How did Princess Charlene’s illness become an international mystery?

September 3rd Princess Charlene of Monaco collapsed and was taken to a hospital near Durban in South Africa. Although she was soon released, the incident was a clear sign that the illness that kept her away from her adoptive home and her family could be more serious than early reports showed.

This week, an anonymous source informed Page six how shocking her experience has been. “She has not been able to eat solid food for over six months because of all the surgeries she has since undergone,” the source said. “She has only been able to ingest fluid through a straw, so she lost almost half of her body weight.”

“She is exhausted from six months of surgery and an inability to eat properly as a result,” the source said. “And she desperately missed her children and her husband while stuck in South Africa because she could not travel home.”

When Prince Albert talked to the newspaper Monaco morning about his wife’s admission to a treatment center earlier this month, he left the details of her illness vague, citing “fatigue” and a need for “rest and monitoring” as contributing factors. On November 19, he clarified to People that “she was clearly exhausted, physically and emotionally,” and that her illness had nothing to do with cancer or COVID-19.

Page six‘s source also complained about the way the palace has handled the situation. “It is unfair that she is portrayed as having some form of mental or emotional problem,” a source said. “We do not know why the palace downplays that she almost died in South Africa.” When reached by Vanity Fair, Monaco’s Palais Princier declined to comment further on Charlene’s health.

Despite a rash of recent coverage, the timeline for Charlene’s illness is still difficult to decipher. She was photographed in Monaco on January 27th. She was then seen at the funeral of Goodwill Zwelithini, King of the Zulu people, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa on March 18. Although she continued to post photos of her family on her Instagram account in the ensuing weeks, it is unclear whether she remained in the country or returned to Monaco. On May 18, she posted a picture of an event she attended for her work to preserve the rhino.

The palace did not comment on her illness and extended her stay in South Africa until May, when she skipped a planned excursion at a Monaco Grand Prix event. “During a trip to the African continent as part of a nature conservation mission, Princess Charlene contracted an ENT infection that did not allow her to travel,” they said in their original statement, adding that she sent her “best wishes” to Automobile Monaco Club.

For the French press, Charlene’s absence fits into a tale of a marriage that is forever on the rocks. Part of it has to do with timing. In 2020, a Brazilian woman living in Italy claimed that Albert is the father of her 16-year-old daughter, which has led to an ongoing legal battle. Albert has two older children, 29 years old Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and 18-year-old Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste, who was born out of wedlock but in a July report for Paris Match, journalist Stephane Bern wrote that they in Charlene’s entourage wondered that she was tired of the prince’s alleged infidelity.

Bern also offered an explanation for why Charlene’s absence had led to so much theorizing. He cited an apartment in January 2020 where a palace statement about illness was used to explain her unexpected absence. “The palace has so many times had to invoke the image of a suffering princess that the Monegasques today have a hard time believing,” he wrote.

Yet it is understandable that the limited revelations of Charlene, Albert and the palace have to do with her position in the eyes of the citizens and high society of Monaco. The small principality, which occupies about half the size of Manhattan’s Central Park, is closely and heavily monitored by police and closed television, and when Charlene moved there to pursue her relationship, she felt on the run. In 2010, she told Tatler that she struggled when she first retired from professional swimming in 2007, and had a hard time feeling accepted in her new home.

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