2011 were the restaurant winter specials, the Festive Season packages, the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Charléne, the review of Casparus, the restaurant summer specials, the review of Gaaitjie in Paternoster, the death in Cape Town of the President of Ferrero Rocher,  the listing of restaurant openings and closures, the Consumer Protection Act, and Table Mountain making the New7Wonders of Nature.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

It was hard to get a grip on the deliberations of the United Nations COP (Conference of Parties) 17 Climate Change Conference, which took place in Durban over the last two weeks, and ended a day late with a last minute agreement reached yesterday, but it certainly placed Durban and South Africa on the world news map.   It also had a magnificent tourism benefit, the Durban hospitality industry saying that it was bigger and better than the 2010 soccer World Cup.

Close to 15000 delegates from 200 countries met for two weeks, and agreed in the 11th hour to one global law regarding greenhouse emissions.  The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action is a bundle of agreements, which extends the Kyoto Protocol by five years, establishes a Green Climate Fund, looks to transfer clean technology to poorer countries, seeks the protection of forests, and addresses further technical issues, reports the Cape Times. No specific deal has been made yet regarding greenhouse emissions, but the principle is that every nation has agreed to reduce these, a first as it includes the worst greenhouse gas offenders USA and China too.  The agreements will be finalised in 2015, and enforceable from 2020.  President Zuma had asked the delegates in his opening address to ‘save tomorrow today’.

Reaction to the outcome of the conference has been mixed, some saying it was a lot of ‘hot air’, was ‘too late’ and ‘too vague’.  Scientists have said that global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2017, to avoid dangerous climate change.   Greenpeace International said that ‘the new accord could take the globe over the 2°C threshold at which we pass from danger to global catastrophe‘, according to a report in The Times. At the Conference, ESKOM and Sasol were named South Africa’s most heavy polluters, reported Business Report. ‘Green bank’ Nedbank funded the Eskom Medupi coal-fired power station, which violates World Bank environmental regulations.

Durban is expected to have generated R1 billion in revenue, having received R200 million from the government and utilising R50 million of its own funds to stage the conference. Accommodation in the city was fully booked, reports The Times, with 160000 bed nights and 495000 meals sold. Delegates supported local restaurants, tourist shops, and transport companies.  Durban was highlighted as a city with good organisational skills and infrastructure.   Critically a delegate commented about the non-climate friendly 5* hotel changing towels every day, and not requesting the guest to indicate when this should be done, a lesson for accommodation establishments to demonstrate their contribution to going green.

Glamour VIP visitors to the conference, including Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as well as Prince Albert and Princess Charléne, attracted further media attention to Durban. The Jolie/Pitt couple rented a villa at Zimbali Coastal Resort, at R8500 per day, reported the Sunday Times. Oprah Winfrey and the President of Panama have previously rented the house. The Monaco royal couple stayed at The Oyster Box again, where the princess had stayed during their South African honeymoon.

At least one COP17 Conference delegate found time to extend his visit to Durban to fly to Cape Town, and is staying at Whale Cottage Camps Bay.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Prince Albert and Princess Charlène will be hosting a second wedding reception for not only South African friends and family, but also for some of the dignitaries attending the 123rd International Olympic Committee session, at the Oyster Box in Umhlanga later today.

While the details of the wedding menu and the attendance at the cocktail function have been shrouded in secrecy, some information about the wedding meal and its 450 guests have been found.  The guests at the lunch will include FIFA President Sepp Blatter, FIFA ex-President Joao Havelange, International Association of Athletics Federation head Lamine Diack, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg (who both attended the Monaco wedding), Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Princess Anne, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, IOC member Sam Ramsamy, King Mswati of Swaziland, and Vivian Reddy, report The Times and Sowetan.  The couple was invited to lunch with President Zuma at King House, the presidential residence in Durban, yesterday.

Executive Chef Kevin Joseph of the Oyster Box Hotel will prepare the meal, saying it is not the largest event that he has catered for, but certainly the most high profile.   With nine years at the hotel, and previous experience at Raffles in Singapore, the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta and the Milestone in London, he is confident that he and his team will do a great job today.  Asked why Princess Charlène had chosen the hotel for the reception, he said that her father “is part of the horse-racing fraternity and the Oyster Box has always been a big part of that world”, reports the Sunday Times.  Earlier this year, Princess Charlène stayed at the hotel, and loved its Indian food.

The menu is a secret, but Chef Kevin says that he was given carte blanche for it, but with the specification that it should contain both South African and French cuisine.  The colour theme for the decor is the Monaco red and white.  Local produce will be organic, and fish, meat and cheeses will come from KwaZulu-Natal. All breads, pastries and ice creams will be made in-house.  An oyster bar will offer oysters prepared in different ways, a butler service keeping guests topped up with ‘beautifully plated’ food.   Boerewors and mealie pap will be on the menu too, as will sardines.  Dombeya Chardonnay and Samara will be served, and Haskell winemaker Rianie Strydom will be one of the reception guests.

“Of course I hope the bridal couple enjoy it, but I really want the guests, international and local, to leave with the conviction that South African hospitality is amongst the best in the world. I want our guests to go home and say, ‘You’ve got to go and experience South Africa – and particularly Durban!”, he said.

Princess Charlène flies to Cape Town tomorrow, to attend a function of the Giving Organisation Trust with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Noordhoek, and visiting the Cotlands HIV/AIDS hospice and the Fynbos Project at Lourensford, both in Somerset West.

POSTSCRIPT 8/7: A special Oysters Charlène dish was created by The Oyster Box for the function, reports AFP, being oysters baked with creamed spinach, curried lentils and asparagus.

POSTSCRIPT 9/7: Princess Charlène’s visit to Cape Town was low-key, but her acceptance of the trusteeship of the Giving Organisation from Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a highlight.

POSTSCRIPT 11/7: Now that the reception is over, and confidentiality agreements no longer apply, more details of the reception menu have been made available by The Sunday Independent.  A total of 60000 canapés, prepared for the 500 guests by a team of 30 chefs, included crayfish with lime and palm sugar glaze and wasabi egg puree; seared tuna loin with Japanese seven spice, crisp seaweed salad, soya and mint dressing;  ostrich bobotie and raisin spring rolls; Dargyl duck liver and truffle paté; mini raspberry and honey Pavlovas; a duo of opera chocolate slices, mini chocolate and bitter orange éclairs; French apple tartlets with frangipani topping; and malva pudding.  Moët et Chandon was served, as well as Dombeya and Bouchard Finlayson wines, the latter wine estate owned by the owners of The Oyster Box.  The wedding cake was a lighthouse, the icon of The Oyster Box.  Sad if true, is the report in The Times today that Prince Albert and Princess Charlène stayed in different hotels whilst in Durban. 

Quick to make capital of the most high profile event The Oyster Box has ever hosted, parent company Red Carnation Hotels has launched a “You’re One in a Million” R1 million wedding package at The Oyster Box and sister hotel The Twelve Apostles in Camps Bay.  The two night stay at The Oyster Box includes a Rolls Royce transfer, accommodation in the Presidential Suite on the wedding night, a microlight trip, ‘free-flowing oysters, champagne, strawberries and chocolate fountains throughout their stay’, use of the spa, a pre-wedding spa party for the female guests, a Zulu dance welcome, a gourmet seafood evening, champagne breakfast, golf for the groom and three friends, hair and make-up for the bride, flowers for the wedding, horse-drawn carriage, the services of a photographer and videographer, a parting gift of an oil painting of The Oyster Box, and two nights at Phinda.  The Twelve Apostles package includes a return business flight, a silk Madiba shirt, champagne, canapés, rehearsal dinner, South African smorgasbord and seafood barbeque, entertainment by Cape Minstrels and a jazz band, champagne breakfast, hair and make-up, manicure and pedicure, barber service for the groom and best man, as well as massages and mini manicure and mini-pedicure, scenic drive for waiting wedding guests on Harley Davidsons or vintage cars, the wedding ceremony, a music trio, butterflies, marriage officer, photographer and videographer, a cheetah for photographs, venue decoration, seven-course banquet, Bouchard Finlayson wines, champagne, wedding cake, a jazz trio, a one hour scenic helicopter flight, a half-day cruise, and a two-night stay at Bushman’s Kloof.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Today Prince Albert and Princess Charlene will wed religiously, after they wed in a civil ceremony in the Throne Room of the palace in Monaco yesterday afternoon.  Their marriage is an exciting marriage for South Africa too, with Princess Charlene proudly bringing her South African pride into interviews and profiles published about the dream royal couple. The streets of Monaco are lined with South African flags, and those from the Princess’ new home country.

Gracing the pages of Vogue for the first time, and Bunte in Germany regularly, as well as the subject of regular TV programmes on European TV stations, including ZDF, Germany’s largest TV channel, as well as The Guardian, New York Times, and Associated Press, the couple and their dream wedding are being widely profiled around the world, the first royal marriage in 55 years in the principality.  The wedding media hype and interest increased dramatically earlier this week, when a French on-line agency reported that Charlene Wittstock had almost become a ‘run-away bride’. 

VIP attendees at the religious wedding ceremony today include the German Chancellor Christian Wulff, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni, President Pal Schmitt of Hungary, President George Abela of Malta, King Carl Gustav of Sweden, King Albert of Belgium, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Crown Prince Frederik from Denmark, Prince Edward, Prince Faisal bin al Hussein of Jordan, models Naomi Campbell and Karolina Kurkova, Sir Roger Moore, President Michel Sleimane of Lebanon, President Mary McAleese of Ireland, Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk representing the South African government, Jeff Radebe, Johann Rupert, Leruo Molotlegi of the Kingdom of Bafokeng, King Letsie of Lesotho, Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Yves Piaget, Gerard Butler, Nadia Comenici, Bernard Arnault, Renée Fleming, Ryk Neethling, Roland Schoeman, Francois Pienaar, Elana Meyer, Terence Bray, as well as Sarah Poewe, ex-Cape Town fellow Olympic swimmer with Princess Charlene, and now resident in Germany and swimming for the German team. 

The royal couple impressed with its care for the environment, their bridal hybrid Lexus car having been especially made by Toyota, driven only under electric motor power, reported the Sunday Times.  More than twenty years ago Princess Charlene expressed her care for the environment, in a school composition she wrote about the ozone layer.  She loves Blushing Brides so much that 500 stems have been flown in from Citrusdal for her wedding flower arrangements.

South  Africa’s cuisine is also in the spotlight, with Chef Dean Uren of Zimbali Lodge and his colleague Peter Mtshali being part of the team which catered for 6000 guests attending the civil ceremony yesterday, and will head the preparation of a special South African meal for 200 guests on Monday, before the royal couple head for Durban, to attend the 123rd session of the International Olympic Committee, the first time that it will be held in Africa.  Chef Dean’s menu is still a secret, but will include pastries stuffed with ostrich bobotie, and kudu prepared with typical boerewors spices, including kameelhout spice, coriander, pepper and cloves, reported the Sunday Times.   The main wedding meal, served in the Opera for 850 guests today, will be prepared by top chef Alain Ducasse and a team of 350.   He owns 20 restaurants, opening two more this year, in Russia and in Doha.  He has 19 Michelin stars in total across his collection of restaurants, and three of them have three stars.  Chef Alain has not revealed what’s on the menu yet, but he will represent the smell, colour and taste of the Mediterranean with fresh line-caught fish, vegetables and fruit for dessert, all ingredients coming from within 10 km of the principality.  Perrier-Jouët champagne will be served, alongside the Haskell Vineyards’ Dombeya Chardonnay and Shiraz, the owner Preston Haskell being a long-standing friend of Prince Albert, and the royal couple have partied at Haskell’s Fresnaye home in the past.   The wedding cake will link to South Africa’s national flower, the protea, reports Bunte.

Although Princess Charlene is now married to the 9th richest person in the world, her tastes are simple, and she longs for Mrs Balls chutney and rooibos tea.  South African music talent was also represented in the wedding celebrations, with Idols co-winner Jason Hartman, who was chosen by Princess Charlene to be the supporting act to an open air concert by The Eagles on Thursday evening. Local boy band Romanz will perform ‘With all my Heart’ tonight, and do a duet with Italian pop star Umberto Tozzi.   Jean-Michel Jarre put on an electronic music show last night, to which all Monaco residents were invited.

Princess Charlene is turning into a style icon, and the most recent Bunte had a feature of beautiful dresses photographed by Karl Lagerfeld.   Her wedding dress has been designed by Giorgio Armani, her favourite designer, an honour shared with designer Albert Kriemler of Akris.  Increasingly Princess Charlene is wearing bold Africa-inspired jewellery with her outfits, reinforcing her heritage.  She looked beautiful in the blue pants suit she wore for the civil ceremony, which she had designed herself and had made by Chanel, reports Associated Press.

Next week the Royal couple leave for their honeymoon in Durban, where they will be hosting a reception at The Oyster Box in Umhlanga next Thursday 7 July, for 300 local friends, family and VIP’s.

We congratulate Prince Albert and Princess Charlene on their marriage, and wish them lots of happiness and a large family.

Ex-Miss South Africa and Top Billing presenter Jo-Anne Strauss will be covering the wedding on SABC3 today, from 14h00 – 20h30.

POSTSCRIPT 2/7: The Weekend Argus has reported that Princess Charlene will be in Cape Town next Friday 8 July, attending a function of the Giving Organisation Trust with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Noordhoek, and visiting the Cotlands HIV/AIDS hospice in Somerset West, and the Fynbos Project at Lourensford.

POSTSCRIPT 2/7: Princess Charlene looked very serious, if not sad, at her religious wedding ceremonyin the palace this afternoon, crying when she left her bridal bouquet at the Sainte Devoté church, as the late Princess Grace did too.  Talk about a third child of Prince Albert is not going away. 

POSTSCRIPT 2/7:  Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk attended the wedding on behalf of President Zuma and the South African government, reports the Weekend Argus:“And as tourism minister he’s really happy there is such a big South African influence in the wedding.  The name of South Africa will be all over the world again as it was a year ago at the World Cup. That will be very good for tourism and for the country”, said the Minister’s spokesman Riaan Aucamp. 

POSTSCRIPT 5/7:  Interestingly, the wine selection at the wedding appears to have caused a swirl in a wine glass!  It would appear that Dombeya wines were not the only South African ones to have been featured at the Royal wedding on Saturday.  Neil Pendock of The Times wrote that Vins D’Orrance claimed that their Chardonnay 2009 Cuvee Andis was the ‘only South African wine chosen for the wedding’, incorrect given the Dombeya wines selection from the Haskell wine estate, which belongs to Prince Albert’s friend Preston Haskell, and confirmed by a Royal Palace-approved media release earlier this year.  A total of 1000 bottles of Dombeya Chardonnay 2010, Boulder Red Shiraz, and Samara 2005 went to Monaco,  and 700 bottles of the Chardonnay and Samara have been sent to the Oyster Box for the cocktail function on Thursday.  Hempies du Toit of Annandale is also reported in Die Volksblad to have made a wine for the wedding, and he called his six year old Merlot Charlbert, with French labels, and supplied 150 Magnums as well as a ‘bunch of 750ml bottles’ as souvenirs of the wedding.  Du Toit is a friend of the Wittstock family, and the year of the Merlot bottling co-incides with the year in which Prince Albert and Princess Charlène started dating. 

POSTSCRIPT 9/7:  The Financial Times has an interesting article on the preparation of the wedding meal by Chef Alain Ducassse and his team, with beautiful photographs.  

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter:@WhaleCottage