Charlene of Monaco turns 45: A look back at the turbulent life of the princess


Writed by - Andy Gocker
  Princess Charlène celebrates her birthday - without Albert

Did the former professional swimmer have any idea that life as a princess can sometimes be SO hard? Charlene von Monaco celebrates her 45th birthday on January 25, 2023, which she will unfortunately celebrate without her husband Albert, as we show in the video above. Since the wedding, the princess has always been in the public eye. It's not always easy for Charlène, as has been shown in recent years in particular. A review.

Charlène met Albert through her swimming career

Charlène Lynette Grimaldi was born Charlène Lynette Wittstock on January 25, 1978 in South Africa to entrepreneur Michael Kenneth Wittstock (77). She grew up with her younger brothers Gareth and Sean from 1990 in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, South Africa. As a young girl she became one of the best swimmers in Africa. In 1999 she won three gold medals (100 m freestyle, 100 m backstroke, 4 × 100 m individual medley) and one silver (4 × 100 m freestyle) at the 'All Africa Games' in Johannesburg - her greatest sporting success. At the Sydney Olympics a year later, she swam fifth in South Africa's 4 × 100m medley relay.

Charlène met the then Crown Prince Albert at the “Mare Nostrum” competition in Monaco, where she won the gold medal in the 200 meter backstroke. In the years that followed, she was often seen with Albert, including at the opening of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, at the Formula 1 race for the Monaco Grand Prix and at the traditional Rose Ball in Monte Carlo.

After years of public speculation as to whether Charlène would become the new princess after Albert's enthronement, the palace announced the couple's engagement in 2010. Before that, she had to convert from the Protestant faith to the Catholic faith, Monaco's state religion. Then the English Charlene became the French Charlène with the 'accent grave' on the first e. So nothing stood in the way of marriage.

Her transformation was complete with her marriage and the birth of her children

  Charlene of Monaco with her family.
Charlène of Monaco with her husband Prince Albert and their children Gabriella and Jacques. © imago/PPE, SpotOn

On July 1, 2011, the two-day wedding celebrations began with a specially composed 'Hymn to Princess Charlène'. A two-euro commemorative coin with portraits of the royal couple was also minted. The jubilation was even greater when it became known that Charlene was pregnant with twins. On December 10, 2014 became a princess Gabriella Therese Marie (8) and hereditary prince Jacques Honore Rainier (8) born.

By then the transformation from the tomboyish high-performance athlete to the elegant princess had long been completed. The fashion czar Karl Lagerfeld (1933-2019), a close friend of the Grimaldi family and especially of Princess Caroline, is said to have said to her at a private fitting in his Parisian studio: 'You will become a style icon. You will become a breath of fresh air and bring modern glamor to Monaco.' Today she is described by 'Vogue' as 'stylish and ready for the stage in looks that conjure up quiet elegance with a tone-on-tone effect'.

Princess Charlène had to struggle with serious health problems

But Charlène has also had some tough times. In the spring of 2021, the 45-year-old fell ill during a trip to her home country of South Africa. According to media reports, she had a serious ear, nose and throat infection, which allegedly even required one or more operations. The princess could not be transported and had to stay in South Africa for several months. When she returned to Monaco, she only stayed with her family for a short time. This was followed by a stay in a rehabilitation clinic in Switzerland. She didn't come home until spring 2022 - and promptly suffered a corona infection, which was mild.

Speculations about her absence have always been denied. The princess said 'Monaco Matin' in May 2022: 'We are only human.' The only difference is that she and her family are constantly exposed to the media. Any weakness would go straight to the public. Her husband always stood by her during this difficult time: 'He did everything to protect our children and me.'

In the video: Princess Charlène shines again on the red carpet

  Princess Charlène beams on the red carpet

Charlène and her marriage to Albert have been scrutinized by the press for years

In fact, the Princess and her family are a kind of favorite target of various media. Since her marriage to Albert of Monaco, she has seemed reserved. Emotional outbursts like 2015 are rare: 'You are the prince of my heart,' she said to her husband, according to 'Paris Match', on the occasion of his tenth anniversary as head of state in Monaco. Apparently that came as such a surprise that Prince Albert couldn't hide his tears of emotion.

It is pointless to speculate whether and how Charlène has changed since her marriage to Albert. Only she knows the answer. One thing is clear: her early life was certainly less complicated than that of a princess and sovereign of Monaco, who has always endured comparisons with her famous sister-in-law, Princess Caroline (65), or her legendary predecessor, Princess Grace Patricia (1929-1982). . Albert's mother died in a traffic accident in 1982 at the age of 52 and since then has seemed to hover over the tragic Grimaldi family as an unattainable vision of an immortal icon. But Charlène has managed to earn the respect of the citizens of the second smallest country in the world (after the Vatican) through her social commitment. Even before her marriage, she worked to help children from underprivileged families. She also fights for nature conservation in her native South Africa.

After Charlène's illness things finally seem to be looking up again

After her recovery from the protracted ENT disease, the princess seems to be on the way to normality. At least that's what the TV journalist Bertrand Deckers reports in his documentary 'Albert and Charlène von Monaco: A couple in turmoil' for the French private broadcaster 'W9'. You can see her walking through the streets of Monte Carlo, where she sometimes drinks a coffee, or when she takes her two children to the Catholic private school in the morning and picks them up again at noon. Charlene has never been more present... She is officially present but also unofficially,' Deckers said.

This was also observed by the magazine GALA: The 'princess, who used to seem so closed off,' talks to fans 'and even lets herself be carried away by selfies from time to time. She seems more relaxed, happier. A sight that the Monegasques had to wait for a long time'.

For her birthday, the princess is said to have planned a party at the palace for family and close friends . But now her husband of all people could thwart her plans. Because, as the Monegasque court has confirmed, Prince Albert has contracted Corona – and this is already the third time. For better or for worse, the princess has to celebrate her day of honor without her husband. (spot on news/ amö)

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