Princess Charlene has broken cover after denying divorce rumours with her husband Prince Albert.
The 44-year-old Olympic swimmer looked casual in a beige jumper as she stepped out in Milan on Friday without her dazzling three-carat engagement ring, which she does not frequently wear.
It comes after French magazine ROYAUTÉ claimed that the prince and princess are in the process of separation.
The mum-of-two opted for comfort in black jeans and cream loafers as she made her way into the Four Seasons hotel.
The rumour gained momentum when the article was repeated by gossip sites, which sparked speculation on social media.
Princess Charlene breaks her cover after denying divorce rumours with husband Prince Albert as she stepped out in Milan without her dazzling three-carat engagement ring
The Palace’s press office said they ‘formally deny the malicious rumours peddled by the magazine.
A spokesperson said: ‘I would like to formally deny the malicious rumors peddled by the French magazine Royauté. Please disregard this article which is totally unfounded.’
The royal couple married in July 2011 after the prince proposed with a handcrafted pear-cut diamond flanked by smaller diamonds designed by Paris-based Italian jeweller Repossi.
Later, during the wedding service, the couple exchanged 18-carat white gold platinum rings by Cartier, with Princess Charlene laughing as she placed the ring on her husband’s finger.
However since her wedding day, the royal has often gone without either ring – and on occasion even worn different rings on her wedding finger.
In the early days of marriage, the royal was often spotted showing off the dazzler, but since 2017 she’s seldom been seen pictured wearing the rings – even at formal events.
The 44-year-old Olympic swimmer looked casual in a beige jumper as she stepped out on Friday without her engagement ring
It comes after French magazine ROYAUTÉ claimed that the prince and princess are in the process of separation (pictured at Monaco Red Cross Ball in 2022)
The princess, who is originally from Cape Town, has been in her home country for months after contracting a ‘serious sinus infection’.
In August, she underwent a ‘four-hour operation under general anaesthesia’, although it was not made clear whether this was linked to the sinus infection.
The couple deny any rift and say that Charlene hasn’t retuned home for health reasons – but rumours of unhappiness in the couple’s marriage long predate Charlene’s trip to Africa.
The mother-of-two missed her 10 year wedding anniversary but is expected to return to the principality this month, after undergoing a ‘four-hour operation under general anaesthesia’ in August – although it was not made clear whether this was linked to the sinus infection.
The mum-of-two opted for comfort in black jeans and cream loafers as she made her way into a hotel
The princess appeared to go makeup free as she opted for comfort and she accessorised with diamond earrings
Princess Charlene is often spotted in chic looks and expensive jewellery – but one piece she’s often seen without is her dazzling three-carat engagement ring (pictured in 2019 at the Monte Carlo gift distribution without the ring)
Charlene sported a pearl ring on her wedding finger at Fete de la Saint Jean in 2020 (Pictured)
Charlene and Albert reunited shortly after for the first time in months after the monarch and their children flew to South Africa, but photographs of the pair embracing were branded ‘awkward’ by a body language expert.
The pair have denied rumours of rift – with Prince Albert hit back at rumours of a rift in his marriage – insisting Charlene ‘didn’t leave in a huff’ and remains in South Africa only because of ‘medical complications’ following a ‘severe ear, nose and throat infection’.
Known for her style, Charlene often wears gloves while out covering her jewellery, while many photos of her show her left hand hidden away.
Photos of her at the Monaco National day Gala concert in 2012 show her wearing the ring, while she was seen wearing it again to greet the crowd from the Palace’s balcony during the Monaco National Day Celebration in 2017.
But during the same celebration in 2019 she was without the ring as she stepped out of the palace on the arm of Albert to greet crowds.
Several times throughout 2019 and 2020 she was in public without her engagement ring or wedding band.
Albert proposed with a handcrafted pear-cut diamond flanked by smaller diamonds designed by Paris-based Italian jeweller Repossi, pictured on Charlene’s finger in 2012
In the early days of marriage, the royal was often spotted showing off the dazzler. One of the last images of her wearing her engagement ring was taken on Monaco’s National Day in November 2017
Then a newly wed – Charlene wore the ring in 2012 to Monaco’s National Day ball
She attended a Christmas gift distribution in 2020 in Monte Carlo – sporting a dramatic shaved haircut and no ring.
Again in September she ditched the jewel for The Crossing Calvi Monaco Water Bike Challenge.
In May 2019, she was again ringless to meet Lewis Hamilton as he won the Monaco Grand Prix and in June 2020 she sported an entirely different ring at Monaco Cathedral for Elizabeth-Ann De Massy’s funeral.
She was also without it as early as 2018 – when she ditched the diamond again to attend the Christmas gift distribution.
She was without it again at the 71th Monaco Red Cross Ball Gala in 2019 – and sported a pearl ring on her wedding finger at Fete de la Saint Jean in 2020.
Since 2021 – where she’s been in South Africa – she hasn’t been pictured with ring.
In his first interview since returning from visiting his wife in South Africa, Albert told People magazine of Charlene: ‘She’s ready to come home.’
Despite Charlene being admitted to hospital after a ‘sudden collapse’ rumours are rife that a rift with Prince Albert, rather than health issues, is what’s keeping her away from Monaco.
The royal even wears different rings on the fourth finger of her left hand, instead of her wedding and engagement rings. Pictured: Stepping out on Monaco’s National Day in November 2019
The royal told People that the speculation over the state of his relationship with the Olympic swimmer has ‘affected’ them both, but that he didn’t address it early because he ‘was concentrating on taking care of the kids’.
The mother-of-two has apparently since had several corrective procedures – including one in late June that resulted in her missing her 10th wedding anniversary on July 1 and a four-hour long operation on August 13.
On September 1, Charlene was admitted to a local hospital after suddenly ‘collapsing’. She was later released but doctors are ‘still establishing exactly what happened’, according to a statement from Chantell Wittstock, director of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation.
Speaking to People, Albert said: ‘She didn’t leave Monaco in a huff! She didn’t leave because she was mad at me or at anybody else… She didn’t go into exile. It was absolutely just a medical problem which had to be treated.’
He added that his wife had planned to travel to South Africa to reassess her foundation’s work and to spend time with her brother and friends.
But the ’10-day maximum stay’ has lasted several months because of the infection, which the prince said resulted in ‘all these medical complications’.
Yet the last time Charlene was spotted in Monaco was in January, and the extended time apart from her husband and two children has sparked speculation about the state of the royals’ marriage.
Albert admitted he ‘probably should have addressed’ the rumours sooner, but was ‘concentrating on taking care of the kids’ and believed they would just ‘go away’.
‘Of course it affects her, of course it affects me,’ he told the magazine. ‘Misreading events is always detrimental… We’re an easy target, easily hit, because we’re in the public eye a lot.’
In recent weeks, lifestyle magazines across Europe have speculated feverishly that the royal couple could be headed for divorce. French magazine Madame Figaro stated the images ‘failed to convince the Monegasques’ amid reports Charlene is looking for a house in Johannesburg.
According to The Telegraph, the magazine asked: ‘How long can she remain away from her children, her duties?’
‘How long will the fight against rhinoceros poaching remain the Princess of Monaco’s top priority?
‘How long will Albert II of Monaco go on bearing this affront, which is becoming ridiculous?’
Historian Philippe Delorme said that ‘lots of people got the impression it was an arranged marriage’ between Charlene and Albert, adding: ‘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’
The mounting speculation about the couple’s marriage comes after Charlene shared professional photographs of her reunion with Prince Albert online, saying she was ‘thrilled’ to have her family back.
She shared a series of photos cuddled up with her kids in South Africa with the caption: ‘I am so thrilled to have my family back with me (Gabriella decided to give herself a haircut!!!) Sorry my Bella I tried my best to fix it,’ referring to her daughter’s choppy fringe.
However a body language expert told FEMAIL Charlene showed ‘no emotional bond’ towards her husband Prince Albert in the images.
Judi James said that rather than being the loved-up reunion photo one would expect of a couple surrounded by split rumours, the royals’ poses suggested ‘no signs of connection between awkward-looking Albert and Charlene’.
Charlene has been in South Africa since at least March, with media reports suggesting she is looking for a house there.
The prince, who already supports two illegitimate children, is alleged to have been in a relationship with a Brazilian woman which resulted in a daughter in 2005.
The claim, which his lawyers dismissed as a ‘hoax’, is particularly painful as he was dating Charlene at the time, having met in 2000.
However, Charlene has publicly supported her husband, and the palace have reiterated she is only in South Africa because she’s unable to fly.
She sported an entirely different ring at Monaco Cathedral for Elizabeth-Ann De Massy’s funeral
On August 13, the Monaco palace released a statement saying Charlene was to undergo surgery.
It read: ‘Princess Charlene will undergo an operation today, Friday, August 13, for four hours under general anaesthesia.’
The princess will not return to Monaco until at least the end of October.
Princess Charlene, who has been well enough to conduct interviews from South Africa and has been seen out and about, has used the time to promote her anti-poaching initiative, Chasing Zero.
Charlene’s last formal engagement was on January 27 when she joined Albert for the Sainte Devote Ceremony in Monte Carlo. She has not been seen at home since.
Instead she has been keeping followers updated through social media posts and media interviews, in which she has spoken candidly about missing her children and described her husband as ‘her rock’.
Speaking to South Africa Radio 702’s host Mandy Wiener, the royal said: ‘[It’s] very frustrating, terribly frustrating. I can’t wait to get back to them, I can’t wait to see my children.’
Again in September she ditched the jewel for The Crossing Calvi Monaco Water Bike Challenge.
She attended a Christmas gift distribution in 2020 in Monte Carlo – sporting a dramatic shaved haircut and no ring.
Charlene revealed: ‘It’s the longest period I’ve actually been away from Europe, let alone my children, but I’m FaceTiming them most days and they’ve been here and will be returning to see me again after my procedure.
‘It’s an amazing opportunity [to be here] but I’m very sad I can’t be with my children this summer in Europe.’
She added that she was initially only supposed to be in her native South Africa for ten to 12 days for a conservation trip with her Princess Charlene of Monaco foundation.
However, the royal had a problem ‘equalising her ears’ and was told by a doctor that she was suffering from a serious sinus infection.
‘It’s taken time to address the problem that I’m having,’ explained Charlene. ‘I cannot go into full detail, but I cannot force healing so I will be grounded in South Africa until the end of October.
‘The reason being I cannot fly above 3,000 metres otherwise I’ll have a problem with my ears.
‘I feel well, I feel good, it’s just obviously a waiting game for me, but I’ve had a great opportunity to understand a little bit more about South Africa, the environment, the needs and it’s been wonderful to be back in South Africa, and I think at this time it’s crucial that people are aware of certain things via my foundation.’
Charlene joined the video interview from bush country in the KwaZulu-Natal region.
She has also shared videos released by the Monaco royal palace to mark her and Albert’s 10th wedding anniversary, which took place in July. The couple spent the milestone thousands of miles apart.
But royal sources have suggested the princess has ‘no plans’ to return soon. A palace source told Paris Match: ‘The Princess has, for the time being, in reality, no intention of returning.’
The separation is also affecting Charlene’s relationship with the people of Monaco.
Stéphane Bearn uses an impeccably sourced piece in the latest Paris Match to discuss the torturous separation.
He describes subjects in Monaco becoming increasingly angry about their runaway Princess, as they criticise everything from Charlene’s mood swings to her appearance.
‘In Monaco, since the departure of Charlene, tongues have loosened,’ Mr Bearn writes. ‘In the whirlwind of a hard-nosed court, her fine shine is rubbing off. Her sad looks are regarded as haggard.
‘Disappointed Monegasques talk about her anger, her whimsical moods, which are as changeable as her hair.’
He added: ‘The Palace 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 would have discredited and isolated herself.’
During her trip, Charlene also debuted a dramatic new shaved hairstyle.
She showcased the ‘French crop’ hairdo – featuring a longer strip on top of the head and dramatically shaved back and sides – in snaps shared on her charity’s Instagram page in late May.
The royal first stepped out with a dramatic half-shaved head in December 2020 but has since gone even shorter and bolder with the cut.
Charlene and Albert’s marriage has been plagued with rumours from the start.
The couple met at the Mare Nostrum swimming competition in Monte Carlo in 2000, announced their engagement in 2010.
Former Olympic swimmer Charlene reportedly tried to flee Monaco for her native South Africa on three separate occasions before the royal wedding after discovering Albert had allegedly fathered a love child – his third – while they were together.
Monaco officials were said to have coaxed her back by brokering a deal between the Prince and his reluctant bride, saying she could leave once she had provided him with a legitimate heir.
One source said at the time: ‘Charlene will provide an heir, then if things don’t go well, she will receive a generous divorce settlement once she’s served a decent amount of time.’
Charlene was seen in floods of tears on her wedding day in 2011.
Just one year after their wedding, it was reported that Charlene was ‘depressed’ at her failure to provide her husband with a legitimate heir.
Her pregnancy was announced in May 2014, and in December that year she gave birth to twins Princess Gabriella and heir to the throne Prince Jacques.
In the 10 years since, Charlene has rarely spoken publicly of her experience.
In 2017, the Princess made an emotional return to Africa, where she spoke about how much the continent means to her.
‘I am African and this is my heritage. It will always be. It’s in my heart and in my veins,’ she told Eyewitness News.
Last year she admitted life was ‘very painful’, saying: ‘I have the privilege of having this life, but I miss my family and my friends in South Africa and I’m often sad because I cannot always be there for them.’
It’s been a tumultuous start to the year for the royal, after news emerged that her husband is facing a paternity suit over a love child born in the early years of their relationship.
The 34-year-old claimant – who cannot be named for legal reasons – says she had a passionate affair with Albert, leading to the birth of their daughter – whose name is also classified – on July 4, 2005.
A tumultous two years for Princess Charlene that saw her spend 10 months in South Africa away from her children, admitted to a treatment facility in Switzerland and strike a rumoured £10 million a year deal with Albert
2021: HEALTH ISSUES, 10 MONTHS IN SOUTH AFRICA AND ADMISSION TO A SWISS TREATMENT FACILITY
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 from an unknown locatoin.
May 8 – Albert, Jacques and Gabriella attend a Grand Prix event in Monaco without Charlene
May 18 – Charlene shares her first picture from her conservation trip in South Africa
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 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.
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
September 1 – Charlene is admitted under an alias to the Netcare Alberlito Hospital after suddenly ‘collapsing’
September 2 – Charlene 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 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 6 – Albert tells RMC radio Charlene is ‘ready to come home’
October 8 2021 – Princess undergoes more surgery in South Africa
November 8 – Charlene arrives back in Monaco. Prince Albert said within hours it became clear she was ‘unwell’
November 13 2021 – Prince Albert attends Expo 2020 in Dubai without Princess Charlene. Following his return from the trip, Prince Albert holds an intervention with Charlene’s brothers and a sister-in-law in which Charlene ‘confirmed’ she would seek ‘real medically-framed treatment’ outside of Monaco
November 16 – Royal household confirms Princess Charlene will not attend National Day celebrations on November 19
November 17 – Prince Albert reveals Princess Charlene has left Monaco and is recovering in a secret location
November 19 – Prince Albert reveals Charlene is in a treatment facility ‘elsewhere in Europe’ after a family intervention
November 25 – Sources tell Page Six Princess Charlene ‘almost died’ after sinus surgery and ‘lost nearly half her body weight’ due to being ‘unable to swallow’. They also said it was ‘unfair’ to portray her as struggling with mental health issues
December 11 – Royal breaks her silence on Instagram to wish her twins Jacques and Gabriella a happy seventh birthday
December 24 – Princess Charlene of Monaco is still ‘months from recovery’ but will reunite with Prince Albert and their twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriela for Christmas at treatment centre
2022: ROAD TO RECOVERY
January 25 – Princess Charlene celebrates her 44th birthday alone: Royal shares slideshow of snaps from happier times featuring Prince Albert, their children and her swimming career as she continues to receive treatment outside of Monaco
March 14 – Palace announces that Charlene is back in Monaco but will take time to ‘further strengthen her health before gradually resuming her official duties’
April 17 – Charlene is pictured for the first time in a family portrait to celebrate Easter
April 30 – Charlene makes her first public appearance since leaving a treatment facility as she attends Monaco E-Prix with Prince Albert
May 7 – The royal makes her second public appearance at the Sainte Dévote Rugby Tournament
May 10 – French media claims Prince Albert has agreed to pay his wife £10million a year to make sure she fulfils her consort role
May 25 – Princess Charlene continues her return to public life at Monte Carlo Fashion Awards with daughter Princess Gabriella
May 28 – Princess Charlene continues her return to public life as she joins Prince Albert at F1 in Monaco for the first time since 2019
June 6 – Prince Albert says he was hurt by the ‘vicious’ rumours about his wife’s absence from Monaco and his family ‘missed the princess a lot’
June 16 – Princess Charlene appears sombre in all-black ensemble for Catholic festival
June 18 – Princess Charlene of Monaco looks glamorous in all-green ensemble as she steps out with Prince Albert for the Monte Carlo TV Festival opening ceremony
June 23 – Albert and Charlene attend a science exhibition opening with their children in Oslo – her first overseas visit since returning to public duties
July 4 – Albert and Charlene! Monaco royals hold hands in new portrait to mark 11 years of marriage
July 5 – Charlene visits the Princess Grace Hospital Centre in her first solo engagement since her return to Monaco
July 9 – Albert attends Monaco’s Rose Ball without his wife, despite it being the highlight of the social calendar
July 18 – Royal joins Prince Albert at the 73rd Red Cross Gala in Monte Carlo
July 20 – Couple visit The Vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis
September 4 – Charlene joins Prince Albert and their children Gabriella and Jacques for a rare family appearance at traditional picnic in Monaco
September 6 – Princess Charlene and Prince Albert of Monaco take their twins Jacques and Gabriella, 7, to class for their first day back after the summer holiday
September 12 – Couple attend a memorial service for the late Queen Elizabeth II
September 19 – Princess Charlene attends the Queen’s funeral in London alongside her husband Prince Albert
October 4-5 – Princess Charlene wows on a solo surprise visit to Paris Fashion Week
October 21 – Princess Charlene of Monaco makes emotional solo visit to an animal shelter as she sends ‘all her love’ to fans following her return to royal duties
November 8 – Royal couple attend the annual Princess Grace Awards in New York
November 16 – Princess Charlene attends Monaco’s Red Cross Christmas gift distribution with Prince Albert
November 19-20 – Princess Charlene attends Monaco National Day celebrations with Prince Albert and presents awards at 2022 World Rugby Awards ceremony
December 2 – Princess Charlene takes her seven-year-old twins to Monaco Christmas village along with her model niece Charlotte Casiraghi
December 13 – Attends Monaco’s Red Cross Christmas gift distribution with her husband Prince Albert
December 14 – Family attend Christmas tree ceremony in Monaco
December 15 – Princess Charlene of Monaco reveals she feels ‘much better’ and has ‘much more energy’ after lengthy health crisis in an interview with Monaco Matin – the first since returning to royal duties
December 21 – Royals release a stylish family Christmas card
December 23 – ‘Proud’ Prince Albert praises Princess Charlene for ‘turning it around in an incredible way’ after lengthy health crisis, saying she had a ‘very tough year’
Albert received a handwritten letter from the child, who is now 15, in September last year reading: ‘I don’t understand why I grew up without a father, and now that I have found you, you don’t want to see me.’
Legal papers were also filed, as lawyers for the claimant called on Albert to undergo a DNA test – just as he did before finally being identified as the father of two illegitimate children born in the 1990s and early 2000s.
In January, Charlene spoke publicly for the first time since the allegations, telling Point de Vue: ‘When my husband has problems, he tells me about it. I often tell him, ‘No matter what, no matter what, I’m a thousand percent behind you. I’ll stand by you whatever you do, in good times or in bad.’
The mother-of-two went on to say she also often tells her husband she will ‘protect him’ and will ‘always be by his side.’
Charlene, who was raised in South Africa and represented the country at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, travelled to Thanda Safari in KwaZulu-Natal in January to learn more about being done by the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation South Africa to help save rhinos from poachers.
The princess took part in conservation operations including rhino monitoring and tracking, deployment with the Anti-Poaching Unit, educational wildlife photography sessions, and a White Rhino dart and dehorning exercise.
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