Prince Albert of Monaco attended the Planetary Health gala in Monte Carlo with Princess Caroline of Hanover tonight – while his wife Princess Charlene remained in South Africa as rumours of rift continue to swirl.
The Olympian, 43, has spent the past several months in South Africa being treated for an ear and throat infection she contracted in May, following a sinus lift and bone graft procedure she’d undergone prior to her arrival in preparation for dental implants.
As a result, the mother-of-two missed her 10 year wedding anniversary and is not expected to return to the principality until October, after undergoing a ‘four-hour operation under general anaesthesia’ in August – although it was not made clear whether this was linked to the sinus infection.
Despite Charlene being admitted to hospital earlier this month after a ‘sudden collapse’ rumours are rife that a rift with Prince Albert, rather than health issues, is what’s keeping her away from Monaco.
The father-of-two walked the red carpet with Sharon Stone and Princess Caroline of Hanover.
Prince Albert of Monaco attended the Planetary Health gala in Monte Carlo with Princess Caroline of Hanover tonight (pictured with Caroline and director Sharon Stone on the white carpet)
Albert appeared in good spirits as he joined a host of celebrities, including Orlando Bloom (pictured) at the event tonight
Hosted by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the annual event gathers leading philanthropists, talents and scientists to join forces and launch the charity’s initiatives to bridge the widening gap between health and the environment.
The 2021 Monte-Carlo Gala for Planetary Health aims to highlight the idea that our future is dependent on healthy ecosystems.
Hosted by the Prince’s foundation, it has gathered talents, philanthropists, decision makers and scientists to discuss the challenges the planet’s environment faces.
The night is usually auction filled with many collectables, memorabilia and fine art from some of the most high-profile artists across the globe going on sale.
Despite Charlene being admitted to hospital earlier this month after a ‘sudden collapse’ rumours are rife that a rift with Prince Albert, rather than health issues, is what’s keeping her away from Monaco
Proceeds will be used to help the Foundation’s initiatives, which includes the development of marine protected areas, protection of threatened marine species, the mitigation of the impact of climate change and acidification on the ocean, as well as the fight against plastic pollution.
The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation was set up in 2006 with the aim to protect the environment and promote sustainable development at a local and global scale.
It has 10 international branches across the globe, including in France, America, the UK, Switzerland, Canada, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Spain and China.
It comes as a friend said Charlene, who hasn’t been seen in Monaco since January, sees herself as a ‘protector of the heirs’ and not a royal.
Speaking to People Magazine, a source close to the former Olympic swimmer said: ‘She sees herself as the protector of the heirs, as opposed to the princess of Monaco’.
The father-of-two linked arms with Sharon as they posed together on the white carpet at the prestigious event
Pictured: Pom Klementieff, Princess of Hanover Caroline, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Sharon Stone, Orlando Bloom, Melanie Laurent, Gaspard Ulliel and guests pose on the red carpet ahead of the 2021 Monte-Carlo Gala
The friend added Charlene ‘only felt fully part of the family’ after welcoming the twins which gave her ‘a kind of security’.
‘She’s incredibly involved and protective … in a very loving and providing kind of way, shunning other activities to be with them and making sure that they’re kind of living a semi-normal life,’ they added.
Meanwhile, Prince Albert has been preparing for his wife’s return home after spending most of 2021 apart.
In a previous interview with People, he said Charlene was ready to come home and has been joking that she wants to clandestinely hop on a ship to make her way to Monaco.
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
Earlier this month, he told the magazine: ‘She didn’t leave Monaco in a huff! She didn’t leave because she was mad at me or at anybody else… She didn’t go into exile. It was absolutely just a medical problem which had to be treated.’
He added that his wife had planned to travel to South Africa to reassess her foundation’s work and to spend time with her brother and friends.
Albert admitted he ‘probably should have addressed’ the rumours sooner, but was ‘concentrating on taking care of the kids’ and believed they would just ‘go away’.
‘Of course it affects her, of course it affects me,’ he told the magazine. ‘Misreading events is always detrimental… We’re an easy target, easily hit, because we’re in the public eye a lot.’
The Princess has missed out on countless public engagements and family events due to her extended stay in South Africa, including her children’s return to school this week.
Last week, after a trip to Ireland with their father, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella joined the 5715 pupils starting their school year at FANB.
Sporting the school’s red polo shirts, the twins wore face coverings as they entered the building ahead of their 10am start.
And earlier this month, it was announced that the royal had been admitted to hospital in in the port city of Durban in the southeastern KwaZulu-Natal province after collapsing at home.
‘Her Serene Highness (HSH) Princess Charlene of Monaco was rushed to hospital by ambulance late Wednesday night after collapsing due to complications from the severe ear, nose, and throat infection she contracted in May,’ her foundation said in a statement.
‘The Princess’ medical team is currently evaluating her but have confirmed that the Princess is stable,’ it said.
Chantell Wittstock, director of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation and Charlene’s sister-in-law, later said that ‘she has been released. She was released this morning’. ‘Doctors are still establishing exactly what happened,’ she said.
Her latest health scare was ‘part of the recovery,’ Wittstock said. ‘She has been in a lot of pain.’
Charlene and Albert reunited last month for the first time in months after the monarch and their children flew to South Africa, but photographs of the pair embracing were branded ‘awkward’ by a body language expert.
In recent weeks, lifestyle magazines across Europe have speculated feverishly that the royal couple could be headed for divorce. French magazine Madame Figaro stated the images ‘failed to convince the Monegasques’ amid reports Charlene is looking for a house in Johannesburg.
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?’
Historian Philippe Delorme said that ‘lots of people got the impression it was an arranged marriage’ between Charlene and Albert, adding: ‘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’
The mounting speculation about the couple’s marriage comes after Charlene shared professional photographs of her reunion with Prince Albert online, saying she was ‘thrilled’ to have her family back.
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 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’.
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
Charlene has been in South Africa since at least March, with media reports suggesting she is looking for a house there.
The prince, who already supports two illegitimate children, is alleged to have been in a relationship with a Brazilian woman which resulted in a daughter in 2005.
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.
The claim, which his lawyers dismissed as a ‘hoax’, is particularly painful as he was dating Charlene at the time, having met in 2000.
However, Charlene has publicly supported her husband, and the palace have reiterated she is only in South Africa because she’s unable to fly.
On August 13, the Monaco palace released a statement saying Charlene was to undergo surgery.
It read: ‘Princess Charlene will undergo an operation today, Friday, August 13, for four hours under general anaesthesia.’
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, 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, 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 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.
Friends of Princess Charlene of Monaco, 43, pictured, have said the royal, who has been away from her family for several months, is a ‘tough cookie’
‘Disappointed Monegasques talk about her anger, her whimsical moods, which are as changeable as her hair.’
He added: ‘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.’
During her trip, Charlene also debuted a dramatic new shaved hairstyle.
She showcased the ‘French crop’ hairdo – featuring a longer strip on top of the head and dramatically shaved back and sides – in snaps shared on her charity’s Instagram page in late May.
The royal first stepped out with a dramatic half-shaved head in December 2020 but has since gone even shorter and bolder with the cut.
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, 43, who was last seen in Monaco in January, shared professional photographs of a reunion with her family on Instagram last month (pictured)
Mummy’s boy: Princess Charlene poses with her son Jacques, who is heir to the Monaco throne. She said she was delighted to be back with her family. The family were last together at the start of June, when Albert and the children flew out to South Africa to be with Charlene
Charlene was seen in floods of tears on her wedding day in 2011.
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 10 years since, Charlene 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.
Play time! Twins Jacques and Gabriella climb a tree in one of the photos shared on Instagram
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 the father of two illegitimate children born in the 1990s and early 2000s.
In January, Charlene spoke publicly for the first time since the allegations, telling Point de Vue: ‘When my husband has problems, he tells me about it. I often tell him, “No matter what, no matter what, I’m a thousand percent behind you. I’ll stand by you whatever you do, in good times or in bad.”
The mother-of-two went on to say she also often tells her husband she will ‘protect him’ and will ‘always be by his side.’
Charlene, who was raised in South Africa and represented the country at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, travelled to Thanda Safari in KwaZulu-Natal in January to learn more about being done by the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation South Africa to help save rhinos from poachers.
The princess took part in conservation operations including rhino monitoring and tracking, deployment with the Anti-Poaching Unit, educational wildlife photography sessions, and a White Rhino dart and dehorning exercise.