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Princess Charlene of Monaco expecting first baby

Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene have said the baby is expected to be born before the end of the year. Credit: Piovanotto Marco/ABACA/Press Association Images

Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco have announced they are expecting their first child, who will be heir to the throne of the tiny principality.

The couple, who wed in 2011, released a short statement describing their "immense joy".

Albert, 55, has fathered two children prior to marrying the South African former Olympic swimmer Charlene, but neither has a claim on the throne because they were born out of wedlock.

The couple's baby will replace Albert's older sister, Princess Caroline, as heir to the throne.