Who Is Princess Charlene and Why Are Royal Watchers Concerned About Her Right Now?

Sure, the members of the British Royal Family are pretty used to making headlines, but lately, we’ve been closely following a different—and much lesser-known—royal: Princess Charlene of Monaco. How come? Well, Princess Charlene, who is the wife of Prince Albert II (who himself happens to be the son of actress Grace Kelly), has been fairly absent from the spotlight this year due to health issues. In response, royal followers have grown quite concerned and expressed confusion about what exactly is going on. Here’s everything you need to know.

First and foremost, who is Princess Charlene of Monaco?

As explained above, Princess Charlene is the wife of Prince Albert II, who is the head of state in Monaco, which is a small European country on the coast of the Mediterranean between France and Italy. She was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and moved to South Africa when she was 12 years old. She had a career as an Olympic swimmer, which is how she came to meet Albert. (The pair first met at a swim meet in 2000 and made their courtship public at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Italy.) They officially married on July 1, 2011, not long after Prince William married Kate Middleton. (The pair attended the Cambridge nuptials, too.) In 2014, Charlene and Albert gave birth to twins Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques.

When did things first appear complicated?

Some point back to their wedding day when Princess Charlene was seen looking quite tearful after the ceremony and both bride and groom appeared quite solemn throughout the day, per reports. Charlene herself chalked her emotions up to the overwhelming nature of the day while many wondered if it had to do with recent allegations of infidelity against her groom. (He already had two confirmed children from previous relationships—and both are constitutionally barred from the line of succession.) In addition to the sights of Charlene crying, she also attempted to flee and return to her hometown in South Africa more than once, including during a visit to Paris for a bridal gown fitting.

What happened with Princess Charlene during the pandemic?

Well, it was slightly before Christmas last year when Princess Charlene appeared in public with her head partially shaved. She later denied that the style (dubbed a half-hawk) had any meaning telling Point de Vue magazine, “The remarks of ‘But what is she doing?’ and ‘But it’s not royal!’ — I know these all too well. And I have nothing to say to them, except that we’re in 2021 and that in these times which are so troubling, so difficult, there are other, much more important subjects which deserve our attention.”

That’s not all. In May 2021, Charlene traveled home to South Africa, leaving her family behind in Monaco, for a two-week trip, but experienced health complications following a sinus infection. She stayed there for months and endured multiple surgeries, sharing via a palace spokesperson that she was unable to fly due to an infection that prevented the pressure in her ears from equalizing. She missed her ten-year wedding anniversary during this time, but welcomed her family for a visit the following month, posting photos on Instagram with the caption: “I am so thrilled to have my family back with me.”

She finally returned to Monaco at the beginning of November 2021, again taking to Instagram to share her family’s reunion with a note: “Happy day today Thank you for keeping me strong!!”

But then she missed National Day…

The celebration-filled day honors the country’s independence and Charlene was set to participate, but the palace announced last minute that she had again left Monaco and was in an undisclosed location, later revealed to be a treatment facility. Prince Albert himself spoke out to Monaco-Matin: “[Princess Charlene] is better, but still needs rest and peace. She is not in the Principality, but we will be able to visit it very soon. I cannot say more for discretion. There is fatigue, not just physical, that can only be treated with a period of rest and follow-up.” Albert also spoke to People magazine saying that Charlene was “overwhelmed and couldn’t face official duties, life in general or even family life.” He also said her treatment would last several weeks and denied that it has anything to do with their marriage. “I’m probably going to say this several times, but this has nothing to do with our relationship. I want to make that very clear.”

For National Day, Albert appeared alone with his two children on the Monaco Palace balcony. His kids held up signs that said: “We love you mommy” and “We miss you mommy.” Other than a caption-less Instagram post from Charlene of the Monaco flag, we haven’t heard from her at all.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Royal watchers are concerned about Charlene and curious about what’s going on. They’re also wishing her well during this time. In this week’s episode of Royally Obsessed, my co-host Roberta Fiorito and I discuss the latest on Princess Charlene—tune in via the link below.

For more about the royals, listen to the Royally Obsessed podcast with co-hosts Rachel Bowie and Roberta Fiorito. Subscribe now or follow us on Instagram @royallyobsessedpodcast.

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