The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Nov. 10 that France’s Paris Match magazine was justified in revealing the existence of Prince Albert II of Monaco’s illegitimate son because the story was in the public interest.
The judges said a French court was wrong to convict the magazine for publishing a 10-page spread on the issue in 2005, because the story had an importance that “went beyond the scope of (the prince’s) private life.”
The Strasbourg-based court first made the ruling in June last year, but the French government appealed the decision.
Prince Albert admitted shortly after the story was published that he was the father of a baby boy born out of wedlock to French-Togolese flight attendant Nicole Coste in 2003.
In the Paris Match interview, Coste, then 33, described her affair of several years with Albert, whom she said she met on a Paris-Nice flight in July 1997.
The article was illustrated with several pictures of Albert holding a child in his arms.
In France, Paris Match was ordered to pay 50,000 euros to Albert, who took over the throne in the principality in April 2005.
In the ruling, the judges said the boy’s existence “could have public interest because of the rules of succession in the principality” which exclude children born outside marriage.
Albert, 56, married former Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock in 2011 and the couple had twins in December last year. Their son, Jacques, is now next in line to head the 700-year-old House of Grimaldi. The prince appears to have mended ties with the French magazine, posing with Charlene and their babies shortly after their birth.