Princess Charlene of Monaco made a return to the world stage this week as she attended the Queen’s funeral in London – in what was her highest profile appearance to date after a difficult 18 months.
Zimbabwean-born Charlene spent some 10 months in South Africa last year, after contracting a serious sinus infection during a solo charity trip. The illness left her hospitalised and delayed her return to Monaco.
After returning to the principality last November, the mother-of-two almost immediately left and went to Switzerland to receive treatment for ‘exhaustion’.
She returned to public duty in May, making the occasional public appearance with her husband Prince Albert and her children Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella by her side.
She posed with Albert for a portrait marking their 11th wedding anniversary, and joined him in taking her children back to school earlier this month.
However she made her biggest return to public duty earlier this week, when she joined her husband at the Queen’s historic funeral in London, joining 2,000 other mourners at Westminster Abbey.
Princess Charlene of Monaco made a return to the world stage this week in her highest profile appearance to date after a difficult 18 months for the royal mother-of-two
Zimbabwean-born Charlene spent some 10 months in South Africa last year, after contracting a serious sinus infection during a solo charity trip (pictured, in South Africa)
The Monaco palace has consistently denied media reports of a rift between Charlene and the principality’s ruler Prince Albert, who were wed in 2011.
However rumours the pair were incompatible were sparked from the outset, with Charlene attracting a barrage of attention over an apparent bad dose of pre-wedding jitters which, reportedly, saw her seeking refuge in her country’s embassy and gaining the moniker ‘the Runaway Bride’.
In December 2020, it seemed the relationship was plagued by rumours, with a third paternity suit emerging.
The allegations in December 2020 claimed 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 were already in a relationship.
After 10 months away, Charlene returned to Monaco last November (left) but only for a brief period. She has since started doing the occasional royal duty with her husband and children by her side (right, in May)
The woman said she met the prince in a nightclub in Rio de Janeiro in 2004 — when Charlene and Albert were supposedly dating.
Her daughter, a 15-year-old Brazilian schoolgirl, sent a handwritten note in Portuguese to Prince Albert at the Royal Palace last September.
Albert’s legal team call the allegations ‘a hoax’ and the legal team of the woman concerned declined to comment.
It was due to come to court in Milan in February but never commenced. Some believe the matter has been settled.
Soon after the allegations came to light in December 2020, Charlene famously shaved half her head in the style of a punk rocker. By the spring, she left for South Africa.
She had a 10-month absence in her native South Africa last year, where she contracted and was hospitalised for a serious sinus infection that delayed her return to Monaco.
The Monaco palace has consistently denied media reports of a rift between Charlene and the principality’s ruler Prince Albert, who were wed in 2011 (pictured, Charlene crying on their wedding day)
She underwent surgery in October for an ear, nose and throat infection after checking in under a pseudonym in a Durban hospital, a palace source said at the time.
Speaking to Page Six, a source described as the royal’s friend said: ‘It is unfair that she is being portrayed as having some kind of mental or emotional issue.
‘We don’t know why the palace is downplaying that she almost died in South Africa.’
The source explained the royal had a severe ear, nose and throat infection, which resulted in ‘severe sinus and swallowing issues stemming from an earlier surgery’.
The friend added: ‘She has not been able to eat solid food in over six months because of all the surgeries she has since gone through. She has only been able to take in liquids through a straw, so she lost nearly half her body weight.’
Elsewhere friends of Princess Charlene gave Tatler a rare insight into what the royal is really like, insisting that the former swimmer is a force to be reckoned with.
One source rubbished any public perception that Charlene is ‘naive’ and trapped in an unhappy marriage with Albert, saying: ‘I don’t for one second think she did not know what she was doing when she married him.’
Soon after the allegations of a third love child from Prince Albert came to light in December 2020, Charlene famously shaved half her head in the style of a punk rocker (pictured)
But one warned the mother of Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, seven, is not the type to be blindly controlled by the Monaco royal household.
‘Charlene is no Princess Di.’ one said. ‘She may come across as being extremely naïve, but nothing could be further from the truth. She is very good at keeping her smarts under wraps.’
After her return to the principality in November, Charlene left almost immediately to receive treatment for ‘exhaustion’ at a Swiss clinic.
Friends previously told Page Six that the mother-of-two ‘almost died’ while she was in her home country, while her husband spoke out to say she is suffering from ‘exhaustion, both emotional and physical’.
‘She was clearly exhausted, physically and emotionally. She was overwhelmed and couldn’t face official duties, life in general or even family life,’ Albert told People magazine in November.
The mother-of-two was absent from Monaco for 10 months, and spent the period in South Africa
A palace statement released on December 23 revealed Albert and the couple’s children were planning to visit Charlene during the Christmas holidays, as well as asking for the family’s privacy to be respected.
It added that the princess ‘is recuperating in a satisfactory and reassuring manner, although it may take a few more months before her health has reached a full recovery.’
But distinguished royal journalist Stephane Bern has long speculated that Charlene’s litany of supposed health problems could simply be a cover-up to excuse her from participating in royal activities alongside her husband.
Bern said in January of last year, Charlene was expected to make a trip to visit French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, but suddenly came down with an illness.
The 44-year-old returned to Monaco last November, but almost immediately left again to receive treatment outside the principality (pictured with her husband Prince Albert and their twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriela)
‘The princess had contracted a sudden gastroenteritis,’ he said.
‘The Palace has had to invoke a suffering princess so often that the Monegasques today find it hard to believe. By crying wolf, the mother of Jacques and Gabriella has discredited and isolated herself.’
The couple released an official family portrait to mark Easter, but body language experts noted at the time that Albert looked ‘tense’ in the image, while highlighting the close bond shared by Charlene and her children
She returned to public duty in May of this year, joining her husband Prince Albert, 64 and their twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, seven, at Monaco’s E-Prix.
However body language experts said she appeared ’emotionally isolated from an animated Prince Albert’ despite trying to ’emphasise her role as a loving wife’.
Since then, Princess Charlene has slowly been making an entrance back into royal life – and the couple celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary
Since May, she has since joined her husband and children at a TV festival, religious ceremonies and a royal visit to Norway (pictured)
Since then, she has joined her husband and children at a TV festival, religious ceremonies and a royal visit to Norway.
She has gone on to take part in solo engagements alongside the joint appearances with her husband.
And she has also taken part in more family occasions publicly – including joining her children on their first day of school.
In July, she shared a photograph alongside Prince Albert as they celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary.
It is unknown what her current relationship with Prince Albert is like. French media has claimed she is receiving £10million a year to appear by her husband’s side at public outings.
Leading French media reported the ruler of the tax haven Mediterranean principality was doing everything possible to keep Charlene ‘at his side at public events’.
Major French outlets that specialise in celebrity news said Charlene’s sudden re-appearance was welcomed by all Royal watchers.
This week, the royal appeared deep in thought as she attended the Queen’s funeral with her husband Prince Albert
The couple were sat among a host of other foreign royals from around the world (pictured, third row on the left)
The Prince has also fathered two other children outside of wedlock. Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, who is now 29 and the result of Albert’s affair with an American estate agent, and Alexandre Coste, 18, whose mother is a former Togolese air hostess.
Both children were struck off Monaco’s line of succession in return for vast financial settlements.
Charlene has directly attempted to address the talk about a third possible love child.
She told Point de Vue magazine last January: ‘When my husband has problems, he tells me about it. I often tell him, ‘No matter what, I’m a thousand percent behind you. I’ll stand by you whatever you do, in good times or in bad.’
Her appearance at the Queen’s funeral earlier this week was her most high profile to date, and represented a return to the world stage for the Monaco royal.
It was a return to the world stage for Princess Charlene, who has been largely out of the spotlight in the last 18 months
Earlier this month, she paid an emotional tribute to the Queen on her Instagram page, sending her condolences to the British Royal Family.
She posted a photo of the late monarch on Instagram to express her sorrow. Her tribute followed messages from royal families around the world including Spanish King Felipe VI and Dutch King Willem-Alexander.
Posting on Instagram, Princess Charlene wrote: ‘I am deeply saddened at the news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, a truly great lady whose dedication and service was recognised throughout the world during the 70 years of her reign.
‘Today, my thoughts are with her family, her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and the British people.’
And at the funeral, she walked arm-in-arm with Prince Albert, wearing a lengthy, modest, black dress with black heels.