Princess Charlene of Monaco’s ‘excuses’ about her health are ‘wearing thin’ and she has no intention of ending her six-month exile in South Africa any time soon, according to sources.
An official portrait of Prince Albert, 63, and his 43-year-old wife staring out across the Mediterranean from their resplendent Palace was meant to mark the couple’s 10th wedding anniversary last month.
Monegasques living in the tiny but fabulously wealthy city-state and tax haven on France’s southern coast are hugely loyal to their Royals, and expect a traditional family photograph whenever there is a historic date to celebrate.
Sadly, the society lensman normally hired to produce such pictures – not just for local subjects but also for the international media – was told his services were not required this time around.
Instead, even normally reverential outlets such as the highly respected Madame Figaro in Paris used long dated images of the couple, asking: ‘Are Charlene and Albert II of Monaco on the verge of divorce?’
Princess Charlene of Monaco’s ‘excuses’ about her health are ‘wearing thin’ and she has no intention of ending her six-month exile in South Africa any time soon, according to sources (pictured in July)
Prince Albert II of Monaco, HSH Prince Jacques, HSH Princess Gabriela and Kaia Rose Wittstock at the ABB FIA Formula E Monaco E-Prix in May
Those responsible for such devastating headlines note that the couple are geographically some 8,500 miles apart.
Charlene is in her native South Africa, and the emotional gap from her husband, who is currently supporting the Monaco team at the Olympics in Japan, appears even wider.
So much so that Stéphane Bearn, easily the most high-profile and trusted Royal commentator in France, 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.
Charlene is in her native South Africa, and the emotional gap from her husband, who is currently supporting the Monaco team at the Olympics in Japan, appears even wider. She infamously shaved her head in the style of a punk rocker last December (pictured in May)
‘Disappointed Monegasques talk about her anger, her whimsical moods, which are as changeable as her hair.’
Charlene infamously shaved her head in the style of a punk rocker last December – an act which many saw as the first public sign of a worsening crisis that could end in a multi-million pound divorce.
Referring to the couple’s six-year-old twins, who remain in Monaco with their nannies, Mr Bearn writes: ‘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.’
Even now, the official reason given for Charlene’s interminable stay in South Africa is a personal medical condition.
The former Olympic swimmer is suffering with chronic ear problems – a complaint that is common among former elite athletes who spent long periods dunking their heads underwater.
Charlene has been notable by her absence from every single flagship event in the tax haven principality this year. Prince Albert has looked a forlorn solo figure, just as he did at the Tokyo Olympics last week (pictured on July 27)
Discussing minor surgery that has apparently prevented her taking a private jet back to France from Johannesburg, Charlene said earlier this month: ‘I was instructed by the doctors that I can’t fly yet because I’m unable to equalise my ears and therefore cannot fly about 20,000 feet.’
She added: ‘I miss my husband, my babies – Jacqui and Bella – and my doggies terribly, but I can’t force a recovery of bone and membrane, it takes time.’
A Monaco source who knows the couple well meanwhile suggested the excuse was ‘sounding very thin, especially considering how many times it has been reeled out’.
She added: ‘Patients with very serious problems are flown to other parts of the world all the time.
‘The Princess has the finest medics in the world looking after her – making a flight home extremely safe and comfortable would not be that difficult.’
Another Palace source was even more forthright, telling Paris Match: ‘The Princess has, for the time being, in reality, no intention of returning.’
Charlene has been keeping at her public profile through social media – supporting animal welfare charities, especially ones connected to rhinos, while also paying tribute to her family back in Monaco
Instead, she has been seen house-hunting near Johannesburg, close to where she was brought up in a modest suburban family as Charlene Wittstock, the daughter of Mike Wittstock, a photocopy machine salesman.
Charlene has been in South Africa almost constantly since it emerged last December that Albert was facing yet another paternity suit.
A Brazilian woman who cannot be named for legal reasons said her now 17-year-old daughter was the result of a passionate affair with the Prince 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.
Albert and the twins paid a brief visit to South Africa in early June, the Palace has confirmed, but they otherwise keep in touch via video link
Those that are known about 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.
Charlene, however, has produced the heirs who will be expected to keep the House of Grimaldi, the ancient dynasty that has ruled over Monaco for centuries, flourishing.
Her relationship with Albert, son of the late Rainier of Monaco and Hollywood film star Grace Kelly, is naturally considered vital.
Those who attended their glittering wedding at the start of July 2011 certainly expected it to be for life.
They included Prince Edward and his wife, the Countess of Wessex, along with heads of state and showbiz stars such as Shirley Bassey and Andrea Bocelli.
Those who attended Prince Albert and Princess Charlene’s glittering wedding at the start of July 2011 in Monaco certainly expected it to be for life
Now, however, 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.
Instead, Albert has looked a forlorn solo figure, just as he did at the Tokyo Olympics this week.
The sporting extravaganza has played a prominent role in the couple’s past – both have competed (Albert in the four-man bobsleigh) and they first went public with their romance at the 2004 Winter Games in Italy.
Rather than being at her husband’s side today, Charlene has been keeping at her public profile through social media – supporting animal welfare charities, especially ones connected to rhinos, while also paying tribute to her family back in Monaco.
Albert and the twins paid a brief visit to South Africa in early June, the Palace has confirmed, but they otherwise keep in touch via video link.
Royal commentator Stéphane Bearn concurs, writing in reference to Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella: ‘By causing the break-up, Charlene would lose what she always said was most dear to her.’ (Pictured: Prince Albert and Charlene with their children in September last year, after the Crossing Calvi Monaco Water Bike Challenge)
In an oddly formal-sounding social media post, Charlene wrote: ‘My daily conversations with Albert and my children help me a lot to keep my spirits up, but I miss being with them.
‘It was important to me that my family visited me in South Africa. It was wonderful to see them. I can’t wait to return to them.’
Another Monaco-based source said: ‘It was assumed that Charlene would travel back to Monaco with the Princes and Princess but when that didn’t happen, alarm bells started ringing particularly loudly.
‘Yes, Charlene is saying all the right things about Albert on social media, but it all sounds a bit hollow and distant – almost like she does not want to be depicted as the bad guy in all this.’
Royal commentator Stéphane Bearn concurs, writing in reference to Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella: ‘By causing the break-up, Charlene would lose what she always said was most dear to her.’