The mother of Prince Albert of Monaco’s love child has praised the ‘sensitive’ royal’s parenting and involvement in their teenage son’s life in a rare interview, as rumours continue to swirl around the state of his marriage to Princess Charlene.
Nicole Coste, 49, an Air France air hostess turned fashion designer, gave birth to Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste in August 2003, two years before Albert, then heir to the Monegasque throne, started dating Princess Charlene.
Nicole and Albert had dated for five years and the Togo-born beauty had made public appearances with her royal beau and met his father, Rainier III.
But Alexandre’s existence was only made public in May 2005 when Nicole gave an explosive tell-all interview to French magazine Paris Match, claiming her then two-year-old son was Albert’s.
Two months later, shortly before he was enthroned, Albert confirmed he had fathered Alexandre. The following year he also admitted he had a daughter Jazmin Grimaldi, now 29, born to American Tamara Rotolo in 1992. He shares two legitimate children, twins Jacques and Gabriella, six, with his wife Charlene.
In the almost two decades since the 2005 interview, Nicole has raised Alexandre and his older half-brothers in Geneva, London and New York, and chosen to stay largely out of the spotlight.
However she is now firmly back in the public eye after she and Alexandre attended Monaco’s glittering Rose Ball alongside Albert and other members of the royal family, and marked the teenager’s 18th birthday with a lavish bash thrown by his royal father.
Nicole Coste, 49, an Air France air hostess turned fashion designer, gave birth to Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste in August 2003, two years before Albert, then heir to the Monegasque throne, started dating Princess Charlene. Pictured, the couple at an event in April 2002
Alexandre’s existence was only made public in May 2005 when Nicole gave an explosive tell-all interview to French magazine Paris Match, claiming her then two-year-old son was Albert’s. Pictured, the 18-year-old with his half-sister, Jazmin Grimaldi, who was born in 1992
It comes as Princess Charlene, who was last seen in Monaco in January, remains in South Africa while she recovers from a serious sinus infection. She is currently in hospital after being admitted on Wednesday night after collapsing at home. Albert flew out to South Africa last month to see his wife (pictured), marking the first time they had been together since June
It comes as Princess Charlene, who was last seen in Monaco in January, remains in South Africa while she recovers from a serious sinus infection. She is currently in a stable condition after being admitted to hospital on Wednesday night after collapsing at home.
Speaking in the most recent issue of Paris Match, Nicole explained Albert has been a constant presence in his son’s life, despite reports to the contrary, and had been involved in everything from his education to his birthday parties.
‘Albert made a commitment from the start to be present, and to gradually bring his son into his family,’ she said, in an interview translated from French.
‘Very quickly, I was reassured when Princess Stephanie became Alexander’s godmother. Albert has honored his promise: things are building well and running their course, which I am delighted with.’
She continued: ‘Contrary to what some have written, Albert has always assumed his role as a father and no financial agreement has ever been made between us. Our relationship is built on trust.’
She added: ‘Alexandre inherited my politeness, my great kindness. Albert too is tender, sensitive, warm. Alexandre looks like us a lot. They get along very well and are very close friends. They like to play sports together and sometimes talk about politics.’
Alexandre, who has recently been signed as a model, starts university this autumn.
Nicole did not rule out the possibility of her son playing a role in the ‘future of Monaco’, saying it was up to his father to decide.
Prince Albert of Monaco is facing growing calls to reveal whether his marriage to Princess Charlene is on the rocks after he attended a ball alongside Nicole Coste and their love child during his wife’s extended stay in South Africa (pictured, left Prince Albert at the Red Cross Ball in July 2021, and right, Nicole Coste at the event)
Images have now emerged online showing Albert and Nicole’s love child Alexandre (right) attending the ball alongside Prince Albert
In photographs shared online, Nicole can be seen wearing an elegant purple gown to the event with dangling diamond earrings, while the son she shares with Prince Albert (right) opted for a blue suit
The mother-of-three hinted at a tension with Charlene, claiming the royal had made her son feel unwelcome during the early days of her relationship with Albert.
‘As for Charlene, this is a subject that I cannot avoid because we are often put in parallel. I don’t like being compared. I never advertised myself as an enemy. I am a gentle woman,’ she said.
Princess Charlene’s trials and tribulations in the Monaco royal family
1987 – Bea Fiedler, a German topless model, claims her son Daniel was the prince’s son.
1992 – An American national files a paternity lawsuit against the Prince, claiming that he was the father of her daughter, Jazmin Grace.
2000 – Princess Charlene meets Prince Albert at the Mare Nostrum swimming competition in Monte Carlo
2005 – In May, a former flight attendant claims that her youngest son, whom she named Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste, was Prince Albert’s child. She states that his parentage had been proven by DNA tests requested by the Monegasque government.
On 6 July, a few days before he was enthroned on 12 July, the Prince officially confirms via his lawyer Lacoste that Alexandre was his biological son.
2006 – After a DNA test confirmed the child’s parentage, Albert admitted, via statement from his lawyer, that he is Jazmin Grace’s father.
2010 – Princess Charlene and Prince Albert announce their engagement
2011 – Princess Charlene was said to have bolted two days before the royal wedding after hearing Prince Albert had a third love child during their relationship. It was alleged that Charlene tried to flee home to South Africa three times before her ‘arranged marriage’, at one point taking refuge inside her country’s embassy in Paris.
Monaco officials were said to have coaxed her back by brokering a deal between the Prince and his reluctant bride that she provide him with a legitimate heir. After that she would be free to leave of her own free will.
During the wedding, Charlene was in floods of tears, while her husband looked on impassively. Later in the year, Princess Charlene confessed she felt ‘very lonely’ in Monaco
2012 – Princess Charlene was reported to be ‘depressed’ at her failure to provide her husband with a legitimate heir.
2014 – Pregnancy was announced in May. In December Charlene gave birth to twins Princess Gabriella and heir to the throne Prince Jacques.
2017 – Princess Charlene visits Africa, tells media: ‘I am African and this is my heritage. It will always be. It’s in my heart and in my veins.’
2019 – In a rare interview, Princess Charlene confessed it is ‘sometimes hard to smile’ and said the year had been ‘very painful’In another interview, she said she found motherhood ‘exhausting’
2020 – Charlene debuts a shocking half-shaved hairstyle. It is announced Prince Albert of Monaco will appear in court in the new year to fight explosive claims he fathered a third love child with a secret girlfriend before marrying his now wife Princess Charlene.
2021 – January 27 – Charlene is pictured with Albert for the Sainte Devote Ceremony in Monaco. It is the last time she has been seen in Monaco this year.
‘Given our respective ties to the prince, we should have made sure to support each other cordially. In our situation, diplomacy had to prevail. But during the engagement period, I experienced things that alerted and shocked me.
‘For example, she changed my son’s room, taking advantage of his father’s absence to move him to the employee wing. As a mother, I cannot find words to describe these actions.’
However she insisted Alexandre has a good relationship with his younger half-brother Jacques, who is heir to the throne, and half-sister Gabriella, saying he ‘happily plays with them when he sees them’.
Nicole met Albert in the late 1990s, shortly before he first crossed paths with Charlene at the 2000 Mare Nostrum swimming competition in Monte Carlo.
Nicole, whose father was a merchant in Togo, West Africa, admitted she was excited and flattered by the attention.
Indeed, Nicole had already demonstrated her mettle when she left Africa at just 15. One of five children, she was determined to make a better life for herself and so travelled to Paris to study.
Their liaison became the best-kept secret among Monaco society.
Although they both attended red carpet events and mixed with socialites and celebrities, the majority of Albert’s subjects knew nothing of the relationship.
However their initial passion waned and the relationship petered out. But in its final days, Nicole discovered she was pregnant.
Nicole gave birth to Alexandre in August 2003 and in December that year Alexandre was officially recognised by Albert as his son, Nicole told Paris Match.
She kept a low profile for almost two years before going to the press with her story in May 2005, a month after the death of Albert’s father, Rainier III.
Speaking today, Nicole says she spoke out because there had been an issue with obtaining the documentation proving Albert had recognised Alexandre as his son, which she wanted to rectify.
On 6 July 2005, less than a week before he was enthroned on 12 July, the Prince officially confirmed via his lawyer that Alexandre was his. The following year he confirmed he was also father to a daughter, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, who was born out of wedlock in 1992.
Albert is currently facing a paternity suit over a reported third love child born in the early years of his relationship with Princess Charlene.
The 34-year-old claimant – who cannot be named for legal reasons – says she had a passionate affair with Albert, leading to the birth of their daughter – whose name is also classified – on July 4, 2005.
Albert received a handwritten letter from the child, who is now 15, in September last year reading: ‘I don’t understand why I grew up without a father, and now that I have found you, you don’t want to see me.’
Legal papers were also filed, as lawyers for the claimant called on Albert to undergo a DNA test – just as he did before finally being identified as Jazmin and Alexandre’s father.
Nicole has dismissed the paternity claims, saying Albert has just the four children and that the woman is ‘making false arguments’ designed to ’cause harm’.
News of the paternity suit broke shortly before Princess Charlene left Monaco for her native South Africa.
The royal has remained in the country while receiving treatment for a serious sinus infection, including undergoing a four-hour mystery operation.
She is currently in a stable condition after being admitted to KwaZulu-Natal North Coast Hospital, north of Durban, on Wednesday night after she collapsed at the lodge where she is staying.
The couple recently reunited for the first time in months after Albert and their children flew to South Africa, but photographs of the pair embracing were branded ‘awkward’ by body language expert Judi James
She was admitted under an alias after the ‘medical emergency’ caused by complications from an infection she contracted in May.
A foundation set up in her name said in a statement on Friday: ‘Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco was rushed to hospital by ambulance late on Wednesday night after collapsing due to complications from the severe ear, nose and throat infection she contracted in May.
‘Her medical team is currently evaluating her but have confirmed the princess is stable.’
The hospital refused to confirm what procedures or checks were carried out citing confidentiality legislation, but a source said she had been admitted as a VIP patient and treated on a separate floor to other patients.
The family were reunited for the first time in almost three months last week when Albert flew out to South Africa with Jacques and Gabriella.
French magazine Madame Figaro stating the images ‘failed to convince the Monegasques’ amid reports Charlene is looking for a house in Johannesburg.
Last Monaco outing together: Charlene and Albert were last pictured together at an official event together in January at the Sainte Devote Ceremony in Monaco. Albert has made a few visits to South Africa since
Last seen together: Albert and the twins paid a brief visit to South Africa in early June (pictured), the Palace has confirmed, but they otherwise keep in touch via video link. They are pictured with Charlene’s brother brother Sean Wittstock, 37, and his son Raigen, seven, and daughter Aiva, five
According to The Telegraph, the magazine asked: ‘How long can she remain away from her children, her duties?’ How long will the fight against rhinoceros poaching remain the Princess of Monaco’s top priority?
‘How long will Albert II of Monaco go on bearing this affront, which is becoming ridiculous?’
How Charlene and Albert made solo outings in South Africa and Monaco during seven 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
The separation was brought into question once again this week when photos emerged showing Albert and Nicole at the Rose Ball together in July, when Charlene was in South Africa receiving treatment.
Nicole explained she had been invited to attend and asked her son to accompany her. She said she had also been invited last year but the event was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Asked if she knew anything about Charlene’s absence, Nicole said: ‘No, and that’s none of my business. It’s his private life.’
The mounting speculation about the couple’s marriage comes days after Charlene shared professional photographs of her reunion with Prince Albert online, saying she was ‘thrilled’ to have her family back.
Last week, she shared a series of photos cuddled up with her kids in South Africa with the caption: ‘I am so thrilled to have my family back with me (Gabriella decided to give herself a haircut!!!) Sorry my Bella I tried my best to fix it,’ referring to her daughter’s choppy fringe.
However a body language expert told FEMAIL Princess Charlene showed ‘no emotional bond’ towards her husband Prince Albert in the images.
Judi James said that rather than being the loved-up reunion photo one would expect of a couple surrounded by split rumours, the royals’ poses suggested ‘no signs of connection between awkward-looking Albert and Charlene’.
There are conflicting reports over when Charlene is expected to return to Monaco.
She has previously said she will not leave South Africa before the end of October but this week Albert has reportedly said she is ‘ready’ to return home.
Princess Charlene, who has been well enough to conduct interviews from South Africa and has been seen out and about, has used the time to promote her anti-poaching initiative, Chasing Zero
Charlene’s last formal engagement was on January 27 when she joined Albert for the Sainte Devote Ceremony in Monte Carlo. She has not been seen at home since.
Instead she has been keeping followers updated through social media posts and media interviews, in which she has spoken candidly about missing her children and described her husband as ‘her rock’.
Speaking to South Africa Radio 702’s host Mandy Wiener last week, the royal said: ‘[It’s] very frustrating, terribly frustrating. I can’t wait to get back to them, I can’t wait to see my children.’
Charlene revealed: ‘It’s the longest period I’ve actually been away from Europe, let alone my children, but I’m FaceTiming them most days and they’ve been here and will be returning to see me again after my procedure.
‘It’s an amazing opportunity [to be here] but I’m very sad I can’t be with my children this summer in Europe.’
She added that she was initially only supposed to be in her native South Africa for ten to 12 days for a conservation trip with her Princess Charlene of Monaco foundation.
However, the royal had a problem ‘equalising her ears’ and was told by a doctor that she was suffering from a serious sinus infection.
‘It’s taken time to address the problem that I’m having,’ explained Charlene. ‘I cannot go into full detail, but I cannot force healing so I will be grounded in South Africa until the end of October.
‘The reason being I cannot fly above 3,000 metres otherwise I’ll have a problem with my ears.
‘I feel well, I feel good, it’s just obviously a waiting game for me, but I’ve had a great opportunity to understand a little bit more about South Africa, the environment, the needs and it’s been wonderful to be back in South Africa, and I think at this time it’s crucial that people are aware of certain things via my foundation.’