Monaco’s royal family have been rallying around Prince Jacques and Gabriella while their mother Princess Charlene receives treatment for emotional and physical exhaustion, but sometimes the best support in the world comes from your twin.
Today, protective Prince Jacques, six, was seen putting a reassuring arm around his sister’s shoulders as the pair planted a South African tree in honour of their absent mother, who was admitted to a treatment facility within days of her return to Monaco, following a 10-month hiatus in her home country.
The tree-planting ceremony took place to mark the centenary of Soroptimist International, a women’s organisation promoting peace and working to improve the lives of women and girls around the world.
Dressed in a cheerful red jumper, Prince Jacques looked every inch the protective brother as he placed an arm around his sister’s shoulders and gave a thumbs up to the camera, while his sister looked adorable in a grey knitted dress decorated with hearts.
Prince Albert was on hand to help with the tree-planting after stating that he’s determined to be as present as possible for his children while their mother is absent for ‘medical reason’.
It comes days after the twins held up heartbreaking signs saying ‘We miss you Mommy’ and ‘We love you Mommy’ when they appered on the balcony for Monaco’s National Day celebrations on Sunday.
Sibling support: Prince Jacques placed a protective arm around his twin sister as the youngsters a South African tree on the terraces of the Casino to mark the centenary of the Soroptimist International Organisation and in honor of Princess Charlene of Monaco
Subtle tribute: Wearing a grey knitted dress decorated with hearts, teamed with leggings and black lace-up boots, Princess Gabriella helped to plant a tree from South Africa, giving a nod to her mother Princess Charlene’s home country
By their side: Prince Albert accompanied his children to the tree planting ceremony after stating that he wants to be as present as possible while their mother Princess Charlene is absent for ‘medical reasons’
Short-lived reunion: In interviews published on Friday, Albert, 63, explained his wife, who has appeared increasingly frail, acknowledged she needed help after he staged a family intervention just days after her return from Monaco (pictured)
At the weekend, Prince Albert revealed his wife has been admitted to a ‘treatment facility’ where she will remain for ‘at least several’ weeks after it became ‘evident she was unwell’ within hours of her return to Monaco following 10 months in South Africa.
The royal, 63, explained his wife, who has appeared increasingly frail, acknowledged she needed help after he staged a family intervention with her brothers and sister-in-law.
Albert, who earlier this year said his wife was suffering from a sinus infection, did not reveal details of her illness but ruled out cancer and Covid. He hinted at mental health struggles, saying she ‘was overwhelmed and couldn’t face official duties, life in general or even family life’ and is suffering from ‘exhaustion, both emotional and physical’.
Speaking to People magazine, Albert said the family reunion in Monaco two weeks ago initially went ‘pretty well’ in the first few hours, but it then became ‘pretty evident’ that Charlene was ‘unwell.’
He said the former Olympian ‘realised she needed help’, adding: ‘She was overwhelmed and couldn’t face official duties, life in general or even family life.’
The Prince said the final decision making process about treatment involved an intervention-style meeting with family members, explaining: ‘I sat her down with her brothers and a sister-in-law. She had already made her decision, and we only wanted her to confirm it in front of us. She wanted this.
Moving: Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella held up signs saying ‘miss you Mommy’ and ‘love you Mommy’ at Monaco’s National Day parade on Friday. It came after their mother Princess Charlene was admitted to a treatment facility
Stepping in: Albert, pictured with his children on National Day, is taking a more present role in his children’s lives
‘She already knew the best thing to do was to go and have a rest and have a real medically framed treatment. And not in Monaco. For privacy reasons, it would have to be someplace outside of Monaco.’
Meanwhile he revealed Gabriella and Jacques would ‘visit’ Charlene once they had the ‘medical go-ahead’, saying the six-year-old twins ‘knew she was tired’ and ‘not quite herself.’
French magazines such as Voici claimed that Charlene has gone to Switzerland, where there are numerous specialist private medical clinics.
Albert explained: ‘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. These are not problems within our relationship; not with the relationship between a husband and wife. It’s of a different nature.’
He went on to tell the magazine her current state was a result of ‘several factors which are private’.
Rallying around: Albert and his children have been supported by the Monaco royal family in Charlene’s absence. Pictured, Prince Albert, Princess Caroline of Hanover, left, Prince Jacques, Princess Stephanie and Princess Gabriella
Albert continued: ‘She hadn’t slept well in a number of days and she wasn’t eating at all well. She has lost a lot of weight, which made her vulnerable to other potential ailments. A cold or the flu or God help us, COVID.’
He said it is ‘not cancer-related or personal relationship issue.’
In another interview in Monaco-Matin, translated from French, he said. ‘There is tiredness, not just physical, which can only be treated with a period of rest and monitoring.
How Charlene and Albert made solo outings in South Africa and Monaco during ten months apart
January 27 – Charlene is pictured with Albert for the Sainte Devote Ceremony in Monaco.
March 18 – Charlene is pictured at the memorial for the late Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini at the KwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace in Nongoma, South Africa
April 2 – Charlene posts an Instagram picture of herself, Albert and their twins Jacques and Gabriella for Easter.
It is unknown where the image was taken.
May 8 – Albert, Jacques and Gabriella attend a Grand Prix event in Monaco without Charlene
May 10 – Albert attends Monaco Gala Awards in Monaco without Charlene
May 18 – Charlene shares her first picture from her conservation trip in South Africa
June 1 – Prince Albert II, Jacques and Gabriella attend event at Oceanic Museum in Monaco
June 3 – New photos emerge of Charlene on her conservation trip
June 5- Charlene puts on a united front as she shares a photo with her family to mark her niece’s fifth birthday with her brother’s family and Albert and the twins in South Africa
June 7 – Albert and the twins attend the World Rugby Sevens without Charlene
June 17 – Prince Albert attends Red Cross Summer concert in Monte Carlo with his sister Princess Caroline of Hanover
June 18 – Prince Albert appears alone Monte Carlo TV Festival
June 24 – Charlene’s foundation releases a statement saying the royal is unable to travel and is undergoing procedures for an ear, nose and throat infection
July 2 – Charlene and Albert mark their 10th anniversary separately. ‘This year will be the first time that I’m not with my husband on our anniversary in July, which is difficult, and it saddens me,’ Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene said in a statement.
July 3 – Albert appears with glamorous niece Charlotte Casiraghi at the 15th international Monte-Carlo Jumping event, which is part of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco,
July 27 – Prince Albert attends Olympics alone in Tokyo
August 13 – Charlene undergoes a four-hour operation. The reason is not announced
August 25 – Charlene shares photos of Prince Albert, Gabriella and Jacques visiting her in South Africa
August 31 – Speculation mounts in the media about couple’s relationship
September 1 – Charlene is admitted under an alias to the Netcare Alberlito Hospital after suddenly ‘collapsing’
September 2 – She is discharged, with a statement from the Palais Princier reading: ‘Her Highness is closely monitored by Her medical team who said that Her condition was not worrying’
September 23 – Prince Albert attends the 2021 Monte Carlo Gala for Planetary Health
September 29 – Prince Albert is joined on the red carpet by actress Sharon Stone for a first look at the eagerly anticipated James Bond release
September 30 – Charlene releases a stylish video promoting her anti-poaching campaign from her South African bolthole
October 3 – Princess Charlene shares a photograph of herself smiling in front of a bible in her first snap since being discharged from hospital following her health scare
October 5 – Prince Albert attends Sportel Awards Ceremony in Monte Carlo with nephew Louis Ducruet
October 6 – Albert tells RMC radio Charlene is ‘ready to come home’
October 8 – Princess undergoes surgery in South Africa
November 8 – Charlene arrives back in Monaco. Prince Albert said within hours it became clear she was ‘unwell’
November 13 – Prince Albert attends Expo 2020 in Dubai without Princess Charlene
Following his return from the trip, Prince Albert holds an intervention with Charlene’s brothers and a sister-in-law in which Charlene ‘confirmed’ she would seek ‘real medically framed treatment’ outside of Monaco
November 16 – Royal household confirms Princess Charlene will not attend National Day celebrations on November 19
– Prince Albert attends a Monaco Red Cross event without Princess Charlene
November 17 – Prince Albert reveals Princess Charlene has left Monaco and is recovering in a secret location
November 19 – Prince Albert reveals Charlene is in a treatment facility ‘elsewhere in Europe’ after a family intervention
‘She is not in the Principality but we will be able to visit her very soon. I cannot tell you more out of discretion.’
Claims she will stay in Swtizerland were backed up by a source who knows the couple well, who said: ‘The South of France is too close, but Switzerland has superb private medical facilities, and Charlene will be well looked after there.’
The mother-of-two has been silent since her return, aside from sharing a video of the Monaco flag set to the national anthem to mark National Day – one of the biggest events in the royal calendar.
Meanwhile Prince Albert lead members of the Monegasque royal family at the festivities, after confirming earlier this week that his wife will not be in attendance.
Instead, Princess Caroline of Hanover, 63, and Princess Stephanie, 56, joined the monarch for the mass and outdoor ceremony at the palace.
The trio could be seen chaperoning Prince Albert’s children Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques, six, who appeared in a particularly playful mood and at one point could be seen being disciplined by his aunt.
The little boy could be seen blowing raspberries at the crowd, playing with his uniform and pouting before Princess Caroline bent down to speak to him.
Prince Albert last week acknowledged that Jacques and Gabriella have ‘suffered from the absence of their mother’ but that he had compensated by stepping up to take a more active role in their lives.
‘For me, it’s pretty simple – my priority is my family,’ the prince said, when asked about juggling the role of being a head of state and a father,’ he said.
‘This is an extremely important time in [the children’s] life – the way they grow up helps them see the world.
‘And if one of the parents is away for medical reasons, the other parent has to be there. I have heard too many friends and acquaintances telling me that they wish they had been there for their children, at a certain age, taken up by their work or their professional life. I don’t want to have these regrets.’
Asked if the children had been ‘more protected’ during their mother’s absence, Albert added: ‘They should be protected in general, but of course they suffered from the absence of their mother. But they had enough distractions and a family circle that made sure they were not lacking in affection.’
The prince also said rumours around the state of his marriage ‘don’t bother him too much’.
Charlene returned to her husband and twins Jacques and Gabriella in Monaco earlier this month following a 10-month absence while she recovered from surgery following a sinus infection she contracted during a solo charity trip to her native South Africa earlier this year.
In the days after her arrival, Charlene’s sister-in-law Chantell Wittstock, told MailOnline the princess may not be returning to the palace and did not plan to immediately return to public engagements, although she later retracted the remark.
Charlene’s time away followed fresh allegations last December that Albert had fathered a love-child (which would be his third, if proven) with an unnamed Brazilian woman during the time when he and Charlene, a former Olympic swimmer for South Africa, were already in a relationship.
Photographs of their reunion earlier this month were greeted with a hefty dose of scepticism by the French media.
Albert was waiting for her at the Monte Carlo helipad, along with their six-year-old twins, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques. The family were joined by a hand-picked photographer inside the Palace walls for the ‘reunion’ photos.
Among a series of snaps shared to Instagram, the mother-of-two can be seen posing for a family photograph as she places her hand around her husband Prince Albert’s neck, while wrapping an arm around their six-year-old twins Jacques and Gabriella.
But there was already doubt cast over the couple’s living arrangements.
‘Reunion of Albert and Charlene of Monaco: but where exactly do they sleep?’ was the headline question in the respected French celebrity outlet Gala on Tuesday.
And Voici – another popular magazine read widely across Monaco and France – ran with: ‘Charlene of Monaco back: the Princess breaks the silence and forgets to mention her husband’.
This was a reference to Charlene using a social media video to thank everybody who had helped her through months of ill-health, without name-checking Albert at all.
In the streets in the shadow of the 12th century Prince’s Palace, people could not conceal their concern for Charlene last week, having seen the photos of her looking so obviously frail.
‘We are glad to have her back, but she doesn’t look well and it feels we don’t yet have the full picture,’ said one cafe owner on the Rock, in his 50s, who asked not to be named.
He admitted that in years past, he like many Monegasques, had expressed frustration at the way Charlene has been less visible than other royals.
‘There was a while when there was a sense that she was a reluctant princess,’ he said, ‘but this is different – there’s obviously something not quite right either with her or the marriage and for whatever reason we’re not being told what.’
Doubts about the central relationship of Monaco’s royal family are not new of course.
Several residents living in the narrow medieval alleys of Monaco Ville confirmed to MailOnline that before she left for South Africa Charlene was spending most of her time outside the Palace, living in a modest two-bedroom apartment above an old chocolate factory about 300m away, rather than in the 12th Century Palace itself.
‘We often saw her outside the Palace and she would usually be alone or with a bodyguard,’ said one source, ‘but she was never with Albert – it was obvious she chose to spend most of her time in the apartment rather than the palace.’
Another Monte Carlo source who knows the couple well told MailOnline: ‘The way to stop all the friction and put an end to the speculation about their marriage is for Charlene to proudly move back into the Palace and start living like a proper Princess.
‘That’s what the people of Monaco want, because they love their Royals, and don’t want them living separate lives.’
Charlene came in for criticism before she travelled to South Africa for dividing her time between several properties outside the Palais, the official residence of the Sovereign, Albert II.
Instead of enjoying palatial rooms overlooking the Mediterranean, and a domestic staff including butlers and cooks, Charlene chose the Chocolate Factory.
It only had two bedrooms, and had been used in the past by Albert’s sister, Princess Stéphanie.
Stéphanie, 56, led an extremely turbulent personal life herself that included two divorces and high-profile affairs with security guards and an elephant trainer.
Charlene also escaped Royal protocol by staying at Roc Agel, a mountain retreat on the outskirts of Monaco originally restored for Albert’s late mother, the Hollywood star Grace Kelly who became Princess Grace before her tragic death in a car crash on the treacherously steep road approaching Roc Agel.
Charlene was also a frequent visitor to a holiday home owned by friends on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
Paris Match, the celeb bible, has always had particularly close ties with the Grimaldis – the ancient dynasty now headed by Albert and Charlene.
‘Charlene and Albert on the Verge of Breaking Up?’ was the lead headline in an edition of Match in August.
‘There will be no photo for their 10th anniversary wedding anniversary,’ it noted.
Taking time away: Speaking to Monaco-Matin, Prince Albert, 63, confirmed his wife, 43, who has appeared increasingly frail, has left the principality and is staying at a secret location while she ‘recovers from tiredness’, away from him and their six-year-old twins. Pictured, Charlene at a Monaco gala in September 2020 (left) and looking frail in South Africa in Octobe
All the high-end French publications – the kind that Albert and Charlene would normally grant fawning interviews to – concurred.
The upmarket and very conservative Madame Figaro ran with the stark headline: ‘Are Charlene and Albert II of Monaco on the verge of divorce?’
Historian and author Philippe Delorme told the magazine: ‘Lots of people got the impression it was an arranged marriage, it’s true.
‘Albert chose a wife who resembled his mother and Charlene clearly felt very ill at ease in this Grace Kelly role they wanted her to play.
‘As Karl Marx put it: History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.’
The 2011 wedding itself was an ostentatious three-day event featuring a concert by the Eagles. But onlookers were concerned by photos of the bride in tears with her husband appearing distant, but Charlene insisted later she was just emotional.
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.
Charlene infamously shaved half her head in the style of a punk rocker last December.
This was seen as the first public sign of a worsening crisis that could end in a multi-million pound divorce.
Charlene’s exile in South Africa began a month after it emerged last December that Albert was facing yet another paternity suit.
A Brazilian woman who cannot be named for legal reasons said her 15-year-old daughter was the result of an affair with Albert 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.
They 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.