How did Princess Charlene’s illness become an international mystery?
September 3, Princess Charlene of Monaco collapsed and was taken to a hospital near Durban, South Africa. Although she was quickly released, the incident was a clear sign that the illness that took her away from her adopted home and family could be more serious than early reports indicated.
This week, an anonymous source detailed at Sixth page how heartbreaking her experience was. “She has not been able to eat solid food for over six months because of all the surgeries she has had since,” the source said. “She could only absorb liquids with a straw, so she lost almost half of her body weight.”
“She is exhausted from six months of surgeries and an inability to eat properly because of it,” the source said. “And she missed her children and her husband desperately as she was stranded in South Africa because she could not return home.”
When Prince Albert talked to the newspaper Monaco-Morning Of his wife’s admission to a treatment center earlier this month, he left details of his illness vague, citing “fatigue” and a need for “rest and supervision” as contributing factors. On November 19, he clarified to People that “she was clearly exhausted, physically and emotionally”, and that her illness had nothing to do with cancer or COVID-19.
Sixth pageThe source also complained about the palace’s handling of the situation. “It is unfair that she is portrayed as having some sort of mental or emotional problem,” a source said. “We don’t know why the palace is playing down the fact that she almost died in South Africa.” When it is reached by Vanity Fair, The Prince’s Palace in Monaco declined to comment further on Charlene’s health.
Despite a recent wave of media coverage, the timeline of Charlene’s illness is still difficult to decipher. She was pictured in Monaco on January 27. She was then seen at Goodwill Zwelithini funeral services, king of the Zulu people, in KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa on March 18. Although she continued to post photos of her family on her Instagram account over the following weeks, it is not known whether she remained in the country or returned to Monaco. On May 18, she posted a photo of an event she attended for her rhino conservation work.
Palace did not comment on her illness and extended stay in South Africa until May, when she skipped a scheduled outing at a Monaco Grand Prix event. “While traveling to the African continent as part of a wildlife conservation mission, Princess Charlene contracted an ENT infection which does not allow her to travel,” they said in their original statement, adding that she sent her “best wishes” to the Automobile Club de Monaco.
For the French press, Charlene’s absence is part of the story of a marriage perpetually on the rocks. Part of it has to do with the timing. In 2020, a Brazilian living in Italy claimed that Albert was the father of her 16-year-old daughter, which led to an ongoing legal battle. Albert has two older children, 29 years old Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and 18 years old Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste, who were born out of wedlock, but in a July report for Paris Match, journalist Stéphane Bern wrote that Charlene’s entourage assumed she was fed up with the prince’s alleged infidelities.
Berne also offered an explanation why Charlene’s absence had fueled so many theories. He cited an occasion in January 2020 where a palace statement on the disease was used to explain his unexpected absence. “The palace has had so many times to invoke the image of a suffering princess that Monegasques today find it hard to believe”, he wrote.
Still, it’s understandable that Charlene, Albert and the palace’s limited disclosures have to do with her standing in the eyes of citizens and Monegasque high society. The tiny principality, which occupies about half the size of Central Park in Manhattan, is dense and heavily monitored by police and CCTV, and when Charlene moved there to continue her relationship, she felt adrift. In 2010 she said Tatler that she struggled when she retired from professional swimming in 2007, and struggled to feel accepted in her new home.