Prince Albert II of Monaco and his wife Charlene welcomed their twin babies to the world on Wednesday, and announced that Jacques, born two minutes after his sister Gabriella, will be next in line to the throne.
Gabriella Therese Marie was born at 5:04 pm followed by Jacques Honore Rainier at 5:06 pm, the palace said in a statement, adding that the newborns and their mother were “doing well”.
The birth of the twins at the hospital named after their grandmother Princess Grace was celebrated with 42 cannon shots, 21 for each child, fired from an old fort overlooking the sea.
Church bells also rang out for 15 minutes, followed by boat horns, as Monegasques toasted their future absolute rulers.
The gender of the twins had been kept a secret during Charlene’s pregnancy, even from their father who said he wanted to be surprised.
According to tradition, an official birth announcement, signed by Albert, will be displayed at the entrance to the palace and the public will be invited to sign a book of congratulations.
Albert already 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 Togolese 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.