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Princess Charlene and Prince Albert's family and why they spent time apart

The Monaco royals have been married since 2011

Prince Albert II of Monaco and Princess Charlene of Monaco attend a Gala at the Grimaldi Forum during the Monaco National Day 2023
Diane Shipley
Senior Online Writer
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Princess Charlene of Monaco joined her husband Prince Albert for his annual New Year's Eve address on Sunday, the sixth time she has participated in the event. Unlike the previous year, the couple were not joined by their children but they will no doubt have enjoyed time together as a family over the festive season, making up for lost time having spent a large chunk of time apart over the last few years

Read on to find out more about the royal couple and their family – and why Charlene spent several months on a different continent...

WATCH: Princess Charlene and Prince Albert share touching video together

Who are the Monaco royals? 

Former Olympic swimmer Princess Charlene, née Charlene Wittstock, met Prince Albert of Monaco in 2007 and they tied the knot in 2011 over two days, which included a lavish religious ceremony as well as a civil ceremony. On 10 December 2014, the couple welcomed their twin children, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques. Because of primogeniture laws in the principality, although Gabriella is two minutes older than Jacques, he is the presumptive heir to his father's title, just as Albert was the second child of his father, Prince Rainier III and Hollywood actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly. 

The twins also share two half-siblings from Prince Albert's previous relationships, neither of whom are in the line of succession because their parents were not married at the time of their birth. Actress and singer Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, 32, is the daughter of Prince Albert and Tamara Rotolo while the Prince shares son Alexandre Grimaldi, 20, with former Air France flight attendant Nicole Coste. 

Prince Albert II of Monaco and Princess Charlene of Monaco  attend the Christmas Tree at Monaco Palace on December 20, 2023 © Stephane Cardinale - Corbis
The couple at Monaco Palace last month

Why did Princess Charlene spend time apart from her husband and children? 

In September 2020, Princess Charlene spent time alone in her native South Africa without her husband and young children. In a shocking turn of events, the mum-of-two collapsed due to complications following one of several surgeries for a severe and ongoing ear, nose and throat (ENT) infection and had to be rushed to hospital. The Palace released a statement to People magazine which read: "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. 

Princess Charlene and Prince Albert pose with their two children, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella© Palais Princier de Monaco
With their two children, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella

"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 and she ended up being away from home for more than year, during which time she eventually went in for surgery in mid-May 2021, before a second operation in June, and a "final" surgery in October. The nature of her illness meant that she couldn't fly until she was completely healed but happily, Prince Albert confirmed in late October 2021 that she would be heading home to Monaco. 

Princess Charlene and Prince Albert smiling in a close-up photo © Christopher Furlong
The couple married in 2011

Sadly, she then sadly suffered a bout of exhaustion, from which she recovered away from home. During this time, Albert publicly denied speculation that the couple's relationship was in trouble, as well as clearing up rumours that Charlene had cancer, a Covid-related health issue or was undergoing plastic surgery. 

Princess Charlene of Monaco attends the Monaco National Day 2023© Getty
The princess is now feeling better

The following year, the princess appeared much improved, with her husband telling People: "I'm really proud of my wife. Charlene is doing really well. As you can see for yourself, she's been active in any number of different events. Charlene's engaging more in public life and looking after things that she's passionate about. She's really enjoying doing things together and with the kids… We're truly thrilled about how things are." Charlene then went on to give an interview with local publication Monaco-Matin in which she confirmed her upward progress, saying: "I walk regularly, but I would like to get back into swimming training, to regain a little more energy and feel stronger."

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