Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of Princess Charlene after her husband revealed she’s left Monaco, despite only just returning from a 10-month absence, and hinted that she’s struggling with her mental health.
Speaking to Monaco-Matin yesterday, Prince Albert, 63, confirmed his wife, 43, who has appeared increasingly frail, has left the principality and is staying at a secret location while she ‘recovers from tiredness’, away from him and their six-year-old twins.
‘She is better but she still needs rest and peace,’ he said in an article translated from French. ‘She is not in the Principality but we will be able to visit her very soon.
‘I cannot tell you more out of discretion. There is tiredness, not just physical, which can only be treated with a period of rest and monitoring.’
He added their children, Jacques and Gabriella, had ‘suffered from the absence of their mother’ but that he had compensated by stepping up to take a more active role in their lives.
‘For me, it’s pretty simple – my priority is my family,’ the prince said, when asked about juggling the role of being a head of state and a father.
He continued: ‘This is an extremely important time in [the children’s] life – the way they grow up helps them see the world.
‘And if one of the parents is away for medical reasons, the other parent has to be there. I have heard too many friends and acquaintances telling me that they wish they had been there for their children, at a certain age, taken up by their work or their professional life. I don’t want to have these regrets.’
Princess Charlene is no longer in Monaco and is ‘recovering from fatigue that is not just physical’, her husband Prince Albert has revealed in a new interview with Monaco-Matin
Speaking to Monaco-Matin yesterday, Prince Albert, 63, confirmed his wife, 43, who has appeared increasingly frail, has left the principality and is staying at a secret location while she ‘recovers from tiredness’, away from him and their six-year-old twins. Pictured, Charlene at a Monaco gala in September 2020 (left) and looking frail in South Africa in October (right)
Charlene has appeared more frail in recent months, prompting concerns from royal followers. Pictured, the princess in a post shared from South Africa in October, before her return
This photo shared by Charlene from South Africa in July prompted well-wishes from concerned fans. The princess is now receiving treatment for ‘tiredness’
Asked if the children had been ‘more protected’ during their mother’s absence, Albert added: ‘They should be protected in general, but of course they suffered from the absence of their mother. But they had enough distractions and a family circle that made sure they were not lacking in affection.’
The prince also said rumours around the state of his marriage ‘don’t bother him too much’.
It comes after the House of Grimaldi confirmed Charlene will not attend Monaco’s National Day celebrations – one of the biggest events in the royal calendar – on Friday.
Charlene, 43, returned to her husband and twins Jacques and Gabriella in Monaco last Monday following a 10-month absence while she recovered from surgery following a sinus infection she contracted during a solo charity trip to her native South Africa earlier this year.
In the days after her arrival, Charlene’s sister-in-law Chantell Wittstock, told MailOnline the princess may not be returning to the palace and did not plan to immediately return to public engagements, although she later retracted the remark.
Before she left in January, Charlene had raised eyebrows in Monaco by living in a modest two-bedroom apartment above an old chocolate factory about 300m away, rather than in the 12th Century Palace itself. It is thought she could return to living at the property.
Asked whether the Princess would now return to the arm’s-length arrangement the couple had before her departure, Ms Wittstock, married to Charlene’s brother Sean, who is on the board of her charitable foundation, said: ‘Oh, we don’t know yet. She’ll probably be commuting between the two, wherever she’s comfortable.
‘And none of that is clear yet where she’ll be settling or anything like that. I mean, she only just arrived back, so it’s everybody finding their feet. The Princess is very excited to see her kids and they’re very excited to see their mom again.
‘So we’ll see where she’ll be settling. But it will be with her husband and her children.
Ms Wittstock, asked about media stories focusing on the state of her sister-in-law’s marriage to Prince Albert, added: ‘It is absolutely not something I can comment on. But what I can say is the princess is back in Monaco with her husband and children that should say it all.’
Charlene with her son Jacques, six, on her return to Monaco last Monday. Since her return from South Africa, there has been speculation as to when the princess will resume her duties
In the days after her arrival, Charlene’s sister-in-law Chantell Wittstock, told MailOnline the princess would not be returning to the palace and did not plan to immediately return to public engagements. Prince Albert has continued to carry out royal duties on his own (pictured)
Prince Albert added their children, Jacques and Gabriella, had ‘suffered from the absence of their mother’ but that he had compensated by stepping up to take a more active role in their lives. Picture, Albert and Charlene embracing during Albert’s visit to South Africa in August
She later retracted her statement, claiming that Charlene would be staying with her husband and children, but the latest comments from Prince Albert prove otherwise.
Meanwhile, Prince Albert has continued to carry out royal duties on his own.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the couple said: ‘The Princess is currently convalescing and will continue to do so for the coming weeks, allowing Her time to recover from a state of profound general fatigue.’
The statement said the couple have ‘both decided that a period of calm and rest is necessary to ensure the very best recovery for Princess Charlene’s health.’
It continued: ‘In order to protect the comfort and privacy essential to Her recovery, the Princess’ location will remain strictly confidential.
‘As soon as her health permits, the Princess looks forward to once again carrying out her Princely duties and spending time with the Monegasques.’
The claims will inevitably cast a shadow of doubt over the staged photocall last week when Charlene was reunited with Albert, 63, and their children after a 10-month absence from Monaco.
Charlene spent months without her family in her native South Africa while she recovered from surgery following a sinus infection she contracted during a solo charity trip earlier this year.
Separate lives? Before she left in January, Charlene had raised eyebrows by living in a modest two-bedroom apartment above an old chocolate factory about 300m away, rather than in the Palace itself, as illustrated. There is debate over whether she might return to the property
Low-key: Instead of enjoying palatial rooms overlooking the Mediterranean, and a domestic staff including butlers and cooks, the apartment, pictured, is a pared back apartment
The reunion, shared on Instagram, was eyed with scepticism by French commentators amid feverish speculation about the state of the Grimaldis’ marriage.
Charlene’s time away followed fresh allegations last December that Albert had fathered a love-child (which would be his third, if proven) with an unnamed Brazilian woman during the time when he and Charlene, a former Olympic swimmer for South Africa, were already in a relationship.
On the question of Charlene’s return to public engagements, she sounded equally equivocal, saying: ‘She absolutely will – if everything goes well, if she is definitely still healing and recovering.
‘That doesn’t just happen overnight. She’s definitely going to be taking it easy. And yeah, her main focus right now will be spending time with her children and her family.
Charlene, who wed Prince Albert II of Monaco in 2011, has been living in her home country of South Africa for much of this year, and the extended stay has stoked speculation that the royal couple may be headed for divorce. Albert took their children to visit in August
How Charlene and Albert made solo outings in South Africa and Monaco during nine months apart
January 27 – Charlene is pictured with Albert for the Sainte Devote Ceremony in Monaco.
March 18 – Charlene is pictured at the memorial for the late Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini at the KwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace in Nongoma, South Africa
April 2 – Charlene posts an Instagram picture of herself, Albert and their twins Jacques and Gabriella for Easter.
It is unknown where the image was taken.
May 8 – Albert, Jacques and Gabriella attend a Grand Prix event in Monaco without Charlene
May 10 – Albert attends Monaco Gala Awards in Monaco without Charlene
May 18 – Charlene shares her first picture from her conservation trip in South Africa
June 1 – Prince Albert II, Jacques and Gabriella attend event at Oceanic Museum in Monaco
June 3 – New photos emerge of Charlene on her conservation trip
June 5- Charlene puts on a united front as she shares a photo with her family to mark her niece’s fifth birthday with her brother’s family and Albert and the twins in South Africa
June 7 – Albert and the twins attend the World Rugby Sevens without Charlene
June 17 – Prince Albert attends Red Cross Summer concert in Monte Carlo with his sister Princess Caroline of Hanover
June 18 – Prince Albert appears alone Monte Carlo TV Festival
June 24 – Charlene’s foundation releases a statement saying the royal is unable to travel and is undergoing procedures for an ear, nose and throat infection
July 2 – Charlene and Albert mark their 10th anniversary separately. ‘This year will be the first time that I’m not with my husband on our anniversary in July, which is difficult, and it saddens me,’ Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene said in a statement.
July 3 – Albert appears with glamorous niece Charlotte Casiraghi at the 15th international Monte-Carlo Jumping event, which is part of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco,
July 27 – Prince Albert attends Olympics alone in Tokyo
August 13 – Charlene undergoes a four-hour operation. The reason is not announced
August 25 – Charlene shares photos of Prince Albert, Gabriella and Jacques visiting her in South Africa
August 31 – Speculation mounts in the media about couple’s relationship
September 1 – Charlene is admitted under an alias to the Netcare Alberlito Hospital after suddenly ‘collapsing’
September 2 – She is discharged, with a statement from the Palais Princier reading: ‘Her Highness is closely monitored by Her medical team who said that Her condition was not worrying’
September 23 – Prince Albert attends the 2021 Monte Carlo Gala for Planetary Health
September 29 – Prince Albert is joined on the red carpet by actress Sharon Stone for a first look at the eagerly anticipated James Bond release
September 30 – Charlene releases a stylish video promoting her anti-poaching campaign from her South African bolthole
October 3 – Princess Charlene shares a photograph of herself smiling in front of a bible in her first snap since being discharged from hospital following her health scare
October 5 – Prince Albert attends Sportel Awards Ceremony in Monte Carlo with nephew Louis Ducruet
October 6 – Albert tells RMC radio Charlene is ‘ready to come home’
October 8 – Princess undergoes surgery in South Africa
November 8 – Charlene arrives back in Monaco
November 13 – Prince Albert attends Expo 2020 in Dubai without Princess Charlene
November 16 – Royal household confirms Princess Charlene will not attend National Day celebrations on November 19
– Prince Albert attends a Monaco Red Cross event without Princess Charlene
November 17 – Prince Albert reveals Princess Charlene has left Monaco and is recovering in a secret location
‘All we can say right now is all of her procedures in South Africa were a success. So medically the doctors have cleared her to fly back. And that’s why she’s obviously back in Monaco with her kids.’
She said the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, which promotes water safety and wildlife conservation in Africa, would soon expand to cover the whole continent.
‘The main reason for coming to Africa in the first place was to launch more Foundation projects, which is when she fell ill and the Foundation team in South Africa absolutely carried on with all of those, making sure that everything happened exactly the way she wanted it.
‘Even during recovery, in between procedures, the princess still tried to be completely hands-on and on the ground and work with us.
The foundation will also be expanding into the whole of Africa as of next year.
‘As far as Charlene goes. The outlook is is positive and you know she’s going to get back to full strength and be full steam ahead. It’s not going to happen overnight.’
The new development will certainly add fuel to the intense speculation over the future of the marriage of Charlene and Albert.
Monday’s photos were greeted with a hefty dose of scepticism by the French media.
Albert was waiting for her at the Monte Carlo helipad, along with their six-year-old twins, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques. The family were joined by a hand-picked photographer inside the Palace walls for the ‘reunion’ photos.
But there was already doubt cast over the couple’s living arrangements.
‘Reunion of Albert and Charlene of Monaco: but where exactly do they sleep?’ was the headline question in the respected French celebrity outlet Gala on Tuesday.
And Voici – another popular magazine read widely across Monaco and France – ran with: ‘Charlene of Monaco back: the Princess breaks the silence and forgets to mention her husband’.
This was a reference to Charlene using a social media video to thank everybody who had helped her through months of ill-health, without name-checking Albert at all.
In the streets in the shadow of the 12th century Prince’s Palace, people could not conceal their concern for Charlene this week, having seen the photos of her looking so obviously frail.
‘We are glad to have her back, but she doesn’t look well and it feels we don’t yet have the full picture,’ said one cafe owner on the Rock, in his 50s, who asked not to be named.
He admitted that in years past, he like many Monegasques, had expressed frustration at the way Charlene has been less visible than other royals.
‘There was a while when there was a sense that she was a reluctant princess,’ he said, ‘but this is different – there’s obviously something not quite right either with her or the marriage and for whatever reason we’re not being told what.’
There certainly appears to be a wall of silence around Charlene, especially since she retreated behind the ramparts of the Palace, at least for the time being.
Her Palace press officer said she could not return calls from MailOnline and did not reply to a list of questions we sent her.
Doubts about the central relationship of Monaco’s royal family are not new of course.
Several residents living in the narrow medieval alleys of Monaco Ville confirmed to MailOnline that before she left for South Africa Charlene was spending most of her time outside the Palace at the Chocolate factory apartment.
‘We often saw her outside the Palace and she would usually be alone or with a bodyguard,’ said one source, ‘but she was never with Albert – it was obvious she chose to spend most of her time in the apartment rather than the palace.’
Another Monte Carlo source who knows the couple well told MailOnline: ‘The way to stop all the friction and put an end to the speculation about their marriage is for Charlene to proudly move back into the Palace and start living like a proper Princess.
‘That’s what the people of Monaco want, because they love their Royals, and don’t want them living separate lives.’
Charlene came in for criticism before she travelled to South Africa for dividing her time between several properties outside the Palais, the official residence of the Sovereign, Albert II.
Instead of enjoying palatial rooms overlooking the Mediterranean, and a domestic staff including butlers and cooks, Charlene chose the Chocolate Factory.
It only had two bedrooms, and had been used in the past by Albert’s sister, Princess Stéphanie.
Stéphanie, 56, led an extremely turbulent personal life herself that included two divorces and high-profile affairs with security guards and an elephant trainer.
Charlene spent months without her family in her native South Africa while she recovered from surgery following a sinus infection she contracted during a solo charity trip earlier this year. Pictured, Albert with Charlene on a visit to see his wife in South Africa in August
Princess Charlene’s trials and tribulations in the Monaco royal family
1987 – Bea Fiedler, a German topless model, claims her son Daniel was the prince’s son.
1992 – An American national files a paternity lawsuit against the Prince, claiming that he was the father of her daughter, Jazmin Grace.
2000 – Princess Charlene meets Prince Albert at the Mare Nostrum swimming competition in Monte Carlo
2005 – In May, a former flight attendant claims that her youngest son, whom she named Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste, was Prince Albert’s child. She states that his parentage had been proven by DNA tests requested by the Monegasque government.
On 6 July, a few days before he was enthroned on 12 July, the Prince officially confirms via his lawyer Lacoste that Alexandre was his biological son.
2006 – After a DNA test confirmed the child’s parentage, Albert admitted, via statement from his lawyer, that he is Jazmin Grace’s father.
2010 – Princess Charlene and Prince Albert announce their engagement
2011 – Princess Charlene was said to have bolted two days before the royal wedding after hearing Prince Albert had a third love child during their relationship. It was alleged that Charlene tried to flee home to South Africa three times before her ‘arranged marriage’, at one point taking refuge inside her country’s embassy in Paris.
Monaco officials were said to have coaxed her back by brokering a deal between the Prince and his reluctant bride that she provide him with a legitimate heir. After that she would be free to leave of her own free will.
During the wedding, Charlene was in floods of tears, while her husband looked on impassively. Later in the year, Princess Charlene confessed she felt ‘very lonely’ in Monaco
2012 – Princess Charlene was reported to be ‘depressed’ at her failure to provide her husband with a legitimate heir.
2014 – Pregnancy was announced in May. In December Charlene gave birth to twins Princess Gabriella and heir to the throne Prince Jacques.
2017 – Princess Charlene visits Africa, tells media: ‘I am African and this is my heritage. It will always be. It’s in my heart and in my veins.’
2019 – In a rare interview, Princess Charlene confessed it is ‘sometimes hard to smile’ and said the year had been ‘very painful’In another interview, she said she found motherhood ‘exhausting’
2020 – Charlene debuts a shocking half-shaved hairstyle. It is announced Prince Albert of Monaco will appear in court in the new year to fight explosive claims he fathered a third love child with a secret girlfriend before marrying his now wife Princess Charlene.
2021 – January 27 – Charlene is pictured with Albert for the Sainte Devote Ceremony in Monaco. It is the last time she has been seen in Monaco this year.
Charlene also escaped Royal protocol by staying at Roc Agel, a mountain retreat on the outskirts of Monaco originally restored for Albert’s late mother, the Hollywood star Grace Kelly who became Princess Grace before her tragic death in a car crash on the treacherously steep road approaching Roc Agel.
Charlene was also a frequent visitor to a holiday home owned by friends on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
Paris Match, the celeb bible, has always had particularly close ties with the Grimaldis – the ancient dynasty now headed by Albert and Charlene.
‘Charlene and Albert on the Verge of Breaking Up?’ was the lead headline in an edition of Match in August.
‘There will be no photo for their 10th anniversary wedding anniversary,’ it noted.
All the high-end French publications – the kind that Albert and Charlene would normally grant fawning interviews to – concurred.
The upmarket and very conservative Madame Figaro ran with the stark headline: ‘Are Charlene and Albert II of Monaco on the verge of divorce?’
Historian and author Philippe Delorme told the magazine: ‘Lots of people got the impression it was an arranged marriage, it’s true.
‘Albert chose a wife who resembled his mother and Charlene clearly felt very ill at ease in this Grace Kelly role they wanted her to play.
‘As Karl Marx put it: History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.’
The 2011 wedding itself was an ostentatious three-day event featuring a concert by the Eagles. But onlookers were concerned by photos of the bride in tears with her husband appearing distant, but Charlene insisted later she was just emotional.
Charlene has been notable by her absence from every single flagship event in the tax haven principality this year.
They have included the Monaco Grand Prix on May 23, and the Fashion Awards hosted by the Princess’s own charitable foundation on May 18.
Charlene infamously shaved half her head in the style of a punk rocker last December.
This was seen as the first public sign of a worsening crisis that could end in a multi-million pound divorce.
Charlene’s exile in South Africa began a month after it emerged last December that Albert was facing yet another paternity suit.
A Brazilian woman who cannot be named for legal reasons said her 15-year-old daughter was the result of an affair with Albert in 2004.
Albert and Charlene were not yet engaged at this time, but they had known each over for four years after meeting at a swimming gala in Monaco in 2000.
Lawyers for the claimant were scheduled to demand a DNA test from Albert at a court in Milan earlier this year, while his own counsel branded the action ‘a hoax’.
Neither party is now commenting, suggesting some kind of generous settlement may have been reached, as happened with Albert’s earlier love children.
They are Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, who is now 29 and the result of Albert’s affair with an American estate agent, and Alexandre Coste, 17, whose mother is a former Togolese air hostess.
Both children were struck off Monaco’s line of succession in return for vast financial settlements.