Prince Albert's Ex Is Feuding With Monaco's Royal Family

On the day that Nicole Coste first met Prince Albert of Monaco in 1997, she wasn't expecting anything too exciting to happen. In fact, she wasn't even supposed to go to work. But, when one of her fellow Air France flight attendants called in sick, Nicole took her place on a flight from Nice to Paris. It was there that the Togo-born beauty met her prince charming for the first time. "I always served in First Class so I was accustomed to dealing with VIPs. When I saw Albert our eyes met and I knew this was different. There was definitely an aura around him and we hit it off immediately," Nicole later recalled in an interview with the Daily Mail.

According to the Air France hostess' account, she was not the only one who caught feels on that fateful flight. Albert took the liberty of asking for her phone number, and soon the two were an item, albeit a secret one. Indeed, they saw each other for about six years, showing up at the same Monegasque social events, but always appearing separately to keep their love story out of the tabloids.

Soon, however, it became clear that Albert and Nicole's relationship was not so lighthearted. In 2003, the couple welcomed a son, Alexandre Grimaldi — prompting them to drift apart. Since then, a feud has brewed between Nicole and the Monegasque royals, calling into question issues of inheritance, family, and what it means to be royal.

Prince Albert did not immediately recognize his son with Nicole Coste

Although it is hard to pinpoint exactly when Nicole Coste's feud with the Monegasque royal family began, all signs point to 2003. Indeed, it was on August 24 of this year that Nicole gave birth to a son, Alexandre Grimaldi — only to find that her prince charming didn't necessarily have any plans to be a present parent. For one thing, it is understood that Prince Albert was not at the hospital when Alexandre was born, leaving Nicole to undergo the pains of childbirth solo. For another, he was not exactly quick to claim paternity. 

On the contrary, Albert dragged his feet on the matter, allowing weeks, and then months, to pass by without taking responsibility for his first-born son. As explained in the French tabloid, L'Express, Nicole had to fight her ex-boyfriend step-by-step on the matter and struggled to obtain proof that Albert was, indeed, Alexandre's father. In terms of genetic evidence, it has been reported that Albert took a top-secret D.N.A. test, which was performed at a lab in Switzerland. However, this was only one step in what L'Express called a "long and tough negotiation" between the former lovers. 

Sadly, this was not the only time that Albert avoided his fatherly responsibilities. Back in 1992, his former lover, Tamara Rotolo, gave birth to a daughter, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi. Albert ignored Rotolo's requests for a paternity test for years, only taking responsibility when Jazmin was eleven. 

Nicole Coste went to the press about the baby's existence

Although Prince Albert has always seemed reluctant to recognize the existence of his royal love children, he eventually had no choice other than to come clean about the existence of his son, Alexandre Grimaldi. Back in 2005, just as the little boy was pushing his second birthday, Nicole Coste scheduled an exclusive interview with the French tabloid, Paris Match. Perhaps out of desperation for Albert to finally recognize the child as his own, Nicole revealed Alexandre's existence to the world. She even provided personal photos to the outlet as proof of the baby's paternity. 

For most Monegasque citizens, this news came as a major shock. At the time, the French investigative journal, Le Monde, reported that Alexandre was being referred to as the prince's "secret child." And, while both Albert and the palace refrained from making any immediate public comments, the Grimaldi family lawyer was not so slow to respond to Nicole's claims. Speaking to Le Monde, the royal representative, Thierry Lacoste, stated, "A judiciary strategy will be determined in the coming days."

Naturally, Albert could not maintain his silence forever, and on July 7, 2005, the prince made a public statement claiming Alexandre as his first-born son. According to a statement from the palace, "The prince's ethical convictions lead him to face up to his responsibilities and to recognize the child" (via L'Express). However, L'Express claimed that Albert was way more motivated by "media blackmail."

The former flight attendant felt forgotten when Albert married Charlene

Once Prince Albert finally claimed paternity over Alexandre Grimaldi, the tensions between him and Nicole Coste seemed to die down. And, for a while, both parties appeared to move on. However, when Albert decided to pop the question to his current partner, Princess Charlene Wittstock, back in 2010, things started to get complicated. 

As Albert was getting ready for a lifelong commitment, Monaco was preparing for a royal wedding — and Nicole was perhaps gearing herself up to face some complex family dynamics. Indeed, following the new couple's nuptials, all of their future children would be given the title of "prince" or "princess" — an honor that Albert would never bestow on Alexandre. What's more, the pair's firstborn son would be considered the heir to the throne — a position that could have been Alexandre's. Perhaps because of all this confusion, on the eve of Albert and Charlene's 2011 wedding, Nicole made headlines by strutting through the center of Monaco with her son in tow.  

This move was blasted by the European tabloids. A piece in the French outlet, Voici, asked, somewhat rhetorically, what Nicole's intentions were. At one point, the author wondered, "Does Nicole hope to make the prince doubt [his new marriage] by [conjuring] ... fond memories?" Apparently, though, the Togolese beauty had a much simpler goal. Speaking about that incident to the Daily Mail, years later, Nicole reflected, "I was fed up being a secret."

Nicole Coste was pushed out of Monegasque society

Secret or not, Nicole Coste was unwelcome in Monegasque society after Prince Albert's wedding to Princess Charlene. Despite living just miles from the principality, in the nearby French town of Villefranche-sur-Mer, Nicole found it difficult to maintain the vibrant social life that she had previously established in Le Rocher. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Nicole explained, "After the wedding I suffered because some socialites stopped inviting me to events if they thought the prince and princess would be there. They thought it would cause embarrassment."

Apparently, Monaco's upper crust was concerned that Albert and Charlene might not react well to seeing Nicole at a party. In fact, some people thought that rubbing shoulders with the prince's former paramour could even come across as traitorous to the throne. According to Nicole, her social life came to a halt because, "Too many are afraid of appearing disloyal to the crown."

In practical terms, this meant that Nicole was quickly pushed out of Monegasque society. She stopped receiving invitations to parties. And, even on the rare occasion that she went out, Nicole was treated badly. As she told the Daily Mail, "Once I was invited to a yacht party during the Grand Prix and some guests questioned why I was there. The guests said, "Prince Albert and Princess Charlene might sail into port and come on board for a drink. It would be awkward if she is here."

Nicole Coste publicly attacked Albert and Charlene in 2014

As Nicole Coste was further and further exiled from Monaco's most elite events, she decided to leave the region. In 2013, she packed up her belongings and moved to London, where she and Alexandre could have a fresh start. Moving away from Monaco, however, came with certain drawbacks — including an ever-growing distance between Prince Albert and his son. 

Speaking to the Daily Mail in 2014, Nicole divulged that Albert would go months at a time without seeing Alexandre. And, apparently, this was one of the things that the young boy least liked about his new home. Nicole confessed, "At Easter, Alexandre said two things upset him. One was the British weather and the other was not seeing his father." This revelation seemed to weigh on the single mother. As she put it in the same interview, "A son needs a father to love, help and guide him through life. We must find a way to make this happen."

Despite her philosophical words, however, Nicole did not hesitate to blame Albert and Princess Charlene for the distance between Alexandre and his dad. "It has become impossible [for Albert to see Alexandre] since he married that girl," said the protective mother. "'I suppose as a new wife, how would one feel? But she should think about my innocent child. I don't want to attack her but I think it is just jealousy, and I don't know why."

In 2021, she characterized Charlene as an evil stepmother

If Nicole Coste's comments about Princess Charlene were a little bit intense, there was no love lost between the former flight attendant and the Monegasque royal. Indeed, the European tabloids had long noted the layers of tension simmering between the two women. And, as the years went on, this sense of rivalry has not seemed to get much better.

This was certainly clear in 2021 when Nicole went to the press and attacked Charlene a second time. Indeed, chatting with the French outlet, Paris Match, the former Air France hostess characterized the princess as something of an evil stepmother to her son, Alexandre Grimaldi. Nicole said, "As for Charlene, it's a subject that I can't avoid because we are often put in parallel ... But during the engagement period, I experienced things that alerted and shocked me." Apparently, on one occasion prior to the royal wedding, Charlene had taken it upon herself to move Alexandre out of his usual palace bedroom — and allegedly made him sleep in the servants' quarters. "She, for example, changed my son's room, taking advantage of his father's absence to install him in the employee wing," Nicole said. 

Even as she launched his serious allegations, however, Nicole insisted that she always tried to stay cordial with the princess. "Given our respective ties to the prince, we should have made sure to support each other cordially. In our situation, diplomacy had to prevail." 

Prince Albert defended Princess Charlene

In the end, though, the Monegasque royal family was not pleased with all of Nicole Coste's controversial public statements. Prince Albert was said to be particularly incensed by some of the things that Nicole had said about Princess Charlene. In fact, he was so heated about the whole matter that he decided to clap back. 

Speaking with the French tabloid, Point de Vue (via Gala), Albert revealed that he had no idea what his ex-girlfriend was going to say in that controversial 2021 article. "In the particular case of this article concerning Madame Coste, I obviously did not know what was going on." Apparently, Nicole had warned him that she would be speaking with the media, although the prince believed "it would just be a birthday photo [of Alexandre]." Ultimately, the prince revealed that he was "furious" to read Nicole's interview. "It was out of place," Albert said.

Interestingly, this was not the first time that Albert condemned someone for speaking ill of his wife. Over the years, the prince has defended Charlene so many times that she told the local outlet, Monaco Matin, that he was her "protector" (via People). Indeed, despite rumors that there is trouble in Albert and Charlene's marriage, the princess has called her husband "very supportive." She revealed that when the couple received some bad press, "We discussed these malicious articles together." What's more, Charlene said that Albert "did everything to protect me and our children."

Nicole Coste was unsympathetic towards Charlene's illness

Despite Prince Albert's efforts to defend his wife, he could not seem to stop his ex from making publicly disparaging comments. In 2021, when Princess Charlene fell ill with a mysterious ENT infection, Nicole Coste was less than sympathetic towards her rival. "I don't care what's going on with her. Why should I?" Nicole told the Daily Mail at the time. According to the former Air France hostess, the princess could have very well deserved the illness that hit her. "Everything that is happening to her is karma," Nicole claimed. 

As if those comments were not sharp enough, Nicole went on to assert that the Monegasque locals were not all too keen on Charlene: "The people in Monaco love me more than they do Charlene. They really love and respect me." And, while these kinds of claims are really difficult to prove, it is true that some people in the principality have worried about the princess' commitment to the crown. As one anonymous local told the Daily Mail that same year, some were concerned with rumors that Charlene was living outside the palace and hoped she would "start living like a proper princess." In that sense, Nicole's comments about Charlene's popularity just contributed more fuel to already-existing rumors about her ability to do her duties. One might even think that these words could hit a bit too close to home.

She expressed an interest in taking on a more princess-like role

Despite everything that she has said about the Monegasque royal family, Nicole Coste has also expressed an interest in becoming more involved in royal life. On one occasion, she even implied interest in taking on something reminiscent of official duties — something atypical for a prince's ex-girlfriend. However, Nicole has never been your typical royal ex, and, as such, in a 2021 interview with Paris Match, she stated: "Regarding the Principality, I love the Monegasques with a sincere love, and they reciprocate. If I am asked to contribute to a charitable or other task, I will do so with great pleasure and benevolence." 

While it might sound unusual for someone in Nicole's position to seek a greater royal role, the Togolese beauty does have a really unique relationship to the crown. As the mother of Albert's first-born son, Nicole is technically part of the family. And, interestingly, she knows it. As she told Paris Match, "Because of the existence of Alexander, we are linked, and my name is systematically associated with that of Monaco."

Compellingly, Nicole made this offer right when the crown was at its weakest. Around the same time that the single mother gave this interview, her rival, Princess Charlene, was taking a leave of absence from royal life. In that sense, Nicole seems to be reaffirming her duty to the crown, just as her competitor shrinks her own. 

Albert's ex-girlfriend has appeared at more official events

As Princess Charlene has taken a step back from royal life, Nicole Coste has grown more and more visible to the public. As if to prove the strength of her commitment to the crown, Nicole has begun to attend many of the same events frequented by the rest of the Monegasque royal family. In July 2023, the glamorous single mother attended Monaco's annual Red Cross Ball, dressed to the nines in a slender rouge gown. 

As noted by Paris Match, Nicole's resurfacing may have made waves, but it was hardly the first time that she made a noteworthy public appearance. Indeed, Nicole attended the Grand Prix along with her son, Alexandre Coste. The pair were also spotted at a dinner for the Prince Albert of Monaco Foundation, as well as at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021. 

Perhaps, Nicole has attended these events to demonstrate that she is capable of doing the duties that Charlene has relinquished. Perhaps, she has other motives. Either way, one thing remains clear — we can expect to see a lot more of this royal personality moving forward.