The long-awaited reunion of Albert and Charlene of Monaco has still not been fixed. The wife of the sovereign, in South Africa for almost 7 months, remains unable to travel. Five questions arise about his return to the principality.
It will soon be seven months that Charlene of Monaco has not appeared in the principality. This October 5, 2021, with RMC, Albert II of Monaco has tried once again to be reassuring on a very soon return of his wife. Held in South Africa for health problems, the princess herself has manifested by publishing a picture of her, smiling but thinned, three days earlier. Double act of faith in her recovery, in her marriage. Despite shadows ready to take the light and the poison of the rumor that has spread widely. True that his outbound flight in mid-March to attend the funeral of the King of the Zulus and supervise an action plan of his foundation against poaching was never followed by a return.
In Monaco, the families of the princely couple are organizing and trying to dispel the unease. Each in its own way. On the side of the sovereign, Princesses Caroline and Stephanie have never been so present. With her daughter Charlotte Casiraghi, the former entertained her nephews Jacques and Gabriella, taking them to the annual exhibition of the Canine Society of Monaco on September 11. An attention of “Auntie Caroline” that has particularly moved Charlene. Especially since her little “Bella” is in a cast and stuck in a wheelchair, following a domestic accident that occurred shortly after she started school. A week later, it was Stephanie who appeared with Albert, on the sidelines of a golf tournament organized on the Casino square in Monte Carlo to benefit the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation and Fight Aids Monaco.
The Wittstock clan has been just as active in recent months. Gareth, Charlene’s younger brother and secretary general of her foundation, has maintained and contributed to the media coverage of all the charity events where his sister was expected. Chantelle, wife of Sean Wittstock, the princess’ youngest brother, and director of the South African branch of her foundation, has taken to the podium several times to report on the state of her sister-in-law’s health and to deny the rumors of a divorce. To make people forget Charlene’s absence, to remind them that she remains Princess of Monaco and mother of the principality’s heirs: two strategies that are difficult to coordinate, while Nicole Coste, mother of Albert’s eldest son, has added to the confusion by speaking out in Paris Match…
What could be Charlene’s place and role with the Monegasque sovereign in the coming months and in the longer term? What modus vivendi can they reach, while their twins are not yet seven years old? The personal affair is gradually becoming an affair of state. With many parameters, other than the health of the princess, to take into account…
1- What is Charlene of Monaco really suffering from?
It was only at the end of May, when Charlene’s absence from the F1 Grand Prix in Monaco raised questions about the celebrations planned for the tenth anniversary of the couple’s marriage, that the palace broke its silence. Infection of the ENT sphere, inability to travel. Albert and the children flew in early June, before an operation of the princess in the country of her adolescence, at the end of the same month. No festivities on the Rock on the occasion of the ten years of married life of the princely couple, on July 1st. The illness was more severe than a simple ear infection, as Charlene confided to the South African media Channel24, a fortnight later: before landing in the southern hemisphere, she underwent a sinus lift and a bone graft for dental implants, with serious post-operative complications.
She misses her family, and Albert remains her “rock” through the ordeal, she says. But leaving her lodge in the Thanda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal province is unthinkable. “The doctors have forbidden me to fly”, “I can’t force my recovery”, Charlene pleads. Risk of barotrauma at altitude. In fact, the princess has already lost a lot of weight. In the photos she distributes, it is difficult to recognize the former swimming champion who occupies her convalescence with sewing work for a local nursery and Facetime calls with her twins. A third operation took place in mid-August. Soon followed by a twenty-four hours hospitalization in Durban, at the beginning of September.
2- When will Charlene return to Monaco?
The question has been raised since the beginning of the summer. At the end of August, after a new stay with their children in South Africa and a new operation under general anesthesia of Charlene, Albert assured the American magazine People: “She is ready to go home.” Cautious, he defers to the advice of doctors. But he is confident that Charlene will return to the Rock soon: “I know she mentioned the end of October, but that was before her last appointments. I think we will be able to anticipate.” According to the head of the Grimaldi house, his wife is ready to “embark illegally to reach Europe”, “she is in shape”. The hours following the broadcast of these words prove him wrong.
On the evening of Wednesday, September 1st, Charlene was found unconscious in her lodge and admitted in an emergency, under an assumed name, to a hospital in Durban. After twenty-four hours of examinations, her foundation evoked “a malaise” linked to her ENT problems. The princess left the hospital, her condition is “stable”, as the palace echoed, but “she suffered a lot”, said her sister-in-law Chantell Wittstock. The same day Charlene was hospitalized, the magazine Paris Match unveiled a teaser of an exclusive interview with Nicole Coste, mother of Albert’s eldest son Alexandre.
Since September 1st, curiously enough, there has been no more talk of Charlene’s early or delayed return to the Rock. Jacques and Gabriella have returned to school without their mother. On September 15, the princess gave a sign of life by publishing a strange drawing on her Instagram account: a reminder of her fight against the massacre of rhinos, the work juxtaposes an individual behind binoculars, a dagger, nets of blood and the phrases “when will this war end?”, “the journey can not stop here” or “time is running out” …
3- Did Charlene take offense at Albert’s older children?
Albert’s wife has never posed with her eldest children Jazmin Grace and Alexander, aged twenty-nine and eighteen, even though the sovereign has recognized them. Until this late summer, she had not clarified her feelings towards them, nor reacted to the rumor of another hidden sixteen-year-old daughter. It was Nicole Coste, long invisible in the media, but increasingly present on the Rock, who took the lead in her interview with Paris Match. In her dizzying confessions, the ex-air hostess does not only come back on her love story with the prince in the early 2000s and the complicity that still unites them today. She formally denies “this story of a Brazilian woman who claims that Albert is the father of her child”, “yet another scandal to do harm”.
About her son Alexandre, whose godfather and godmother are Thierry Lacoste, lawyer of the Grimaldi family, and Princess Stephanie, she does not hide that it was complicated to make him accepted by Charlene, after the engagement of the latter with Albert: “She has, for example, changed my son’s room, taking advantage of the absence of his father to install him in the wing of the employees,” she says. “I don’t like it when we are compared,” she says. Does she understand her absence from the Rock? “No, and it’s none of my business. It’s her private life,” she dodges, sibylline.
At the beginning of September, the princess’ entourage made a few corrections to People magazine: “It was really Charlene who brought the whole family together. In a way, she has been the best advocate for Albert’s elders. The princess reportedly “wholeheartedly facilitated” a rapprochement between Alexander and his father, just as she “encouraged Albert to get involved with his son.” Same clemency towards Jazmin Grace. However, “to say that she wants them by her side all the time would be an exaggeration, because there are still several contentious issues. Besides, Charlene has her problems. In recent months, due to her distance and health, she was not accessible.” In the midst of these exchanges, Albert, all nuance and diplomacy: “Charlene’s position has evolved. She has become more welcoming.”
4- Does Charlene really want to play the role of princess?
Raised in Zimbabwe and South Africa, then accustomed to sprints in chlorinated waters, the former swimmer never hid the fact that Monaco was for her an “exotic” mode, with rites and customs to master. Soon enough, her absences and her sad airs were the talk of the town. Albert’s wife had to deny that she had tried to escape before their marriage. Recall that she sometimes missed her country, that the death of friends did not invite her to smile. At the beginning of September, still in People, Albert was annoyed by the slander: no, Charlene “did not leave Monaco in anger”. No, “she did not go into exile”. No, “nothing and no one has pushed her to the limit.” The prince made his mea culpa, he should have reacted “earlier”, so much venom affected them.
Speaking in turn to People, Charlene’s entourage prefers to draw another portrait of the princess, as a warning: “She’s not a timid little thing,” “she’s an Olympic champion, a tough cookie. So much for the midget girls fed up with fairy tales: “She never wanted to look like Kate Middleton or Grace Kelly”, “Charlene is Charlene”, “she is an iconoclast”.
It is true that Albert’s wife did not hesitate to get involved in raising awareness about child drowning. In August, in the greatest secrecy, the prince appointed her vice-president of the Monegasque Red Cross. Her fixation on the protection of wildlife demonstrates other interests, more global, less conventional, than the distribution of gifts to the elderly of the principality. By posting herself as a Zulu warrior princess on her Instagram account this summer, Charlene may have revealed her true nature. And why not?
5- Is a life away from the Rock possible for Charlene?
Princess by marriage and Monegasque by adoption before her, Grace Kelly failed to reconcile a life on both sides of the Atlantic, between protocol and cinema. Albert of Monaco is not her father, the uncompromising Prince Rainier. But like Grace, Charlene is the mother of the heir to the principality, the young Prince Jacques. Of Albert’s four children, he is the only boy from a marriage. The Salic law, which still prevails in Monaco, has sealed his fate. Like all the heirs of the European kingdoms, he could not be raised far from the sovereign, without the latter’s agreement. Charlene was reminded of this fact when Jacques and his sister Gabriella returned to school in Monaco.
By giving birth, the princess has not only earned the respect of the Grimaldi family, as one of her close friends told People magazine. She also found meaning in her life: “She sees herself less as the princess of Monaco than as a protective force for the heirs of the principality.” Her absence has been painful for everyone in recent months. But, according to her friends quoted by People, “she’s a very invested and incredibly protective mother… very loving, who has sometimes stepped aside to spend more time with her children and make sure they live a relatively normal life.” For those who really know the mother of “Jacqui” and “Bella,” “she will never give up on them.