Charlene, Princess of Monaco

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Charlene, Princess of Monaco-6.jpg
Charlene at the wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden in June 2013
Princess consort of Monaco
Tenure 1 July 2011 – present
Born (1978-01-25) 25 January 1978 (age 39)
Bulawayo, Rhodesia
(today Zimbabwe)
Spouse Albert II, Prince of Monaco (m. 2011)
Issue Princess Gabriella, Countess of Carladès
Jacques, Hereditary Prince of Monaco
Full name
Charlene Lynette Wittstock[fn 1]
Father Michael Kenneth Wittstock
Mother Lynette Humberstone
Religion Roman Catholic
previously Protestantism
Occupation Swimmer
House of Grimaldi

Monarchy of MonacoGreat coat of arms of the house of Grimaldi.svg

HSH The Prince
HSH The Princess

HRH The Princess of Hanover
HSH The Countess of Polignac

Charlene, Princess of Monaco[1] (French: Charlène;[fn 2] born Charlene Lynette Wittstock, 25 January 1978), is a former Olympic swimmer for South Africa and wife of Prince Albert II.

Princess Charlene was born in Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe), the daughter of Michael and Lynette Wittstock, and the family relocated to South Africa in 1989. Princess Charlene represented South Africa at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, with her team finishing fifth in the 4 × 100 metre medley relay. Princess Charlene retired from competitive swimming in 2007.

Princess Charlene met Prince Albert at the Mare Nostrum swimming competition in Monte Carlo, Monaco in 2000.[1] They were first seen together in 2006,[citation needed] and Princess Charlene has accompanied Prince Albert on many of his official duties since then. They announced their engagement in June 2010, and were married on 1 July 2011. Princess Charlene's pregnancy was announced on 30 May 2014. On 10 December 2014, The Princess of Monaco gave birth to Princess Gabriella and Hereditary Prince Jacques.

Early life and family history[edit]

Charlene of Monaco exercising her Privilège du blanc in meeting Pope Francis for an official state visit at the Vatican. She was first granted the privilege under Pope Benedict XVI in 2013.

Princess Charlene was born on 25 January 1978 in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (renamed Zimbabwe in 1980),[2] the daughter of Michael Kenneth Wittstock (born 1946),[3] a sales manager, and Lynette Wittstock (née Humberstone, born 1957), a former competitive diver and swimming coach.[4][5] Two brothers were born over the next five years: Gareth (born 1980), a computer technician, and Sean (born 1983), a sales representative.[4] The family relocated to South Africa in 1989, when Charlene was 11 years old.[2] She 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 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 handyworkers 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 mostly 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
Representing  South Africa
Commonwealth Games
Silver medal – second place 2002 Manchester 4 x 100 m medley
All-Africa Games
Gold medal – first place 1999 Johannesburg 100 m freestyle
Gold medal – first place 1999 Johannesburg 100 m backstroke
Gold medal – first place 1999 Johannesburg 4 x 100 m medley
Silver medal – second place 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 represented South Africa at the 1998 and 2002 Commonwealth Games, winning a silver medal in the 4 × 100 m medley relay in the latter competition. She also was a member of the South African women's 4×100 m medley team at the 2000 Summer Olympics, which finished fifth. Charlene 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".


Monogram of Princess Charlene

Charlene met Albert II, Prince of Monaco, in 2000 at the Mare Nostrum swimming meet in Monaco.[4][14] They were first seen together in 2001.[citation needed] They went public 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 presided over by Archbishop Bernard Barsi.[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]

Pregnancy and motherhood[edit]

On 30 May 2014, it was announced that Princess Charlene was pregnant. After much speculation it was confirmed on 9 October 2014, that the couple was expecting twins by the end of the year.[29][30] On 10 December 2014, her twins were born at The Princess Grace Hospital Centre.[31] Daughter Gabriella Thérèse Marie was born first followed by her brother Jacques Honoré Rainier. Due to male-preference cognatic primogeniture, Jacques is first in line to the throne and has been styled His Serene Highness The Hereditary Prince of Monaco as well as Marquis of Baux. Gabriella has been styled Her Serene Highness The Countess of Carladès.[32]

Princess of Monaco[edit]

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

Princess Charlene is known for her elegant fashion style, patronising designers Akris and Armani. She wore an exclusive Giorgio Armani Privé wedding dress,[33] and attended the Akris show at Paris Fashion Week in October 2011.[34]

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.[35]

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.[36]


National Honours
Foreign honours


  1. ^ Whenever she is referred to by surname and not her title, Wittstock is the surname used.
  2. ^ Since her marriage, her name has been Gallicised by adding a grave accent to her name in French documents.


  1. ^ a b Palais Princier de Monaco. "Prince's Palace of Monaco". Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Monaco's Prince Albert weds South African Charlene Wittstock". BBC News. 1 July 2011. 
  3. ^ Palais Princier de Monaco. "Palais Princier de Monaco". Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c "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. Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  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 "Apple of Prince Albert's eye makes a splash". 15 April 2007. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "Monaco's Prince Albert to marry Charlene Wittstock". Associated Press. 23 June 2010. Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  15. ^ "Fit for a princess: Prince Albert and Charlene guests of honour at Grace Kelly exhibit". 2010-04-16. Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  16. ^ "Baile de la Rosa con sabor marroquí". Retrieved 2 July 2011. 
  17. ^ "Monaco's Prince Albert gets engaged". CNN. 23 June 2010. 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 | Gentes!". 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  27. ^ "Los Príncipes de Mónaco pasan su luna de miel en hoteles separados". Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  28. ^ Allen, Peter (2011-07-13). "Princess Charlene of Monaco 'spent honeymoon 10 MILES away from Prince Albert' | Daily Mail Online". Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  29. ^ "Monaco confirms: Princess Charlene is pregnant with twins". 9 October 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  30. ^ "Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene expecting baby". BBC News Europe. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  31. ^ "La princesse Charlène est sur le point d'accoucher à Monaco". Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  32. ^ Eun Kyung Kim (2014-12-10). "Monaco's Princess Charlene, Prince Albert, welcome twins!". Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  33. ^ "The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor: The Prince and Princess of Monaco's Wedding: The Bridal Gown". 2 July 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  34. ^ Maysa Rawi (3 October 2011). "Paris Fashion Week 2011: Princess Charlene of Monaco braves Akris show crowds | Mail Online". Paris: Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  35. ^ "Princess Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein Visits Russia | highsocietytimes". Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  36. ^ "Biography". Prince's Palace of Monaco. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  37. ^ Legimonaco
  38. ^ "Photographic image" (JPG). Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  39. ^ "Princess Charlene Wore Wrap Dress during Monaco's National Day Celebrations" (JPG). Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  40. ^ "Photographic image of Princess Caroline of Monaco and family" (JPG). Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  41. ^ "Le couple princier est arrivé en Pologne | Actualités". Nice-Matin. 18 October 2012. Archived from the original on 8 July 2015. Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  42. ^ "Internetowy System Aktów Prawnych". Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  43. ^ "Onorificenze - Dettaglio del conferimento". 20 February 2014. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-29. 
  44. ^ "Prince's Palace of Monaco". Retrieved 2016-04-29. 

External links[edit]

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