Princess Charlene is back in Monaco after months of separation from her family. Here's a timeline of her and Prince Albert's roller-coaster relationship.

·16 min read
Princess Charlene of Monaco, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Prince Jacques of Monaco and Princess Gabriela of Monaco attend the Monaco National Day on November 19, 2019 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.
Princess Charlene's health complications kept her grounded in South Africa for six months.Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
  • Princess Charlene and Prince Albert celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary together on July 1.

  • Last year the couple spent their anniversary apart on different continents.

  • These periods of physical separation have fueled speculation about Albert and Charlene's marriage.

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, then known by her maiden surname of Wittstock, both attended the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Later that year, they met for the first time.

Princess Charlene of Monaco at the S
The royal couple first met at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.Touchline/Getty Images, JO SYDNEY 2000/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene attended the Sydney Olympics in 2000, according to People. At the time 22-year-old Charlene was representing her native country of South Africa in the swimming competition.

Albert, 20 years her senior, competed in several Olympics with Monaco's Bobsleigh team, according to Royal Central. But at the event in 2000, he was simply a spectator.

However, the couple properly met in person when Charlene visited Albert's home city of Monte Carlo for a swimming competition that year, Vogue reported. It would be six years before the pair took their relationship public.

Five years after he met Princess Charlene, Prince Albert faced the first in a string of paternity suits.

Prince Albert of Monaco and swimmer Charlene Wittstock attend the Opening Ceremony of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games on February 10, 2006 at the Olympic Stadium in Turin, Italy.
The couple, pictured here in 2006, faced challenges in the early years of their courtship.Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Charlene and Albert put on a united front during their first public outing together in February 2006 at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

Known as the "Playboy Prince," according to Royal Central, Albert had acknowledged he was the father of a nearly two-year-old boy called Alexandre in July 2005, CBS reported at the time. Alexandre's mother is Nicole Coste, who met Albert while she working as a flight attendant in 1997 and gave birth to Alexandre in 2003, according to the BBC.

In June 2006, the prince conceded to another positive paternity suit. This time, from a woman who said she became involved with the prince in 1991 and gave birth to his daughter, who was 14 in 2006, according to Hello! magazine.

Representatives for Princess Charlene and Prince Albert declined Insider's request for comment.

In the years leading up to their engagement, Charlene had to make a lot of personal changes.

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock pose before dinner for the 2007 Annual Fight Aids Monaco Gala in Monte-Carlo, Monaco
Charlene and Albert in 2007.Toni Anne Barson Archive/WireImage

Baron Henri Estramant, royal expert and founder of the Royal Bridges society, told Insider Charlene went through a period of "adjustment" in her relationship with a royal.

"She had to change quite a lot," he said. "In old times when a foreigner was marrying another princely family they would bring an entourage with them, but that was no longer the case."

Estramant also said from his experience running in royal circles that he'd heard Charlene expected that once their relationship became more serious, Albert would stop his "flirtations." "She had hopes he would change," he said.

Charlene and Albert announced their engagement in 2010 but in the lead-up to the wedding, rumors about her feelings on the marriage swirled.

Official souvenir items for the Monaco royal wedding on May 28, 2011 in Monaco. Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock of South Africa will be married in Monaco on July 2, 2011.
A French publication reported Charlene was questioning her relationship in the lead-up to the royal wedding.Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

In the lead-up to the 2011 royal wedding, French magazine L'Express reported Charlene attempted to leave several times, once while visiting France for a wedding dress fitting and then at Nice Airport. She was reportedly on her way to South Africa at the time but ended up returning to Monaco, according to The Times of London.

Le Journal du Dimanche, another publication, reported that Charlene had also sought refuge in the South African embassy while in Paris, according to the Daily Mail.

But the wedding went ahead. According to several sources of Le Journal du Dimanche, this was due to an arrangement "reached between the future bride and groom."

Albert and Charlene got married in 2011, but photos of her wiping away tears on the big day added to speculation about their relationship.

Princess Charlene and Prince Albert pictured on their wedding day in 2011.
Charlene wipes away tears on her wedding day.Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

The couple married in a civil ceremony on July 1, 2011, according to the palace.

But after pictures emerged of Charlene wiping away tears the following day, speculation ensued. Reporting for The Guardian in 2011, journalist Ros Coward said "Charlene clearly had her doubts."

Bidisha SK Mamata, a British filmmaker interviewed for a Channel 5 documentary about Monaco's royals, told Insider: "I always respect honesty, emotional honesty, particularly in women, about how to make it very clear that a fairytale wedding is not a fairytale at all."

Charlene denied tears were proof she wanted to run away. According to MailOnline, she told The Times of London Weekend Magazine she "burst into tears" because of "mixed emotions" from rumors.

Following their South African honeymoon, it came to light that Albert and Charlene stayed in separate hotels 10 miles away from each other.

Charlene and Albert pictured after their religious wedding ceremony.
Charlene and Albert pictured after their religious wedding ceremony.Francois Durand/PP/Getty Images

According to a 2011 ABC News interview with Daily Mail reporter Peter Allen, the couple stayed in separate hotels during their South African honeymoon.

The official explanation was that Albert needed to stay at a Hilton to get to early meetings that required avoiding morning traffic, Allen said.

"So he stayed there, leaving poor old Charlene 10 miles up the coast at a seaside hotel," he added.

The palace confirmed the report in a statement issued to the publication, saying: "The Prince was in a meeting at the Hilton with members of the International Olympic Committee from July 5 to 9. For practical reasons, it was better to sleep there."

Charlene and Albert welcomed twins, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques, in 2014.

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene poses with their newborn twins on the balcony of the Monaco Palace on January 7, 2015 in Monaco.
The couple's children were born in December 2014.Monaco Princely Pool/WireImage, VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images

Three years later, the couple welcomed twins, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jaques, Royal Central reported.

At the time Charlene told French magazine Paris Match: "They are magnificent, adorable, I am madly in love with them."

Estramant told Insider it'd long been expected from Albert to produce legitimate heirs. However, the children pose an issue for Charlene should she ever want to end the marriage, he added: "She will never get custody of the children, they are owned by Monaco."

He said like other European royals who wed foreigners he knows of, the couple likely have a clause in their marriage contract stipulating that the children will remain with the Princely family in Monaco should the parents divorce.

After a few quiet years, Albert's past resurfaced in 2020 with reports of a third paternity suit that was set to be disputed in court in the new year.

Princess Charlene and Prince Albert of Monaco attend the traditional Christmas tree ceremony as part of the Christmas holiday season, at the Monaco Palace, on December 16, 2020
Both Charlene and Albert attended the traditional Christmas ceremony at the Monaco Palace in December 2020.ERIC GAILLARD / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ERIC GAILLARD/POOL/AFP via Getty Images, Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

According to Town and Country, a Brazilian woman who claims she met Albert at a nightclub in Rio in 2004 said he is the father of her child. She said the encounter, which the publication reported the prince's lawyers dismissed as fiction, took place over two weeks.

Erich Grimaldi, the lawyer representing the woman, told the magazine in March 2021 that Albert's legal team requested "sovereign immunity," which led to the courts delaying the case.

Grimaldi, who is not related to the Monegasque family, said he remains unintimidated: "As far as I'm concerned, it makes no difference if my counterpart is a prince, a king, a president of state, a politician, or an entrepreneur."

Prince Albert made an official visit to Paris in January 2021 — notably absent was Princess Charlene, said to have been unwell at the time.

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) speaks with Prince Albert II of Monaco (R), during the One Planet Summit, part of World Nature Day, at the Reception Room of the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on January 11, 2021.
Prince Albert went solo on an official visit to Paris to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron.Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Charlene was said to be "unwell" and therefore unable to fly with her husband to Paris in January 2021, the Times of London reported.

Albert made the trip solo, the publication added, meeting both the French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron, while Charlene stayed back in Monte Carlo.

Princess Charlene flew home to South Africa in May 2021. Toward the end of the month, news broke that she had been forced to extend her stay due to an ENT infection.

Princess of Monaco (C) reacts during the memorial service of King Goodwill Zwelithini at the KwaKhethomthandayo royal palace in Nongoma, South Africa, on March 18, 2021.
Two months before she went back to South Africa for an unanticipated stay, Charlene visited her home country to attend the funeral of a Zulu King.PHILL MAGAKOE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

On what started out as a short visit to South Africa, Princess Charlene contracted an ear, nose, and throat infection following a medical procedure she underwent in preparation for dental implants, The Independent reported. She was scheduled to return to Monaco before the 2021 Formula One Grand Prix on May 23, where she was set to be the guest of honor.

News24, a South African outlet, reported the following palace statement: "During a trip to the African continent as part of a wildlife conservation mission, Princess Charlene contracted an ENT infection that does not allow her to travel."

"It was only supposed to be a weeklong, 10-day maximum stay," Albert told People in September.

 

Charlene and Albert spend their 10th wedding anniversary apart in July 2021.

Princess Charlene of Monaco and Prince Albert II of Monaco pose on the balcony after the civil ceremony of the Royal Wedding of Prince Albert II of Monaco to Charlene Wittstock at the Prince's Palace on July 1, 2011 in Monaco, Monaco.
Charlene and Albert's anniversary is July 1 – pictured are the couple waving to crowds from the Prince's Palace after their civil wedding ceremony.Patrick Aventurier/WireImage

With Charlene in South Africa, she and Albert spent their 10th wedding anniversary apart for the first time, according to Hello! magazine.

But Charlene posted footage from a 10-part mini-series about their love story created by the palace to mark the occasion. Captioning the first Instagram video, the princess wrote: "Happy anniversary Albert. Thank you for the blessing of our beautiful children."

In the final post, she thanked their "families, friends and loved ones" for their "gifts, generosity and trust."

Behind the scenes, Charlene told News24 it's been a trying time. "I miss my husband and children dearly," she said. "Albert is my rock and strength and without his love and support I would not have been able to get through this painful time."

Albert and the children visited Charlene in South Africa in August 2021, but not everyone was convinced the reunion was what it seemed.

On August 25, 2021, over three months after she initially flew to South Africa, Charlene reunited with her children and husband.

However, the Instagram photos she shared of the visit, particularly those with Albert, sparked a surge of speculation about their relationship. Both the Daily Mail and The Times of London described the hug between Albert and Charlene as "awkward," the latter adding that she looked "anxious" and "thin" in footage captured by local media around the time of the family visit.

Despite media speculation, Charlene seemed happy — writing in the photo caption, she said: "I am so thrilled to have my family back with me."

Charlene suffered a medical emergency in September 2021 and was hospitalized. Meanwhile, Prince Albert took his children along for an official visit to Ireland.

American actress Sharon Stone, Prince's Albert II of Monaco and Princess Caroline of Hanover pose during the photocall ahead of the 2021 Monte-Carlo Gala for Planetary Health at the Palais de Monaco, in Monaco, on September 23, 2021.
Albert with his sister, Princess Caroline, and Sharon Stone at the palace's Monte-Carlo Gala for Planetary Health.Valery HACHE / AFP via Getty Images

On September 2, 2021, South African publication News24 reported Charlene suffered a "medical emergency" and was rushed to a hospital for an overnight stay.

In a statement published by People at the time, a spokesperson for the palace confirmed the hospitalization was related to complications from her infection.

The same day the statement was released, the official Facebook account for the Palace of Monaco shared photographs of Albert and the children on a state visit to Ireland, leading to speculation about their marriage. Albert denied rumors she had left Monaco "in a huff."

"She didn't leave because she was mad at me or at anybody else," he told People.

Charlene underwent a final operation for her illness in October 2021.

Princess Charlene of Monaco and Prince Albert II of Monaco attend the Monte-Carlo Gala For Planetary Health on September 24, 2020 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.
Charlene and Albert pictured at the Monte-Carlo Gala For Planetary Health in 2020.Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Charlene underwent a final medical procedure to treat her illness on October 8, 2021, according to a statement from the palace, Hello! magazine reported.

"Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco will be placed under general anesthetics for her final procedure taking place today," the statement read. "The Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation wishes her the best with this final operation and her recovery process."

Charlene finally returned to Monaco in November after a six-month separation.

After six months of being grounded in South Africa, Charlene returned to Monaco on November 8, 2021, according to a post from the palace's Instagram.

According to People, she was greeted by her children and Albert in France following an overnight flight from Durban, and together, the family returned to Monaco. Sharing photographs from the day via Instagram, the official account for the palace described the reunion as one "filled with joy and emotion."

However, on November 16, the palace released a statement on behalf of Albert and Charlene saying that she's still recovering from her illness and would not be making any public appearances for the next few weeks.

Just 10 days after her return, Albert said Charlene had once again left Monaco for health reasons.

Prince Albert of Monaco attend the funeral of Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg on May 04, 2019 in Luxembourg, Luxembourg.
Albert announced Charlene had left Monaco after her long-awaited return.Patrick van Katwijk/WireImage

On November 18, the Daily Mail reported Albert told local outlet Monaco-Matin that Charlene had left the principality once again for health reasons.

"She is better but she still needs rest and peace," the prince said. "She is not in the Principality but we will be able to visit her very soon."

The following day, Albert told People that Charlene made the decision to go seek further help and rest at a treatment facility outside of Monaco. "She already knew the best thing to do was to go and have a rest and have a real medically framed treatment," he said. "For privacy reasons, it would have to be someplace outside of Monaco."

Charlene shared an illustration of the family for Christmas as the palace confirmed she was spending the holiday season in a treatment facility.

On December 21, Charlene shared a festive illustration of her, Albert, and the children on her Instagram to celebrate Christmas.

Two days later, Prince Albert released a statement confirming she was still recuperating and would spend the holidays away from Monaco in a treatment facility, Hello! magazine reported.

The statement went on to say that her husband and children would visit her, and "once her health is strong enough," she would return to spend time with the Monegasques.

Representatives for Princess Charlene and Prince Albert declined to comment when contacted by Insider.

Charlene celebrated her 44th birthday on January 25, marking the milestone by sharing a video compiling photographs of her childhood, her family, and her accomplishments.

Princess Charlene.
Charlene celebrated her birthday on January 25.Pascal Le Segretain/ SC Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Charlene marked her 44th birthday by reposting a video shared by her South African foundation in her honor. The three-minute clip, made up of photographs of her childhood, her athletic and public service accomplishments, and her, Albert, and their children, was also shared by the official Palais de Monaco Instagram account with the caption: "Happy Birthday Princess Charlene."

A representative for the princess declined to provide comment to Insider about the milestone and whether Charlene would be celebrating her birthday with her family.

After undergoing four months of treatment in a European health facility, Charlene finally returned to Monaco in March.

Princess Charlene, Prince Albert, Prince Jacques, Princess Gabriella.
Charlene, Albert and their children pictured in 2019.SEBASTIEN NOGIER/AFP via Getty Images

After four months of treatment at a health facility in Europe, Princess Charlene returned to Monaco, People reported on March 12.

According to the publication, the palace issued a statement confirming the news and added that the princess would continue her recovery at home "with her husband and her children by her side."

Charlene planned to wait until "her health is strong enough" to attend events and other royal commitments, the statement continued. It finished by saying Charlene "still needs peace and calm" for her recovery, with her and Albert asking "that their private life and family environment continue to be respected."

Charlene shot down rumors of a divorce or leaving Monaco for Switzerland during Monte-Carlo Fashion Week.

Pascal Le Segretain/SC Pool - Corbis/Getty Images
Charlene, Albert, and their children at a rugby tournament in May.Pascal Le Segretain/SC Pool - Corbis/Getty Images

On May 24, Charlene appeared at a Monte Carlo Fashion Week event alongside 7-year-old Princess Gabriella. According to People, she took the opportunity to address speculation about her marriage with local newspaper Monaco-Matin.

According to People, she asked reporters: "You want to talk about rumors of divorce or my new home in Switzerland?"

She went on to say she found it "regrettable" that certain publications "peddle" rumors about her marriage, People added. "Like everyone else, we are human beings and like all human beings we have emotions, weaknesses, only our family is exposed to the media and the slightest weakness is relayed," she said, according to the publication.

Charlene also called Albert her "protector" and said they took time to address "malicious articles" as a couple.

A new portrait of Albert and Charlene is released in honor of their 11th wedding anniversary.

The couple pictured at the 61st Monte Carlo TV Festival in June.
The couple pictured at the 61st Monte Carlo TV Festival in June.Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

While the couple may have spent their 10th anniversary on separate continents, things were entirely different for their 11th, which took place on Friday.

A Facebook post shared by the Monegasque palace included an official portrait of Charlene and Albert holding hands in the gardens of the Prince's Palace. The princess was wearing a turquoise floor-length gown with peplum detailing, while the prince opted for a navy-blue suit paired with a white shirt and silver tie.

After her noticeable absence at the glamorous Bal de la Rose in Monte Carlo, Charlene joined Albert for the 73rd Monaco Red Cross Ball Gala.

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene at the 73rd Monaco Red Cross Ball Gala.
Prince Albert and Princess Charlene at the 73rd Monaco Red Cross Ball Gala.Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

According to Tatler, Monaco's Bal de la Rose is a hot social occasion in Europe attracting the rich, famous, and royal.

Started by Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco in 1954, the ball has evolved over generations, Tatler added, even though the roaring 1920s theme of the 2022 event seemingly took guests a few chapters back in history. Despite most of the Grimaldi family, including Albert, attending this year's ball on July 8, Charlene was absent.

However, she did later join her husband on the red carpet for the 73rd Monaco Red Cross Ball Gala, which took place on Monday. Wearing a pastel-blue Prada gown, Charlene was all smiles alongside Albert, Hello! magazine reported.

 

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