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Princess Charlene of Monaco: 10 facts about Prince Albert's wife on her 37th birthday

January 25, 2015
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Princess Charlene of Monaco celebrates her 37th birthday on 25 January. The elegant wife of Prince Albert is expected to mark the day privately with her husband and their six-week-old twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella. To honour the occasion, HELLO! Online has gathered a list of ten facts you may not have known about the royal.

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Charlene's official title is 'Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco'

1. Charlene was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on 25 January 1978, to sales manager Michael Kenneth Wittstock and Lynette Wittstock, who was a former competitive diver and swimming coach. With her parents and two younger brothers, Gareth and Sean, Charlene relocated to South Africa in 1989. 2. The future princess met Prince Albert at the Mare Nostrum swimming meet in Monaco in 2000 and the pair soon began dating, although they didn't make their first public appearance together until the opening ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. 3. Charlene soon started supporting Albert on duties in Monaco and around the world, attending the weddings of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden in 2010 and Prince William in 2011.

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Albert and Charlene in 2007

4. Since becoming a member of the elegant European set, Charlene revealed that she has grown close with other royal ladies, especially Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. "Maxima has been unbelievably supportive if I need help with anything," Charlene explained to The Times in 2013. "Because she came from Argentina and moved to Holland, we have similar lifestyle choices. She has given me advice that I identified with." 5. Monaco’s leading lady also counts Britain’s Countess of Wessex as a close friend and the pair are often spotted catching up at royal events. Most recently the two attended Princess Madeleine of Sweden’s wedding. The former swimmer has also spoke of her admiration for the Duchess of Cambridge. "She's very sweet and lovely," she explained. "I can understand it must be difficult for everyone being in this situation when you’re not born into it."

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Charlene with the Duchess of Cambridge at a Diamond Jubilee lunch in 2012

6. In May 2014, it was announced Princess Charlene was pregnant and speculation quickly grew that her and Albert would welcome twins. In October the Royal Palace confirmed the joyful news. 7. Celebrations took place across the Principality on 10 December as Charlene gave birth to twins, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques. The proud parents then presented the pair on the balcony of the palace in early January 2015.

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The royal couple presenting their newborn twins

8. Since marrying her prince, Charlene has settled into her royal role taking on a number of presidencies and patronages including the Special Olympics, The Nelson Mandela Foundation, The Princess Charlene Foundation and the Giving Organisation Trust. 9. Charlene's official title is 'Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco' which was previously held by the late Grace Kelly.

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Charlene began swimming aged three

10. A keen swimmer from the age of three, Charlene went on to compete in the 1999 All-African games in Johannesburg winning four gold medals including the 100 m freestyle. Charlene then went onto represent South Africa at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where, with the South African women's 4x100m medley, she finished fifth.

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