Inside Princess Charlene's Relationship With Her Kids

When Princess Charlene married Prince Albert in 2011, the couple's wedding seemed like the stuff of fairy tales. Charlene, who had suffered a traumatic childhood in war-torn Zimbabwe, transformed from a commoner with a tragic past into a full-blown princess. Albert, meanwhile, was able to shed his reputation as the "playboy prince" and restart his life as a family man. 

While this all might sound like the start of a beautiful marriage, things behind the scenes were not so romantic. In reality, the newlywed couple was under an immense amount of pressure to produce an heir — and quickly. Because Albert already had two children out of wedlock, it was important for him to father at least one legitimate baby. Failure to do so could mean that one of these royal love children would contest their right to the throne. 

Thus, all eyes were on Charlene to see if she could fulfill this duty. And, when she did not get pregnant within the first year — or two — of marriage, the people of Monaco began to compare her unfavorably to Princess Grace Kelly, who produced three children. As royal expert Coryne Hall told Express, "Princess Grace gave birth to her first child nine months after the wedding ... So straight away, after Charlene married, everybody was asking 'Is she pregnant yet?'" Luckily, 2014 saw Charlene deliver two healthy twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella. And the trio is now said to be fast friends.

Princess Charlene welcomed her twins prematurely

On December 10, 2014, Princess Charlene of Monaco fulfilled her duty as a princely consort and gave birth to two healthy babies. First to arrive was the adorable Princess Gabriella, who was followed just two minutes later by her twin, Prince Jacques. Based on the Monégasque legal code, which still prioritizes gender in the line of succession, Jacques became the heir and Gabriella the spare. 

As Prince Albert announced at the time, "It is with great joy that I have the pleasure of announcing that Princess Charlene gave birth ... to a boy and a girl named Jacques Honore Rainier, who will bear the title of crown prince, and Gabriella Therese Marie, princess and second in the line of succession" (via AFP).

Although the arrival of Gabriella and Jacques resolved an issue of great constitutional importance for the Monégasque people, questions of inheritance were the last thing on Charlene's mind when she greeted her children for the first time. Because the twins were born prematurely, the princess was primarily focused on their health. As she would later tell Paris Match, "At first, I was happy to hear their first cries. I was, of course, a little overwhelmed by emotion." The twins' safe arrival did not mean that they could go home right away. In the same interview, Charlene revealed that she and the children would have to be monitored in the hospital for a few more days.

The princess felt attached to her kids from the get-go

Initially, there was a whole lot of worry surrounding the births of Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella. Despite all this, however, Princess Charlene managed to focus on her new role as a mother, connecting deeply with her twins from the very beginning. 

Shortly after giving birth, Charlene opened up about this dynamic with Paris Match. Reflecting on her transformation into a mom, the princess explained: "I believe that a very strong protective instinct was born in me at the same time as them. A very strong bond unites us, they are under my responsibility for the years to come. And I will do my best to guide them, raise them, and pass on to them the values ​​that my husband and I share."

Naturally, though, at the time of the interview, Gabriella and Jacques were too small to teach. Even so, Charlene seemed happy just to be in the same room as them. The proud mama told Paris Match, "Every second with them is magical. I look forward to spending more time in their presence. Watching them grow is wonderful. It changes life forever." When asked which parent the twins resembled more, Charlene seemed stumped, revealing that the only thing she was certain about was her feelings for them. "What I can tell you is that they are both very active and very expressive. They are magnificent, adorable, I am madly in love with them."

She wanted to teach Gabriella and Jacques to swim ASAP

It's no secret that Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques brought a tremendous amount of joy into Princess Charlene's life. However, like many other new mothers, Charlene could not help but worry that something would happen to her babies. Naturally, the princess was particularly concerned about the issue of drowning. After all, Charlene herself had a near-death experience at just 3 years old, when the family dog pushed her into the pool. Because her own mother, Lynette Wittstock, had been a swimming instructor, the tiny Charlene was able to make her way to safety. With this personal history in mind, the princess grew resolved that her own children would also learn to swim just as early on.

Shortly after Jacques and Gabriella reached their first birthday, Charlene touched on this topic in a palace-funded interview. In the video, which has been uploaded to the palace's Facebook, Charlene said, "I think the one thing that I would say was the most important for me, as a mother, was to get them drown-proofed." 

She went on to reveal that the twins had already learned a "self-rescue method" that could help them stay safe in case of an accident. She explained, "They swim before they can walk." Interestingly, Charlene played a major role in instructing the twins. As Prince Albert shared in the same interview, "Charlene very quickly became their teacher for this method of lifesaving in the water."

The princess does not want to put Olympic pressure on her children

Because Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella learned to swim so early on, some royal fans have wondered about the twins' potential future as competitive athletes. After all, their mother, Princess Charlene, was once an Olympic swimmer who snatched fifth place in the 4x100 medley relay. Not to be outdone, their father, Prince Albert, also had an Olympic past of his own, one which led him to bobsled in the international competition five times over the course of nearly 15 years. With these genetics at play, it might only seem natural for Gabriella and Jacques to follow in their parents' footsteps. Charlene, however, says "not so fast."

Chatting with Monaco Matin, the protective mother revealed her misgivings about enrolling the royal twins in any sort of extreme athletic training. She said: "I don't necessarily want to push them into intensive practice of a sport. The prince and I were Olympic athletes. It is a choice which is very demanding, which requires constant training which, I speak with full knowledge of the facts, can take precedence over your childhood."

Of course, just because Charlene won't push the twins to compete in the Olympics doesn't mean that she won't support their more athletic hobbies. As she said in the same interview, "Gabriella has a passion for hip-hop dance. Jacques, on the other hand, practices taekwondo. The importance is to give them a good education, self-confidence, and a happy childhood."

Charlene tries to protect Gabriella and Jacques from the weight of their roles

At the end of the day, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene don't need to put a lot of pressure on Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella for them to feel the heat. As young members of the Monégasque princely family, the twins are already growing up with all eyes on them. And, while this dynamic is pretty normal in royal circles, it is not necessarily pleasant. Because of this, Charlene tries to do her best to help her kids feel normal, despite their unusual situation.

In a conversation with Monaco Matin, Charlene touched on this topic, explaining, "But above all, my husband and I think it's important that in school and in their daily activities, they live like any other child their age." From what we can tell, the princess hopes that this sense of routine will counteract the negative effects of being famous. "They are only children, but subject to public scrutiny," she said.

Ultimately, though, Jacques and Gabriella are members of Monaco's most famous family. As such, they are expected to perform some royal duties — like appearing on the palace balcony or even handing out gifts to other children for Christmas. Recognizing this, Charlene told Monaco Matin, "They are still very young, but they are already aware of their role in Monaco. The most important thing is to communicate, answer their questions, and help them take their first steps." 

Princess Charlene loves sharing South African culture with her kids

Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella may lead an unusual life in Monaco, but that doesn't mean that the twins have never been exposed to life outside the palace walls. As a former commoner herself, Princess Charlene has been keen on introducing her children to elements of the real world. And, in Charlene's view, there may be no better way to do that than take the kids to spend some time in South Africa — where she herself lived for many years. 

As the princess said in an interview with Eyewitness News, "I am African, and this is my heritage. It will always be. It's in my heart and in my veins." She later added of her children, "I can't wait for them to come here. I can't wait for them to be introduced to Africa." Thus, Charlene was likely very excited in 2019 when she had the chance to take the twins to Johannesburg.

In the biography, "Charlene: In Search of a Princess," South African royal expert Alene Prinsloo reported that Charlene told the press how her trip went. Apparently, the Zimbabwe-born blond shared, "The twins were crazy about it. They played in the kids' zone, ate chicken nuggets, and drank bubblegum milkshakes." At one point, Gabriella even participated in a traditional South African dance, demonstrating a combination of confidence and excitement. For Charlene, the experience of watching her children soak up this unique culture was probably priceless.

The princess had to spend months away from the twins

Although Princess Charlene is known for being a dedicated mother, a 2021 medical emergency obligated her to spend months away from Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques. Indeed, in May of that year, the princess headed to South Africa, where she was planning to do some work for her foundation. Apparently, the whole trip was supposed to last just days. However, when Charlene developed a severe ENT infection, she was forced to remain in the Rainbow Nation to seek medical care. In the end, the princess had to have various surgeries, meaning that she could not return to Monaco for six months.

During this challenging period, Charlene was separated from her children, missing milestone moments like Gabriella and Jacques' first day of school. Naturally, this situation left the princess with a heavy heart. In a video shared on her now-deleted Instagram, the princess told the world what it was like to be away from Jacques and Gabriella, confessing that she missed the twins "terribly" (via The Daily Mail). The Monégasque royal added, "If there is any mother out there who has been separated from her children for months would feel the same way I feel." 

At the time, Prince Albert told People just how much Charlene was struggling: "She's ready to come home. She's jokingly said that she's ready to stow away on a ship to come back to Europe."

She allegedly competed with Princess Caroline to make parenting decisions

It is largely understood that, while Princess Charlene was battling her ENT infection, other royal women stepped up and helped care for Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella. Chief among these were Prince Albert's sisters, Princess Caroline and Princess Stéphanie, who are both known to dote on the royal twins. Unfortunately, however, these women's influence on Gabriella and Jacques only seemed to grow over time. Ultimately, this dynamic has led to rumors that Caroline has even tried to edge Charlene out of major decisions concerning the children.

Chatting with Woman's Day about this issue, one palace insider claimed that the tensions between Charlene and Caroline had reached a boiling point. The source said, "Recently, Caroline took it upon herself to call the headmistress of their old school to discuss their socialization ... the twins are currently educated at home at Charlene's request." Apparently, Caroline's involvement in the kids' day-to-day activities has left the first lady feeling both nervous and vulnerable. "Charlene is frantic to see that Caroline is taking over influence on her twins."

Interestingly, the source claims that Caroline's supposed meddling comes from her desire to influence the future of the monarchy, stating, "She's determined to mold the twins, especially Jacques the heir apparent, to her idea of what a little prince should be." If successful, this strategy would give Caroline quite a bit of control over the principality's next generation of rulers.

Charlene enjoys traveling with her kids

One of the biggest perks of being a European royal is having the opportunity to travel across the world. Over the years, Princess Charlene has enjoyed several luxurious family trips with Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques. And, from what we can tell, the Grimaldi crew has a whole lot of fun on these vacations. 

In 2023, the family was spotted on the coast of Corsica, lounging together on the beach. Photos of the trip show the royals snorkeling, paddling, and even throwing a frisbee. As Charlene would later tell the local outlet Monaco Matin, they spent three full weeks in the region, sailing from beach to beach on a yacht.

Speaking with the publication, Charlene could not help but gush over how wonderful it was to go to Corsica with her loved ones. "It's an island that gives me renewed energy ... To tell the truth, I don't want to go on vacation anywhere else in the world! The beaches are so beautiful, the mountains welcoming. It's a little paradise. And there is a historic link between Monaco and Corsica, which is important to maintain." As for Jacques and Gabriella, they seemed to enjoy the trip, as well. After all, shortly after Charlene dropped them off at their first day of school, the twins asked her when their next trip was!

She shares her passion for fashion with Princess Gabriella

Traveling is not the only passion that Princess Charlene wants to share with the next generation. She also hopes to pass down her personal interest in style to Princess Gabriella — who, in turn, seems quite keen to follow in her mother's fashion footsteps. 

In 2022, Charlene took the young princess to the Monte Carlo Fashion Awards, where the duo bonded over their favorite looks. Reflecting on this experience in an interview with Nice Matin, the glamorous mama shared, "This mother/daughter fashion outing for the Monte Carlo Fashion Awards delighted me, and for the first time, we went on stage together. She wasn't nervous at all, rather amused, and she could even have done the show on stage."

Just because Charlene and Gabriella attended the event together, though, does not mean they must wear similar outfits. On the contrary, Charlene has said that she encourages her daughter to choose her own clothing based on her own personal taste. The princess explained, "Gabriella has a style all her own, and I like to encourage that individuality." At the end of the day, though, Gabriella is still no more than a child, and the items that make her feel good aren't necessarily the ones we see on the runway. Charlene said, "Gabriella, like all little girls her age, loves princess dresses, doing her hair, and even trying my lipsticks."

Rumor has it that Charlene wants her kids to have a different kind of life

Although certain elements of royal life are probably wonderful, issues like the interest of the public and resulting media attention can make it very challenging. Over the years, Princess Charlene has struggled to adjust to her public role — especially when it comes to following strict protocol. Because of this, there have been whispers that Charlene does not want Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella to spend too much of their childhood at the palace. 

As one royal insider told Woman's Day, "She's realized that not only is life in Monaco toxic for herself, but she worries about how it might affect her 7-year-old twins who are growing up with all kinds of pressures, tugged in all directions, far from the real world."

Compellingly, this same royal insider hinted that Charlene may want to take Jacques and Gabriella to live abroad for some time. Although South Africa is understood to be too far from Monaco to be a viable option, the source alleged that Switzerland would be close enough to the principality to be seen as acceptable. Either way, though, it is believed that Charlene would be happy to take the twins almost anywhere outside of Monaco. "She's desperate to take her children away from this pressurized atmosphere."