Inside Princess Charlene's Relationship With Prince Albert

Prince Albert met his wife, Princess Charlene, back in 2000 when she was still a competitive swimmer in South Africa. The two reportedly hit it off pretty quickly, but didn't really begin dating until five years later. Since then, the pair have gone through a lot, including Albert's now-infamous surprise paternity lawsuits and Charlene's health issues that have led to a months-long separation from her family (per Tatler).

While royal families are always under the microscope, Albert and Charlene have certainly weathered more than their fair share of rumors and questions. After their legendary four-day-long wedding (that cost around $70 million and included a performance by a famous classic rock band), the two have stayed married for ten years and had twins along the way (via People).

Here's a look into a marriage that has been celebrated and derided, a relationship that has been questioned and uplifted, and two people who, despite it all, still stand by one another and seem to be focused on making it work. 

Prince Albert met Charlene Wittstock in 2000

Even though Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock didn't begin dating until 2005, the two actually met for the first time all the way back in 2000. Charlene was fresh off her stint at the 2000 Olympics, where she placed fifth alongside her teammates as a member of the 4x100 meter medley swimming team. That event wasn't her only specialty; she was also known for her skills in the 200 meter breaststroke and the 50 meter, 100 meter, and 200 meter backstroke (per Swim History).

The two were introduced while Charlene was competing in the Mare Nostrum swimming event in Monaco. Tatler notes that Charlene went on to win gold that day, but makes no note of whether or not she and Prince Albert stayed in touch after being introduced. It's likely they discussed their mutual Olympian experiences, as Prince Albert began competing in the Winter Olympics on a bob sledding team in 1988 (via ESPN).

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene began dating in 2005

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene went on their first official date on New Year's Eve in 2005. While she usually doesn't offer much by way of details, in 2011 Charlene did give Vogue a little bit of insight into what the very early days of their relationship were like. After the two made their first joint appearance at the 2006 Winter Olympics, things got official. Charlene said that they were able to bond quickly over sports, and even found themselves becoming worked up as they watched the athletes compete. She explained, "Albert put me at ease. It was clear that we shared the same passions; we both became very emotional watching the athletes. Sport is the common denominator of our lives."

Charlene's close friend Bridgette Radebe has opened up a bit about the woman who would eventually become royalty, telling Swim History that her friend was as authentic as they come, which has likely had a positive impact on her relationship with Albert. Radebe said, "Charlene has never stopped being who she is. With Charlene, what you see is what you get."

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene's early relationship was rocked by paternity scandals

Just as Prince Albert and Princess Charlene were getting into the groove of their relationship, Albert was hit with a major paternity scandal that threatened the entire thing. In fact, the couple has had to deal with multiple paternity scandals as a couple, though the births of the children predate the relationship between Albert and Charlene. 

The first lawsuit was filed by a former flight attendant named Nicole Coste who claimed that she and Albert had a short-lived relationship that resulted in the birth of their son, Alexandre. Per the Daily Mail, in 2005, Albert formally claimed paternity of his son. He later underwent another DNA test for a daughter named Jazmin Grace, who was born in the 1990s. 

As stated in People, there have been rumors that Charlene hasn't been the most welcoming of stepmothers to Alexandre and Jazmin, but it seems that by now, whatever negativity might have existed has largely been extinguished. As noted by the publication, in September 2021, a friend of the couple even credited Charlene with being the glue between Albert and his older two children.

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene got married in July 2011

Despite those challenging ups and downs, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene got married in a lavish ceremony in July 2011. Princess Charlene was visibly emotional during the televised ceremony, and much was made about the fact that she was captured crying as she and Albert exchanged vows. As the Daily Mail reports, so much attention was paid to Charlene's crying that she later had to clarify that the tears seen by millions were happy ones. She said, "Everything was just so overwhelming and there were all the mixed emotions because of the rumours, and obviously the tension built up and I burst into tears."

As told by People, the twosome actually enjoyed a lavish four-day-long event that included a live performance by classic rock band The Eagles and plenty of fireworks. The wedding festivities cost $70 million and were the first royal wedding in Monaco in over 50 years — prior to their union, the last time Monaco enjoyed a royal wedding was when Prince Rainier married Albert's mother, actress Grace Kelly

Princess Charlene converted to Catholicism for Prince Albert

Princess Charlene was raised Christian, but prior to her marriage to Prince Albert, she was a Protestant. Part of marrying Albert meant she needed to convert to Catholicism, the religion of Monaco's royal family. Charlene was reportedly just fine with the change, with the royal palace issuing a confirmation. The statement read, "Miss Charlene Wittstock, who professes Christian faith, has been admitted through a free and personal decision into full communion in the Catholic church" (via Female First).

A source close to the royal family in Monaco later told People that Charlene leapt into her conversion, finding her new religion to be a great source of strength. The source said that Charlene was "devoted" to Catholicism, adding, "Charlene has embraced the Catholic religion and is inspired by it." Charlene herself has only praised the religion, and ahead of her 2011 wedding to Albert, she made it clear that she was happy with the choice. Per People, Charlene said, "The values of this religion profoundly touch me and correspond perfectly to my spirit."

Some reports alleged that Princess Charlene tried to leave before the wedding

Despite insisting that she was completely happy on her wedding day, there were several reports that Princess Charlene made three separate attempts to leave her relationship ahead of the pair's 2011 nuptials. The French paper Le Journal du Dimanche reported that Charlene and Prince Albert came to some sort of an agreement ahead of their wedding after Charlene had attempted to find refuge in the South African embassy in Paris, France (via the Independent).

CBS News also ran a story about Charlene's reported attempts to escape, citing Le Journal du Dimanche's report and alleging that once her passport had been taken away by Monaco palace authorities, she was "persuaded by senior Palace officials to move on with her wedding." Charlene reportedly next tried to escape during the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix the following May, and she reportedly again lost her passport after being allegedly apprehended on the way to Nice to make a one-way flight to South Africa.

However, Albert's top advisor later told People that the stories were false. Christiane Stahl said, "Charlene never left to go to the airport, nothing like that ever happened. She was never upset and never wanted to stop the wedding" (via CBS News).

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene welcomed twins in 2014

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene welcomed their twins Gabriella Thérèse Marie and Jacques Honoré Rainier on December 10, 2014. The palace issued a short statement confirming the births, sharing, "The births took place on 10 December 2014 at the Maternity of the Princess Grace Hospital Monaco. The princess and the children are doing well" (via Hello! magazine).

Despite the fact that Prince Jacques was born two minutes after his sister Gabriella, he is ahead of her in line for the throne. Albert had previously explained that in Monaco, if a set of twins is made up of a boy and a girl, the boy is the one who inherits the throne. Hello! magazine also noted that the twins were celebrated throughout the country by church bells, which rang for 15 minutes, boat horns, and the firing of 21 cannons for each baby at Fort Antoine.

While he stated that he believed Charlene knew the biological sex of the twins ahead of time, Albert shared that he chose to wait until their birth to find out. He told the Monaco Matin, "You know, one doesn't often have the opportunity to have such pleasant surprises in life, that is why I prefer not to know the babies' gender before the birth."

2021 kicked off a strange year for the couple after a third paternity suit was filed

Unfortunately for Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, 2021 has proven to be a very challenging year. While the ongoing global pandemic makes that statement a little true for most of us, Albert and Charlene's marriage was hit with another heavy blow when another woman accused Albert of having fathered her child. Per the Telegraph, the allegations date back to 2004, when a woman identified only as Mariza S. said she and Albert met in a nightclub in Brazil.

As published by Town & Country magazine, the woman claimed that she didn't know who Prince Albert was until years after their two-week affair was over; she had been led to believe he was a diplomat from Canada. Her teenage daughter, Celia, is said to have sent Albert a letter in which she make pleas such as, "I don't understand why I grew up without a father, and now that I've found you, you don't want to see me."

Town & Country states that Albert's lawyer, Thierry Lacoste, has completely negated the story.

Princess Charlene claims to support her husband through 'good and bad'

While Princess Charlene and Prince Albert never issued a personal statement regarding Albert's first two paternity scandals, it seems that the third prompted at least one of them to say something. At the beginning of 2021, Charlene gave an interview to the French publication Point De Vue and affirmed that she trusted and supported her husband completely (via the Daily Mail). 

Charlene explained that she is the first person Albert comes to with problems, adding, "I often tell him, 'No matter what, no matter what, I'm a thousand percent behind you. I'll stand by you whatever you do, in good times or in bad.'" Charlene added that she feels she has to "protect" her husband and that she will be next to him no matter what. The publication also asked Charlene if she was happy, to which the royal simply replied, "There are times more or less easy, it is the case for everyone." 

The Daily Mail also noted that Charlene later chatted about missing her home in South Africa, and admitted that, while it's easy to believe she has a charmed life, privilege isn't everything.

Princess Charlene said her husband has been her 'rock'

In May 2021, Princess Charlene's planned trip to South Africa turned into a stay that ended up lasting much longer than expected. As explained by People, the trip began after Charlene underwent a a sinus lift and bone graft ahead of planned dental implants in mid-May. Her trip to South Africa was ostensibly to support wildlife conservation, but Charlene later shared that she ended up needing another surgery in June to address severe pain. 

Amid speculation that Charlene was prolonging her South African stay because she didn't want to return to Monaco, she spoke to Channel24 and affirmed that nothing could be further from the truth. Charlene explained that she was relying heavily on her husband to get her through the experience. She shared, "Albert is my rock and strength and without his love and support I would not have been able to get through this painful time."

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene celebrated their 10th anniversary separately

As a result of her prolonged stay in South Africa, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene ended up observing their 10th wedding anniversary separately. Though not together, the pair did release a joint statement acknowledging the day. Per People, the statement reads, "HSH Prince Albert and HSH Princess Charlene would like to thank everyone for their continued love and support. The generosity they have experienced during the ten years of their marriage is heart-warming."

Per Hello! magazine, Princess Charlene also released her own statement, acknowledging how difficult it was for her to be away from her husband on their anniversary for the first time ever. Charlene explained that the decision had been left up to her medical team, who told her she was unable to travel back home to Monaco. She added that she simply looked forward to being home with her husband and children, saying, "My daily conversations with Albert and my children help immensely to keep my spirits up, but I miss being with them."

The statement came after Albert and the pair's twins visited Charlene in South Africa. 

Princess Charlene finally reunited with Prince Albert in November 2021

At long last, Princess Charlene came back home to Monaco in November 2021. For his part, Prince Albert has appeared to be confused by and resentful of the rumors that have dogged the couple about why she left. Albert explained to People that the official story — Charlene's 10-day trip ended up lasting much longer due to necessary medical procedures — was true, adding, "She didn't leave Monaco in a huff! She didn't leave because she was mad at me or at anybody else."

However, Albert did understand why their prolonged separation led many to question the state of the two's marriage, and acknowledged that it would have been wise to address the issue earlier than later. He shared with People that the ongoing rumors were tough on the couple, adding, "Of course it affects her, of course it affects me. Misreading events is always detrimental."

Charlene's sister-in-law Chantell Wittstock also addressed the rumors, explaining to Channel2, "The princess is extremely happy to be back home with her family." 

Not long after, Prince Albert revealed that his wife was not currently living at home with their family, but instead has been staying at an undisclosed location as she recovers from fatigue that he's described as "not just physical" (via Hello!).