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Princess Charlene and Prince Albert’s chance first encounter before royal’s illness

Princess Charlene of Monaco shares 'gratitude' for fundraisers

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Princess Charlene of Monaco spent much of 2021 in her native South Africa due to suffering from a mystery illness. The coronavirus pandemic, paired with the illness, meant she was unable to return home to Monaco. She went months without seeing her two children, six-year-old twins Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques, as well as her husband, Prince Albert II.

As a result, Charlene also missed her and Albert’s tenth wedding anniversary.

She managed to get back to Monaco in early November but reports suggest she continues to battle with her health.

Last week, the Palais Princier released a statement on Tuesday confirming that she would not be attending Monaco’s National Day with Prince Albert.

This was in order to allow her “time to recover” from her recent “poor health”, while on Wednesday Prince Albert revealed that she was resting at a confidential location.

Now, Albert has confirmed that she is receiving treatment in a facility “outside of Monaco”.

The pair have enjoyed a good relationship, often appearing together at Monaco’s numerous glamorous balls and charity fundraisers.

Charlene does not come from royal blood: she was an Olympic swimmer before meeting Albert.

Their first encounter, in fact, came at an international swimming competition in Monaco in 2000.

A keen sportsman himself, Albert regularly attends the games his country competes in, and those held in the principality.

It was after the swimming competition that Albert asked to meet Charlene.

This was then recounted during the 2012 documentary, ‘Privacy And Power: A year In The Life Of Prince Albert Of Monaco’, where Albert talked in detail about how he felt on their first meeting.

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He explained: “Charlene and I met at the banquet that followed the international swimming competition.

“I then invited her to have a drink after dinner ‒ it was a great moment.”

The pair hit it off, but the following morning, Charlene headed back to South Africa.

It was five years before either Albert or Charlene spoke again, when Charlene called to offer him her condolences after the death of his father, Prince Rainier III in 2005.

The following year, a photo of the couple together at the Turin Winter Olympics made front pages.

Five years later, Albert proposed to Charlene and the pair married in front of huge crowds and a TV audience of 100 million.

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At 33 years old, Charlene became not just the Princess of Monaco, but also a slew of further royal titles.

She became duchess four times over, a marchioness four times over, a countess seven, and a baroness nine times -– by marrying Albert, Charlene essentially married Monaco.

Meanwhile, following his trip to Dubai earlier this month, Albert told People magazine that a family-style intervention had taken place with Charlene and her health.

He said: “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.

“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.”

He added: “Obviously there were consequences of her different surgeries and the procedures she underwent in the last few months.

“That certainly was a factor, but at this point I prefer not to comment further. I can say she was suffering incredible fatigue.

“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.”

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