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Princess Charlene's debilitating health battle that hid her from public life – full story

The royal spent six months away from her family, but how is she now?

princess charlene of monaco health battle revealed
Bridie Wilkins
Bridie WilkinsSenior Health & Fitness Writer
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Princess Charlene of Monaco spent much of 2021 in South Africa due to an illness that meant she was unable to return home to Monaco. She went without seeing her two children, six-year-old twins Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques, as well as her husband Prince Albert II, including on their tenth wedding anniversary.

MORE: Princess Charlene contracts COVID-19 months after recovering from ENT infection

Charlene returned to Monaco in early November last year, but seemingly continued to struggle with her health for many months. Amid cancelled appearances last year, The Palais Princier formally announced the royal was taking "time to recover" from her recent "poor health", while Prince Albert confirmed that she was receiving treatment in a facility "outside of Monaco".

Thankfully, the 44-year-old royal has made a glowing comeback from her former health struggles, dazzling at many glamorous occasions since her return to public life. How is her health now?

WATCH: Princess Charlene and Prince Albert share touching video in honour of wedding anniversary

Prince Albert explained that a family-style intervention took place with Charlene, following his trip to Dubai lastyear. He told PEOPLE magazine: "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."

READ: Princess Charlene reveals adorable bond with daughter Princess Gabriella in rare interview

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."

princess charlene reunited with children

The royal reunited with her children earlier this year

He also dismissed further speculation about Charlene's health, telling the magazine: "Because I know there are rumours out there, let me say: This is not COVID. And it's not cancer-related. It's not a personal relationship issue. And if you want to discuss another speculation, it isn't related to plastic surgery or facial work at all." 

Here's everything else that's been said about Princess Charlene's illness so far.

READ: Prince Albert travels to Dubai without Princess Charlene

What illness is Princess Charlene suffering from?

While Prince Albert has confirmed that she is now dealing with "exhaustion, both emotional and physical", Princess Charlene collapsed on 1 September due to complications following one of several surgeries for a severe and ongoing ear, nose and throat (ENT) infection. She was rushed to Netcare Alberlito Hospital, and the Palace released the following statement to People: "On the night of September 1, Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco was taken to hospital after becoming ill due to complications from a serious ENT infection.

"Her Highness is being closely followed by her medical team, who say her condition is reassuring." Charlene was reportedly scheduled to undergo another surgery to treat the illness that day, but it was pushed back.

princess charlene and kids

Charlene pictured with her family earlier this year

She reportedly went in for surgery in mid May, before a second operation in June, and a "final" surgery in October. Prince Albert confirmed in late October that she would be heading home to Monaco and their two children soon.

"She is much better," he told French publication Point de Vue. "This last operation which concerned the nasal septum went very well. We will be able to consider her return very soon. And I can tell you that she will be in Monaco long before the national holiday."

RELATED: Princess Charlene and Prince Albert's love story: how they met, and more

According to Harley Street's ENT Clinic, "Ear, nose and throat infections are very common. The symptoms are usually relatively mild, but can sometimes cause problems that need to be treated by an ENT specialist." Types of infection run the gamut from rhinitis and sinusitis to tonsillitis and laryngitis. Symptoms can include, "earache, hearing loss, balance problems, headaches, difficulty swallowing, sore throat and swollen glands in your neck."

The website adds that, "all three types of infections can also cause more general symptoms of infection, such as a fever, and it's common for infections to spread between these areas." As for treatment, "Ibuprofen and paracetamol can reduce inflammation that is causing symptoms and may help to bring down your fever, if you have one," while antibiotics may be prescribed for severe symptoms that "last longer than expected".

charlene albert monaco january 2021

Charlene's last public engagement in Monaco in January

Prince Albert confirmed that she had had an operation on her "nasal septum", which could be necessary if you have a deviated septum causing severe "sinus infections", according to ENT Health. The website explains: "The most common symptom from a badly deviated or crooked septum is difficulty breathing through the nose, which is usually worse on one side. In some cases, a crooked septum can interfere with sinus drainage and cause repeated sinus infections."

When did Princess Charlene become ill?

It's believed that she developed her ear, nose and throat infection before she arrived in South Africa, which she visited for a funeral and to participate in wildlife protection efforts.

What has Princess Charlene said about her illness?

Though Charlene hasn't shared many details of her illness and surgeries publicly, she did open up about missing her family. "It's been a trying time for me. I miss my husband and children dearly," she told South African News Channel24.

"Albert is my rock and strength and without his love and support I would not have been able to get through this painful time."

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