Inside Zimbabwean-Born Princess Charlene’s Relationship With Her Own Family

To be a royal bride, you have to be an aristocrat. Or, at least that’s what it might seem. Over the years, many of the women who have married into European royal families have been quite blue-blooded. Princess Diana, of course, was the daughter of Charles Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer. Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, was a direct descendent of King Charles II. Even Queen Camilla is considered an aristocrat, with an ancestor who was also a mistress of a past king. Because of these women’s unique histories, it may appear that there isn’t room in royal ranks for brides from more typical backgrounds.


Enter, Princess Charlene. As the wife of the Monégasque ruler, Prince Albert, she is the highest ranked woman in Monaco. And, even though she holds fancy titles, like Her Serene Highness, Charlene does not hail from a blue-blooded background. On the contrary, the athletic blond actually comes from a lower middle class family with roots in both Zimbabwe and South Africa. What’s more Charlene’s ancestors endured a level of struggle that is unheard of from most royal brides. In fact, one of her great-grandparents was actually abandoned at a foster home due to financial troubles.


In that sense, it is clear that Charlene comes from a very different type of family than one would normally find in royal circles. And, from what we can tell, its members continue to get along swimmingly — providing each other with support during hard times.


Princess Charlene was born Charlene Wittstock on January 25, 1978, in Zimbabwe (then known as South Rhodesia). Within a few years, her parents, Michael and Lynette Wittstock, grew their brood, giving Charlene two younger brothers: Gareth Wittstock and Sean Wittstock. For a time, all seemed well in the family of five. However, as the political situation in Rhodesia grew less and less clear, life for the Wittstocks became more uncertain.


At one point, Michael went off to fight in the Zimbabwean War of Liberation, leaving his family at home. Reflecting on this turbulent time in an interview with Paris Match, Michael recalled, “It was pretty rough. At the time, the country was at war. So, I wasn’t always there. I was going to the front for six weeks.” Despite these frequent absences, the protective father said that he tried to go home to his family as often as he could. “On weekends, we went to the Gwai River side. There were wild animals, elephants, giraffes.”


At the end of the day, though, the Bush War was still a tumultuous period. According to the book “Charlene: In Search of a Princess” by South African journalist Arlene Pinsloo, Charlene has actually spoken about this experience in the Afrikaans language publication Rapport. The princess reportedly shared, “I remember [my childhood days] filled with fear.”

Early on, Princess Charlene developed a strong bond with her brothers, Gareth Wittstock and Sean Wittstock. The three siblings are all close in age: Gareth was born in 1982, and Sean arrived the next year.

Growing up, Michael and Lynette Winstock’s daughter and two sons played together for hours on end. And, it is believed that these moments left a lasting impression on Charlene. According to Arlene Pinsloo’s book “Charlene: In Search of a Princess,” some of the princess’ earliest memories “are of climbing trees in their garden with her two younger brothers.” Indeed, Charlene was never afraid to get her hands dirty as a child, preferring to engage in fun outdoor activities, rather than remain more sedentary at home. Chatting with Paris Match before her royal wedding, Michael recalled, “I think she had a very happy childhood. She was a real tomboy! She ran everywhere and always came back covered in dust or dirt.”


The three siblings also experienced a sense of communal loss, as violence tore through Zimbabwe in the 1980s. Per Pinsloo’s report, Charlene once told the Afrikaans language publication Rapport, “It was a bit difficult to go to school and suddenly two of our friends are gone because they had been murdered on their farm.” These sorts of traumas likely inspired the three siblings to stick together.

Although the horrors of war certainly made their mark on Princess Charlene’s childhood, the young royal still found it in her to dream big. This was mostly due to her mother, Lynette Wittstock, who pushed Charlene to participate in competitive sports — and even inspired her to consider training for the Olympics. As the princess would later recall in an interview with Monaco Matin (via People), “When I was very young, I always heard my mother tell me how much she would have liked to participate in the Olympic Games. She practiced diving. But political circumstances at the time in [what was then called] Rhodesia did not allow national athletes to participate in the Olympics.”


Due to the severity of these political issues, Lynette was never able to practice competitive diving on the international stage. As Charlene told Monaco Matin, “She couldn’t make her dream come true, even though she trained so hard.” These stories of Lynette’s disappointment motivated Charlene to try to carry the torch her mother once carried. The princess explained, “This dream became mine during my childhood: that of participating in the Olympic Games, of winning a medal.”


In the end, Charlene trained hard and was able to represent South Africa in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. And, while she did not earn a medal, the princess’ 4 x 100 meter Medley relay team did come in 5th — no small feat.


Princess Charlene’s mother, Lynette Wittstock, may have been the one who inspired the young athlete to shoot for the Olympics, but it was her father, Michael Wittstock, who helped her get there. According to “Charlene: In Search of a Princess” by royal expert Arlene Pinsloo, the proud papa was incredibly invested in his daughter’s athletic career. Pinsloo wrote, “Michael took a keen interest in his daughter’s swimming capabilities and was a driving force in Charlene’s swimming career; he even coached her.”


Fascinatingly, it seems that Michael was way more invested in Charlene’s Olympic goals than Lynette was. As the swimmer’s former manager, Dean Price, told Pinsloo, “Her father was more involved than her mum. He was very involved in her swimming career.” From what Prince could tell, this level of involvement stepped from Michael’s appreciation of Charlene’s talent. The manager recalled, “He was passionate about her swimming and wanted to give her every opportunity so that she could be good.”


Despite all the hard work and sacrifices that Michael put into his daughter’s athletic pursuits, he does not look back on her career with any sort of resentment. If anything, he continues to be proud of Charlene for everything she accomplished. As he told Paris Match, “To be, at 15 years old, up at 4:30 a.m. every morning and doing dozens of laps, you have to be very focused and motivated … We supported her to reach the best level.”


On July 1, 2011, Princess Charlene and Prince Albert tied the knot in the first of two romantic wedding ceremonies. At the time, Charlene’s parents were overjoyed to see their daughter settling down. As Lynette Wittstock told The Citizen at the time of the engagement, she was “thrilled” with the match (via People). And, as far as the gushing mama saw things, Albert was a solid guy. She explained, “I am ecstatic my daughter is finally getting hitched. My family is happy, we like him very much.”


Michael Wittstock, who walked Charlene down the aisle at her religious ceremony, has also spoken highly of his son-in-law. In a conversation with Paris Match, the down-to-earth father described Albert as “a charming, easy-going man.” Apparently, one of Michael’s favorite things about the prince is that he does not necessarily act like one. “We go to the pub and have a few drinks,” he told the outlet. “We talk about sport, especially rugby. He doesn’t have a big head. I appreciate it very much.”


Because of this, it was not too hard for Albert to secure Michael’s permission to marry his daughter. The prince simply phoned his father-in-law-to-be and got a resounding yes. Of course, Michael would later joke that he was trying to speed up the conversation so that he could watch the big game. As the father noted in an interview with The Star, “He called me just before kick-off” (via People).


Unfortunately, however, Princess Charlene and Prince Albert’s marriage has not always been sunshine and roses. Like many other royal brides, Charlene has had to face the European tabloid press — and all the rumors that go along with it. This was true as early on as Albert and Charlene’s South African honeymoon, which caused quite a bit of commotion in the gossip columns. As it turned out, the newlyweds did not just book separate bedrooms for their getaway, but separate hotels altogether.


Naturally, it did not take long for the media to spread the story. And, within weeks, royal fans found themselves doubting the legitimacy of Albert and Charlene’s relationship. As royal expert Peter Allen told ABC News at the time, “You have to ask, why couldn’t Charlene have stayed [with Albert] in Durban? It’s a mystery.”


Luckily for the newly crowned princess, there was one person who was not afraid to stand up to the tabloids and clear the air surrounding the scandal — her father. Indeed, Michael Wittstock rushed to his daughter’s defense and, according to the Daily Mail, spoke with the outlet Burger. In this conversation, Michael condemned the way that the South African press had picked up these more negative stories about Charlene’s relationship, stating, “I am disappointed in the media. South Africans should be supporting Charlene rather than spreading nasty rumors.”


Of course, dealing with gossip was not the only challenge that Princess Charlene faced when she married Prince Albert. The Zimbabwe-born Olympian also struggled to integrate in Monégasque society — which is traditionally dominated by the international jet set. As someone who was not brought up in a wealthy family, Charlene struggled to fit in. One high society insider told the Daily Beast, “People are embarrassed by her. There was a hope that she could introduce some glamour, but now most people just feel she is tacky.” A separate source also added that members of the upper crust had been “preemptively apologizing for” the princess’ lack of savoir-faire.


Even as Charlene floundered in this hostile social environment, though, she could count on her family. Speaking to Tatler about the challenges of integrating in Le Rocher’s unique social scene, the princess revealed, “Although I have met some wonderful people since I’ve been living in Monaco, I regard them all as acquaintances. I only have two people I consider friends here. Above all, my true friends are my family.” Apparently, Charlene’s mom, Lynette Wittstock, and her brothers, Gareth Wittstock and Sean Wittstock, did what they could to be supportive during this tumultuous adjustment period. The former Olympic swimmer went on to add, “My mother and two brothers are the only friends I need and the only people I trust. I’m very grateful to have them.”


When things in Monégasque society grew too stressful for Princess Charlene to bear, she decided to go high. Rather than worrying about what people were saying about her, Charlene decided to focus on her charity work. Out of a desire to help children across the world to learn how to swim, the graceful royal established the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation. According to the organization’s website, its number one goal is to “to save lives by putting an end to drowning” — an issue that is close to Charlene’s heart.


The princess has been open about the way that her mother motivated her to start the foundation. As a former swimming instructor who has lost loved ones to drowning, Lynette Wittstock knows a thing or two about the importance of water safety. Addressing Lynette’s impact on her charity work, Charlene told Top Billing, “My mom is my inspiration. She taught myself, my two brothers, to swim. She taught hundreds of children to swim. So, I guess it’s just something that I hold close to my heart, and I hope I make her proud.”


Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that journalist Jo-Ann Strauss described Charlene as a very “hands-on” foundation leader. Just like Lynette — who would hop in the pool alongside her students — Charlene helps the kids in her charity by getting into the water with them.


Lynette Wittstock may have inspired Princess Charlene to start her foundation, but there is another person who has helped her see it through. Over the years, the princess’ younger brother Gareth Wittstock has played a major role in the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, even serving as the organization’s Secretary General.


Of course, just because Gareth has taken on this more institutional role does not mean that he doesn’t want to get his hands dirty. On the contrary, Gareth has been known to participate in some of the foundation’s most physically stimulating fundraisers, like the Riviera Water Bike Challenge. In this event, sports celebrities from across the world engage in a water bike relay race to raise money and awareness for Charlene’s charitable mission. Historically speaking, Gareth has not been afraid to throw on a jersey and race water bikes with the best of them — even though he is not a professional athlete himself.


In the past, Charlene and Gareth’s younger brother, Sean Wittstock, has also participated in the event as a way of showing his support. Speaking to the French outlet Gala about the 2023 Riviera Water Bike Challenge, Charlene seemed grateful for both of her brothers’ commitment. “I thank my brothers, Sean and Gareth, who both participated enthusiastically, along with their respective teams,” she stated.


Over the years, Princess Charlene has received a tremendous amount of support from her family. However, she has also been concerned about their safety. Unlike her in-laws, Charlene’s family doesn’t come from immense wealth, and their home in South Africa isn’t protected by a royal security team by any stretch of the imagination. And this has long been a source of stress for the princess.


In a 2010 interview with The Times, Charlene opened up about the way her parents’ living situation weighed on her. “I worry about them a lot. I worry about the fact that people break into the house and they’ve been robbed many times,” the princess shared. She went on to explain that violent crimes had also reached her parents’ vicinity. “There have been a lot of killings on our street. If you’re not from a very wealthy background — and we are from a very lower middle-class income -– you can’t afford to live in a secure area.” Despite these dangers, Charlene hinted that she was having a difficult time convincing her parents to leave, adding, “But they wouldn’t have it any other way; they are happy.”


There have been whispers about the Princess Charlene parents’ living situation changing. At the beginning of 2023, the Daily Mail reported that Michael and Lynette Wittstock had upended their lives in South Africa and moved to the South of France to be closer to their daughter. In stark contrast to the humble lifestyle that they knew back in the Johannesburg area, it is believed that the couple relocated to a more luxe situation in the village of La Turbie.


According to an unnamed royal insider, Charlene was said to be feeling much livelier since her parents moved close. As the palace-based source told the Daily Mail, “It has made the world of difference … The Wittstocks have moved into a house that’s just a few minutes’ drive away from Charlene, and they meet all the time.” The source continued, “They make her feel safe and secure, and remind her of the far more carefree life she enjoyed in South Africa before becoming a Monaco princess.”


Seems like a lovely turn of events, right? Well, days after the Daily Mail ran this story, News24’s You reported that Sean Wittstock’s wife, Chantell Wittstock, said the story wasn’t true. “Mike and Lynette are still in Benoni. They have not moved and they have no plans to move to Monaco,” she told the outlet. Royal rumors never rest.

Meghan Markle isn’t the first American actor to marry into a royal family, since long before her, Hollywood icon, Grace Kelly, married Monaco’s Prince Rainier III way back in 1956. With that said, it makes sense that the world was once fascinated with Monaco’s royal family, even if it seems like it’s usually the British monarchy making most headlines these days. Prince Rainier and Princess Grace have since died, but their children, Princess Caroline, Prince Albert II, and Princess Stephanie have continued the family legacy.


Unfortunately, the Grimaldi family has faced more than their fair share of tragedies over the years, so much so that many believe that a witch had cursed their bloodline. One of those devastating events was the unexpected death of Princess Grace in 1982. Her eldest child, Caroline, had to then take on her role as the country’s First Lady. Her father praised her for showing strength in a difficult time, saying, (via Hello!), “Princess Caroline stepped into her mother’s shoes. She has the same spirit as her mother.”


These days, Caroline keeps a low profile but that doesn’t mean she’s still not an important figure in Monaco. Her brother, Prince Albert, even told People, “What’s she’s done over the years, helping Monaco in various ways, on the cultural and charitable sides — she’s always there.” But let’s not forget Caroline has had to overcome a lot of hardships in her own life too. So let’s break down tragic details about Monaco’s Princess Caroline.


Princess Caroline might have grown up in a palace but that doesn’t mean she had the happiest childhood. In fact, she’s said that she grew up with a lot of pressure presumably because she was in the public eye. She once admitted, “I was raised with a sense of duty, obedience and… guilt,” even adding, “What I had to do always came before what I wanted to do” (via Hello!).


Caroline’s mother, Princess Grace, inferred that she held her and her sister to high standards too. “Besides being good students, they are good athletes: excellent skiers and swimmers,” she told People magazine. She went on to add that they were also aware of their positions as royals, implying that they had to carry themselves a certain way. That pressure didn’t let up when Caroline attended university either, because she suggested that she felt she had to prove that she deserved to be there.


What had to make things more difficult for Caroline was that her own parents apparently didn’t have a big role in her adolescence. In the book, “Albert II of Monaco, The Man and The Prince” (via People) Caroline revealed, “When we were little, we were probably closer to our nanny than to our parents.” She added that she and her brother, Prince Albert II, would get so upset when their nanny went on vacation, that they’d cry until their mother called her back early from it.


It’s safe to say that every princess wants to find her happily ever after, but Princess Caroline’s first marriage was basically a disaster. In 1978, at only 21-years-old, she married a French banker 17 years her senior named Philippe Junot. Her parents, particularly, her mother Princess Grace, didn’t like Junot from the beginning, and seemingly felt the marriage was just a way for Caroline to rebel. They turned out to be right with their assumption that it wouldn’t last either, because it was over just two years later.


Caroline was probably more embarrassed than heartbroken, because Junot was known to be quite the casanova, and was rumored to have cheated on her throughout their relationship. Even when the couple had just separated, Junot was seen traveling with another young woman, whom he once supposedly said was his “secretary.” He then claimed, per The Washington Post, “Our marriage is no more than a formality. There is nothing holding us together.”


Junot didn’t stop putting Caroline on blast there. He later told Ladies Home Journal that she’d gotten jealous when he was seen dancing with an ex and retaliated by flirting with other men. He then suggested that it was okay for a man to be unfaithful to his wife, as long as he doesn’t make his affair obvious. Yet, Junot blamed the media for their split, saying, (via UPI), “The press is responsible for creating an atmosphere of infidelity between Caroline and me.”


Perhaps one of the first major tragedies that Princess Caroline dealt with was her mother’s unexpected death when she was just 25-years-old. Princess Grace had died at age 52 after she suffered a stroke while driving her other daughter, Princess Stephanie. Their car had gone off the side of a steep mountain and plummeted 100 feet down a ravine. Stephanie survived the wreck, but Grace died the next day.


Caroline was said to be the only family member Stephanie initially confided in about the crash, and reiterated what Stephanie told her in the book ”Rainier and Grace: An Intimate Portrait.” ”Stephanie told me, ‘Mommy kept saying, I can’t stop. The brakes don’t work’ … She said that Mommy was in a complete panic,” she recalled, (via The Chicago Tribune). Prince Albert II later revealed that the family was shocked by the crash, while Stephanie shared that they really leaned on one another in the aftermath.


It was Caroline though, who seemed to take on the most responsibility, by stepping into her mother’s shoes to help her devastated father, Prince Rainier III, lead their country. “The way she is handling the jobs I have given her is a source of great satisfaction to me,” he said, (via Hello!). Caroline made sure her mother’s charities were attended to as well, especially those she was passionate about. For example, she reportedly re-established Monaco’s National Ballet Company as a way to honor Princess Grace.


It seemed that things were turning around for Princess Caroline when she married Stefano Casiraghi in 1983. The palace spokesperson even released a statement saying, (via Hello!), “Happiness has finally returned to a family which recently has had its share of personal tragedies.” Sadly, that happiness didn’t last long. In 1990, Casiraghi was killed in a speedboat crash when he was just 30-years-old after his catamaran flipped over during a race in the French Riviera.


Caroline had been in Paris when her husband died and rushed home after being informed of it. She later made what had to be the difficult decision to leave her native Monaco for a village in France, so she and their young children, Andrea, Charlotte, and Pierre, could rebuild their lives in private. Her brother, Prince Albert II, seemingly commended her for that, telling People in 2017, “She really raised her kids well. Without a father for many years, that’s important.”


The princess didn’t publicly discuss Casiraghi’s death, but he was widely regarded as her true love. Their daughter, Charlotte, however, later shared that her father’s untimely death had left her with a feeling of loneliness throughout her life, which had to be hard for Caroline to hear. Per Daily Mail, Charlotte told L’Observateur de Monaco, “My personal experience has been of sad events, such as my father’s early death, but these are things that happen to everyone, no matter where he comes from.”


Princess Caroline has always had a bad relationship with the press and it appears to be rightfully so. She’d been hounded by reporters as a teen, making headlines for any rebellion. A 1975 People magazine article seemingly blamed her for that negative attention, by citing how she flunked her university exams, smoked in public, and once wore a gown with a high slit. Then, there were rumors that she was photographed nude on a beach, which were supposedly fabricated for blackmail.


That same article even rudely noted, “The beginnings of her father’s double chin rather than the classic unmatchable beauty of a woman 27 years her senior, who also happens to be her mother, and Caroline’s difficulties become understandable.” Princess Grace was aware that her daughter hated the media attention at least, saying, “She can’t live the life of a normal student.” The former Hollywood movie star had been used to the public’s fascination, but Caroline was much different. She once clarified, per The Sun Sentinel, “I don’t want to compete in mother’s field.”


Years later, Caroline worked hard to live her adult life privately. In 2004, she sued a German tabloid for publishing photos of her children, and won, what turned out to be, a “landmark” case. She filed another lawsuit against the German media in 2012 after photos of her and her husband, Prince Ernst August of Hannover, on vacation were printed. Unfortunately the court didn’t side with her that time.


Princess Caroline has been rather unlucky when it comes to love, considering that her third marriage was another embarrassing mess. The royal married Prince Ernst August of Hanover in 1999 amid scandalous rumors that she was already pregnant with his child. What was even more juicy for the press though, was that Caroline had been friends with his first wife, Chantal Hochuli, who reportedly learned of their relationship from a tabloid!


Like her first husband, Philippe Junot, Ernst was widely rumored to be unfaithful to Caroline. In 2009, for example, he was spotted canoodling with a French socialite, which led Caroline to move out of their home. Yet, the most obvious incident of his infidelity had to be in 2010 when Ernst was photographed at Christmastime, kissing another woman on a beach in Thailand. A French tabloid published the photos, and per People, wrote, “The Prince and his friend only had eyes for each other.”


Caroline was in Switzerland at the time, skiing with their children, and had no doubt been humiliated to have another cheating husband. The tabloid even printed “Monaco’s First Lady Is Being Publicly Duped.” The couple finally separated though, and Caroline took their daughter back to Monaco with her. While they’ve never officially divorced, Ernst went on to date a slew of quite younger women since then. That, again, has had to be difficult for Caroline, especially since they share a child.


Prince Ernst August of Hanover obviously wasn’t an ideal husband, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he wasn’t there for his wife, Princess Caroline, while she mourned the death of her beloved father, Prince Rainier III. The palace announced the royal’s death in 2005 with a statement that read, per ABC News, “His Most Serene Highness Prince Rainier III died … following broncho-pulmonary, cardiac and kidney disorders.”


Caroline was presumably devastated to lose her father, as she appeared to have grown close to him after her mother’s death. Yet what had to make things more difficult for her was that her husband, Ernst, fell into a coma the day before Rainier died. He had been hospitalized for acute pancreatitis and once awakened from his coma, was placed in intensive care. That means on top of her grief, Caroline was probably worried about her husband’s health.


While that wasn’t necessarily Ernst’s fault, his disease and hospitalization was connected to his heavy drinking. He was eventually able to return home but the palace revealed he’d need constant medical attention. The Prince admitted to Hello! (via Royal Musings) that the whole ordeal changed him for the better, since it served as a wake-up call. “My lifestyle was more than heavy … But from now on, that’s going to change,” he said, adding, “Only now I have realized the real danger. I could have died.” Unfortunately, however, that change of heart didn’t last long.


It appears that Princess Caroline wasn’t only mortified by her husband, Prince Ernst August of Hanover’s, alleged cheating, since his violent and inappropriate behavior frequently made headlines too. A few of those incidents happened in front of Caroline, like in 1999, when he reportedly assaulted a journalist with an umbrella outside their home. Then there was the time he was accused of assaulting a nightclub owner in Kenya in 2004.


Ernst’s drinking seemingly caused a lot of problems for Caroline — and her position in Monaco. For example, in 2000, he was photographed publicly urinating at the Expo 2000 event on the Turkish Pavilion. That resulted in a diplomatic situation since Turkey thought it was an insult. The prince’s behavior seemed to get worse after they separated too. In 2018, for instance, Ernst was hospitalized after his son, Prince Christian’s wedding, for food poisoning. However, there were rumors that he had really gotten sick from over drinking.


Then in 2020, Ernst was arrested in Austria for drunkenly attacking police officers, who responded to his home after he reported an employee was threatening him. He later told an Austrian newspaper, (via Tatler), “A policeman hit me. I think they were drunk, at least they gave the impression. They chained me to an ambulance.” Ernst was taken to the psychiatry unit that night, and later received a 10 month suspended jail sentence. Months later though, he was arrested again, for threatening his employees.

At this point, it’s clear that Princess Caroline is a very important member in Monaco’s royal family, and has been since her mother’s death in 1982. However, it’s her younger brother, Prince Albert II, who became the country’s Sovereign Prince when their father, Prince Rainier III’s health was failing in 2005. Albert wasn’t married at the time though, and had illegitimate children. That led Rainier to change Monaco’s constitution to make it possible for Albert’s siblings to inherit the crown if Albert didn’t have heirs of his own. Because of that, Caroline remained the country’s matriarch for years and became Heiress Presumptive to the throne.


That all changed in 2011 when Albert married former Olympian, Charlene Wittstock. Princess Charlene then not only assumed Caroline’s role as Monaco’s First Lady, but then had twins, which knocked Caroline out of her position in line for the throne. That apparently negatively affected her, since she was upset that her role was reduced within the royal family.


There are also reports that dynamic caused tension between Caroline and Charlene, because Charlene felt dismissed, as well. Albert seemed to have contributed to that, because he told People that he often goes to his sister for advice. He explained, “I confide in my wife as well. But Caroline’s my sister, and I’ve known her a little bit longer so usually I’ll try and bounce things around her when I’m not sure about a situation.”

Princess Caroline’s relationship with Princess Charlene may have been strained, but she was seemingly upset when her sister-in-law got very ill. In November 2021, sources told Page Six that Charlene came close to death while visiting her native South Africa. It was later discovered that she suffered complications from a sinus surgery, and had to have multiple corrective procedures. Then when Charlene returned to Monaco over six months later, she went to a rehab for exhaustion. She later told Monaco Matin, “My state of health is still fragile … The road has been long, difficult and so painful.”


During that time, Caroline reportedly stepped in to assume Charlene’s role as Monaco’s First Lady, alongside her brother, Prince Albert II. That was similar to what she had to do for her father, when her mother, Princess Grace, died. During an event in 2022, royal commentator, Brittani Barger, explained to Express, “She’s been at his side for many events. She’s been right there with Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques. Playing the doting aunt, holding their hands and kind of being like a temporary ‘first lady of Monaco.'”


Caroline is no stranger to stepping up and holding it together for her family during a crisis, having done it before. In any case, it’s clear she has had to overcome many tragedies in her life. Yet, Caroline seems to always come out the other side stronger, like a true leader would. The List

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