Princess Charlene of Monaco is undergoing surgery in her home country of South Africa, the royal palace has announced, as speculation grows over her absence from the principality and the state of her marriage.
Charlene, 43, who was last seen in Monaco in January, will undergo a ‘four-hour operation under general anaesthesia’, a statement from the office of her husband Prince Albert II announced. No other details were shared.
It comes after it was revealed Charlene had developed a ‘serious sinus infection’.
Prince Albert and their six-year-old twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella will fly out to South Africa to be with Charlene during her recovery.
Princess Charlene of Monaco is undergoing surgery in her home country of South Africa, the royal palace has announced, as speculation grows over her absence from the principality. Pictured, Charlene in a video interview from the South African bush earlier this month
Charlene, 43, who was last seen in Monaco in January, will undergo a ‘four-hour operation under general anaesthesia’, a statement from the office of her husband Prince Albert II announced. No other details were shared. Pictured, Albert and Charlene in September 2020
Last public outing together: Charlene and Albert were last pictured together at an official event together in January (left) at the Sainte Devote Ceremony in Monaco. On April 2, she shared a photograph alongside her husband Prince Albert and their children Jacques and Gabriella to mark Easter, although it is not clear where it was taken
The statement said: ‘Princess Charlene will undergo an operation today, Friday, August 13, for four hours under general anaesthesia. Prince Albert and their children, Crown Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella will join her during her recovery period.’
In recent weeks, lifestyle magazines across Europe have speculated feverishly that the royal couple could be headed for divorce.
Charlene has been in South Africa for months, with media reports suggesting she is looking for a house there.
The princess will not return to Monaco until at least the end of October.
Princess Charlene, who has been well enough to conduct interviews from South Africa and has been seen out and about, this week shared an Instagram post promoting her anti-poaching initiative Chasing Zero, which aims to bring the number of animals killed by poachers down to zero.
She wrote: ‘Rhino Horn is Not Cool! Let’s unite under my #ChasingZero initiative and put an end to the atrocities that put our precious wildlife at risk.’
The former Olympian, 43, has not been seen in Monaco since January and has spent the last few months holed up in her native South Africa while she receives treatment for a ‘serious sinus infection’ she developed while on a solo visit trip to the country (pictured)
The former Olympian, 43, ‘can’t wait’ to return to her six-year-old twins Jacques and Gabriella (pictured with Prince Albert in June), but revealed she won’t be back in the principality ‘until the end of October’ as she recovers from a ‘serious sinus infection’
The accompanying black and white shot shows Charlene pointing a finger towards the camera while holding her other hand balled up in a fist at her face.
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.
Princess Charlene’s life 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.
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 and June – Albert, Jacques and Gabriella attend several events in Monaco without Charlene, while she shares snaps from her trip in South Africa.
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
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.
The mother-of-two has posted Instagram snaps of her FaceTiming her children, showing how they are keeping in touch despite the distance.
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.’
Charlene joined the video interview from bush country in the KwaZulu-Natal region.
She has also shared videos released by the Monaco royal palace to mark her and Albert’s 10th wedding anniversary, which took place in July. The couple spent the milestone thousands of miles apart.
But royal sources have suggested the princess has ‘no plans’ to return soon.
A palace source told Paris Match: ‘The Princess has, for the time being, in reality, no intention of returning.’
The separation is also affecting Charlene’s relationship with the people of Monaco.
Stéphane Bearn, easily the most high-profile and trusted Royal commentator in France, uses an impeccably sourced piece in the latest Paris Match to discuss the torturous separation.
He describes subjects in Monaco becoming increasingly angry about their runaway Princess, as they criticise everything from Charlene’s mood swings to her appearance.
‘In Monaco, since the departure of Charlene, tongues have loosened,’ Mr Bearn writes.
‘In the whirlwind of a hard-nosed court, her fine shine is rubbing off. Her sad looks are regarded as haggard.
‘Disappointed Monegasques talk about her anger, her whimsical moods, which are as changeable as her hair.’
Referring to the couple’s six-year-old twins, who remain in Monaco with their nannies, Mr Bearn writes: ‘The Palace had to invoke a suffering Princess so often that the Monegasques today find it hard to believe.
‘By crying wolf, the mother of Jacques and Gabriella would have discredited and isolated herself.’
Charlene and Albert’s marriage has been plagued with rumours from the start.
The couple met at the Mare Nostrum swimming competition in Monte Carlo in 2000, announced their engagement in 2010.
Former Olympic swimmer Charlene reportedly tried to flee Monaco for her native South Africa on three separate occasions before the royal wedding after discovering Albert had allegedly fathered a love child – his third – while they were together.
Monaco officials were said to have coaxed her back by brokering a deal between the Prince and his reluctant bride, saying she could leave once she had provided him with a legitimate heir.
One source said at the time: ‘Charlene will provide an heir, then if things don’t go well, she will receive a generous divorce settlement once she’s served a decent amount of time.’
Charlene was seen in floods of tears on her wedding day in 2011.
Albert and the twins paid a brief visit to South Africa in early June, the Palace has confirmed, but they otherwise keep in touch via video link
Just one year after their wedding, it was reported that Charlene was ‘depressed’ at her failure to provide her husband with a legitimate heir.
Her pregnancy was announced in May 2014, and in December that year she gave birth to twins Princess Gabriella and heir to the throne Prince Jacques.
In the almost 10 years since, Charlene, who shares six-year-old twins with Albert, has rarely spoken publicly of her experience.
In 2017, the Princess made an emotional return to Africa, where she spoke about how much the continent means to her.
‘I am African and this is my heritage. It will always be. It’s in my heart and in my veins,’ she told Eyewitness News.
Last year she admitted life was ‘very painful’, saying: ‘I have the privilege of having this life, but I miss my family and my friends in South Africa and I’m often sad because I cannot always be there for them.’
It’s been a tumultuous start to the year for the royal, after news emerged that her husband is facing a paternity suit over a love child born in the early years of their relationship.
The 63-year-old prince, who already supports two illegitimate children, is alleged to have had a relationship with a Brazilian woman which resulted in a daughter in 2005.
The claim, which his lawyers dismissed as a ‘hoax’, is particularly painful as he was dating Charlene at the time, having met the former Olympic swimmer in 2000.
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.