People: Vatican sees Princess Caroline's kids right

Click to follow
THE Vatican has found a way to get around the embarrassment caused by the fact that, because it never recognised the marriage of Princess Caroline of Monaco to her second husband, the Italian Stefano Casiraghi, their children were, strictly speaking, illegitimate. As such, the three children were barred under Monaco's constitution from succeeding to the throne. The Vatican was asked to put things right, which it proceeded to do, albeit at its own pace. It finally annulled Caroline's first marriage, to the French playboy Philippe Junot, 12 years after they divorced. The declaration would have allowed Caroline and Casiraghi to marry in church, so legitimising their children retroactively. But Casiraghi died in a boating accident in 1990 before the annulment could be declared.

Undeterred, the Pope has now signed a decree making the children legitimate. Apparently he is convinced that Caroline and her husband would have married in church if he had lived to see the annulment.

THE VETERAN mercenary Bob Denard had a five-year jail sentence overturned and substituted by a suspended jail sentence in a Paris court yesterday. He was accused of taking part in an attempted coup in Benin in 1977 in which five people died.

Denard began his career in the 1950s by trying to murder Pierre Mendes-France, the French prime minister. After the failed Benin coup attempt he overthrew the government of the Comoros Islands and protected Ahmed Abdullah as president until he turned against him in 1989. Charges of involvement in the murder of the president were dropped at the weekend.

At his trial both the prosecution and defence hailed him as a patriot and he was seen more than once to remove his dark glasses and wipe away a tear. Several French officials testified that he had always acted with France in mind even if the state could not publicly condone his actions. Maurice Robert, France's ambassador to Benin at the time of the coup attempt, described him as 'a loyal and honest colleague who was never rewarded for his trouble . . . Sometimes France closes its eyes but supports an operation when it serves its interests.'

A CHAUFFEUR, Jan Reznik, has been found guilty of causing by negligence the death of Alexander Dubcek, the hero of Czechoslovakia's Prague Spring in 1968. A military court in Ceske Budejovice, in the Czech Republic, gave him a one-year suspended prison sentence and a two-and-a-half-year driving ban. Dubcek sustained fatal injuries in a car accident last September and died a few weeks later.

DURING the Vancouver summit, Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin took a walk from MacKenzie House, the official residence of the president of the University of British Columbia, to the nearby Museum of Anthropology. They paused to admire the view of the Strait of Georgia and a 'clothing optional' beach below. 'Kozyrev likes to go swimming in a pool, but I think this is much better,' said Mr Yeltsin, referring to his Foreign Minister, Andrei Kozyrev. 'Much better,' Mr Clinton agreed. 'We'll send him down there.'

THEY don't get many American generals these days in Ho Chi Minh City, which was Saigon when General Norman Schwarzkopf first came to Vietnam in 1965 fresh from West Point military academy. So 'Stormin' Norman' was not exactly mobbed when he flew into the city at the weekend for a few days' filming for a US television documentary on the Vietnam War. The general was due to film in the port city of Danang and visit the village where he was wounded during the war in which he cut his military teeth. Also on the cards was a meeting with a Vietnamese minister.

(Photograph omitted)