Charlene, Princess of Monaco

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Charlene
Charlene, Princess of Monaco-2.jpg
Charlene at the wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden in June 2013
Princess consort of Monaco
Tenure 1 July 2011 – present
Spouse Albert II, Prince of Monaco
Full name
Charlene Lynette
House House of Grimaldi (by marriage)
Father Michael Kenneth Wittstock
Mother Lynette Humberstone Wittstock
Born (1978-01-25) 25 January 1978 (age 36)
Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
Religion Roman Catholicism
Protestantism (previously)
Occupation Swimmer

Charlene, Princess of Monaco (French: Charlène; born Charlene Lynette Wittstock on 25 January 1978), is a South African former Olympic swimmer, and since 2011 the wife of Albert II, Prince of Monaco.

Charlene is the daughter of Michael and Lynette Wittstock. She was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to a family of German, Irish and English descent by way of South Africa and Rhodesia. Her family relocated to Transvaal, South Africa, in 1989, after living in Zimbabwe for several years. She represented South Africa at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, with her team finishing fifth in the 4 × 100 metre medley relay. She retired from competitive swimming in 2007.

Charlene met Prince Albert at the Mare Nostrum (swimming), Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2001. They were first seen together in 2006, and she has accompanied the prince on many of his official duties since then. They announced their engagement in June 2010, and were married on 1 July 2011. On May 30, 2014, it was announced that Princess Charlene and Prince Albert are expecting their first child by the end of the year.[1]

Early life and family history[edit]

Charlene was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia.[2] She is the daughter of Michael Kenneth Wittstock,[3] a sales manager, and Lynette Wittstock (née Humberstone), a former competitive diver and swimming coach.[4][5] Charlene has two younger brothers: Gareth (born 1980), a computer technician, and Sean (born 1983), a sales representative.[4] Her family relocated to South Africa in 1989, when she was 11 years old.[2] Charlene attended Tom Newby Primary school in Benoni, near Johannesburg, from 1988 to 1991.[6]

The Wittstock family is of German origin; Charlene's great-great-grandparents Martin Gottlieb Wittstock and Johanne Luise Wittstock (née Schönknecht) emigrated to South Africa from the Pomeranian village of Zerrenthin in northern Germany in 1861 to escape hardship. In South Africa, the Wittstocks worked as handymen, and unsuccessfully prospected for diamonds.[7] Gottlieb's son, Heinrich Carl Wittstock would marry Olive Florence Caldwell, of English origin. Their son Dudley Kenneth Wittstock, Charlene's paternal grandfather, married Sylvia Fagan Nicolson, also of English origin.[8] Charlene was given a certificate in 2014 which verified her Irish ancestry.[9]

Michael Wittstock announced in April 2011 that he was considering moving the family from Benoni to Monaco because of the increasing crime rate.[10]

Swimming career[edit]

Charlene, Princess of Monaco
Medal record
Women's swimming
Competitor for  South Africa
All-Africa Games
Gold 1999 Johannesburg 100 m freestyle
Gold 1999 Johannesburg 100 m backstroke
Gold 1999 Johannesburg 4 x 100 m medley
Silver 1999 Johannesburg 4 x 100 m freestyle

Charlene won three gold medals and a silver medal at the 1999 All-Africa Games in Johannesburg. She also was a member of the South African women's 4×100 m medley team at the 2000 Summer Olympics, which finished fifth. She finished sixth at the 2002 FINA Short Course World Championships for the 200 m breaststroke. She left her Durban-based team (the Seagulls) to join the Tuks Swimming Club at the High Performance Centre of the University of Pretoria.[11] She never enrolled in classes. The Club sponsored her by providing her with free access to their pools, free coaching, accommodations, and gymnasium access.

She decided to leave Pretoria in January 2005, and returned to Durban; she then went to the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal, where she joined a former University of Pretoria swimming coach, Brannislav Ivkovic. On 13 April 2007, Charlene regained her title as South Africa’s 50 m women’s backstroke champion when she completed the 50 m backstroke final at the Telkom SA National Aquatic Championships in 30:16 seconds, to finish third behind Australia’s Sophie Edington and Brazil’s Fabíola Molina.

Over the years she has won several national titles. She planned to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics in China, which she said would be her swansong, but she did not qualify.[12] Previously she had been out of competitive swimming for 18 months with a shoulder injury. Charlene said she would be swimming in Europe in the near future, hoping to improve her times. "I have a year left of competitive swimming, and I just want to be the best I can be in that time. After that I want to get involved in charity work, and development work with athletes' commissions."[12]

Special Olympics ambassador[edit]

On 27 May 2011, the Special Olympics announced that Charlene had become global ambassador for the movement, charged with promoting respect and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities to a worldwide audience.[13] Charlene has said that the Special Olympics movement is close to her heart because, as a former athlete, she values its role in "using the power of sport to change lives".

Marriage[edit]


Monegasque Princely FamilyCoat of arms of Monaco.svg

HSH The Prince
HSH The Princess


HRH The Princess of Hanover
HSH Princess Stéphanie

Charlene met Albert II, Prince of Monaco, in 2000 at the Mare Nostrum swimming meet in Monaco.[4][14] They were first seen together at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics.[2] Charlene moved in with Albert in 2006.[14] She accompanied him to the weddings of the Crown Princess of Sweden in 2010 and of the Duke of Cambridge in 2011.

On 23 June 2010, the palace announced the engagement of Charlene and Albert.[15][16][17][18] Charlene, who was raised a Protestant, converted to Roman Catholicism, even though this is not a requirement of the Constitution of Monaco.[19] The future princess was also instructed in the French language and the Monégasque dialect, and became familiar with European court protocol. The Prince presented her with an engagement ring featuring a pear-shaped three-carat diamond at the center and round diamond brilliants surrounding it. This engagement ring was reported to be created by Parisian jeweler Repossi.[20]

The wedding was originally scheduled for 8 and 9 July 2011, but was moved forward to prevent a conflict with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Durban on 5–9 July. The couple had invited members of the IOC, including president Jacques Rogge, to their wedding.[21] The couple attended the IOC meeting; hence Charlene's first foreign visit as princess was to her childhood home, South Africa.[21]

During the week before the wedding, the palace denied reports that Charlene had been getting cold feet.[2][22] French weekly L'Express reported that Charlene tried to leave Monaco on Tuesday, 28 June, after rumors surfaced that Albert had fathered a third illegitimate child.[23] The report claimed Monaco Police intercepted her at Nice Côte d'Azur Airport, confiscated her passport,[24] and that it took "intense convincing" by Albert and palace officials for her to stay.[25] The palace called the stories "ugly rumors" born out of jealousy.[23]

The couple were married in a civil ceremony on 1 July 2011 at the Throne Room in the Prince's Palace.[2] The Nuptial Mass on 2 July, was a lavish affair.[2] Only days after the beginning of the couple's honeymoon in South Africa, several newspapers from Spain, Britain, and elsewhere reported that Charlene and Albert were not staying at the same hotel, but were in fact booked in different hotels several miles apart. These reports fueled rumors about the couple's marital crisis that was sparked off even before their wedding.[26][27][28]

Princess of Monaco[edit]

The Prince and Princess at the "Cinema Against AIDS" Gala with Karl Lagerfeld (right)

As Monaco's first lady, Charlene presides over the principality's National Day celebrations, the Monaco Grand Prix, the Rose Ball (Bal de la Rose) held to raise funds for the Princess Grace Foundation, and the annual Red Cross Ball.

Princess Charlene is known for her elegant fashion style, patronizing designers Akris and Armani. She wore an exclusive Giorgio Armani Privé wedding dress,[29] and attended the Akris show at Paris Fashion Week in October 2011.[30] Charlene went to South Africa to attend the memorial service of Nelson Mandela on 12 December 2013. Her advisor is Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein.[31]

On 30 May 2014, it was announced that Princess Charlene is pregnant. She is due to give birth by the end of the year.[1]

Titles and styles[edit]

Since her marriage, Charlene has been styled as "Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco". The previous holder was her mother-in-law, Grace Kelly, who died in 1982.[32]

Honours[edit]

See also List of honours of the Monegasque Princely Family by country

National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b News, BBC. "Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene expecting baby". BBC News Europe. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Monaco's Prince Albert weds South African Charlene Wittstock". BBC News. 1 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "Biography - Prince’s Palace of Monaco". Retrieved 5 July 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Centre de Presse de Monaco. "Biographical details for Ms. Charlene Wittstock". Princely Wedding Monaco 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  5. ^ "After William and Kate's wedding, preparations for royal wedding of Prince Albert of Monaco begin". International Business Times. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  6. ^ "Charlene Wittstock remembered at former primary school". Times LIVE. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  7. ^ "Charlenes Wurzeln Vorfahren kommen aus Zerrenthin". n-tv (in German). 19 June 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  8. ^ Wittstock (PDF), Ancestry 24 
  9. ^ "Princess Charlene of Monaco's Irish ancestry revealed". Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Charlene Wittstock’s family in limbo about moving to Monaco". ZA: Looklocal. 15 April 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  11. ^ Meaklim takes tally of gold medals to six at KZN championships[dead link]
  12. ^ a b Independent Newspapers Online (15 April 2007). "Apple of Prince Albert's eye makes a splash". Iol.co.za. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  13. ^ [1], “Madame Charlene Wittstock Becomes Global Ambassador for Special Olympics”, Friday, 27 May 2011
  14. ^ a b "Monaco's Prince Albert to marry Charlene Wittstock". Gmanews.tv. Associated Press. 23 June 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  15. ^ The wedding is set to take place in Summer 2011 according to an interview with Prince Albert II, which appeared in a French newspaper.Fit for a princess: Prince Albert and Charlene guests of honour at Grace Kelly exhibit
  16. ^ La Nueva España. "Baile de la Rosa con sabor marroquí". Lne.es. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  17. ^ By the CNN Wire Staff (23 June 2010). "Monaco's Prince Albert gets engaged". CNN. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  18. ^ "Prince Albert of Monaco engaged to Charlene Wittstock". BBC News. 23 June 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  19. ^ "Marriage Princier 2011 Website, Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  20. ^ "Crown jewels: The fabulous rings which sealed the love of Europe's royal couples". HELLO! magazine (UK). 
  21. ^ a b "Prince Albert and Charlene change wedding date". Hello!. 2 August 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  22. ^ "Monaco's three-day royal wedding kicks off". Nine News. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  23. ^ a b "Prince Albert of Monaco weds Charlene Wittstock". Associated Press. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  24. ^ "Prince Albert Reportedly Had Charlene Wittstock's Passport Confiscated: Monaco's Runaway Bride Going Nowhere Fast". International Business Times. 30 June 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  25. ^ "Monaco prince marries South African swimmer". Reuters. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  26. ^ Alberto y Charlene: luna de miel en hoteles separados. http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2011/07/12/gentes/1310498303.html
  27. ^ Los Príncipes de Mónaco pasan su luna de miel en hoteles separados. http://www.abc.es/20110712/estilo-gente/abci-charlene-alberto-monaco-luna-201107121439.html
  28. ^ Princess Charlene of Monaco 'spent honeymoon sleeping 10 MILES away from husband Albert' in different hotel. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2013453/Princess-Charlene-Monaco-spent-honeymoon-10-MILES-away-Prince-Albert.html
  29. ^ "The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor: The Prince and Princess of Monaco's Wedding: The Bridal Gown". Orderofsplendor.blogspot.com. 2 July 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  30. ^ Maysa Rawi (3 October 2011). "Paris Fashion Week 2011: Princess Charlene of Monaco braves Akris show crowds | Mail Online". Paris: Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  31. ^ High Society
  32. ^ "Biography". Prince's Palace of Monaco. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  33. ^ Sovereign Ordonnance n° 4038 of 17 november 2012
  34. ^ "Photo of Charlene receiving the Order". 18 November 2012. 
  35. ^ Nice Matin, 18 octobre 2012 "The Princely has arrived in Poland", mention of receiving the order of Merit without citing the grade
  36. ^ Quirinale website
  37. ^ "Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Italy". Retrieved 29 July 2014. 

External links[edit]

Monegasque royalty
Vacant
Title last held by
Grace Kelly
Princess consort of Monaco
2011 – present
Incumbent