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It’s not exactly a fairy tale.
Thursday was the 10th anniversary of the marriage of Princess Charlene and Prince Albert, the sovereign ruler of Monaco. But this royal couple was separated by thousands of miles, as Charlene is holed up in her native South Africa. The palace says she’s suffering from a serious ear, nose and throat infection and needing multiple “procedures” that will keep her there “indefinitely.”
But some in Monaco — a gossipy, postage-stamp principality smaller than Central Park — wonder if history is repeating itself.
A decade ago, Princess Charlene reportedly tried to bolt Monaco right before her splashy, $75 million two-day wedding, possibly because of her prince fathering yet another illegitimate child.
Now the runaway bride seems to have become the runaway wife.
She hasn’t been seen in Monaco — which lies just west of the Italian border and east of Nice — since January, leaving her husband and their 6-year-old twins, Gabriella and Jacques, to carry on at public events like the Monaco Grand Prix without her.
Rumors are flying that it’s because of new claims that Albert fathered an illegitimate child — his third. Last December, word got out that he had been hit with a new paternity suit, from a Brazilian woman who said he fathered her 15-year-old daughter while Albert and Charlene were dating.
Soon after, Princess Charlene turned up in public with a shocking new punk buzzcut and heavy black eyeliner.
“She cut her hair the day she found out,” a longtime resident of Monaco who is close to the palace told The Post. “It was a radical move designed to show him and all of us how bad she felt and what terrible news this was — at least to her.”
Not that the subjects of Monaco have much sympathy.
Charlene, 43, is viewed by some residents as a dull, vapid version of the vibrant, cultured Princess Grace, Albert’s mother, who won an Oscar as Grace Kelly before marrying Prince Rainier in 1956. Charlene rarely smiles in public and has been dubbed the “sad princess.” People have even criticized her name, saying she should be called “Charlotte” rather than the downscale “Charlene,” and accusing her of having had too much plastic surgery.
“Have you tried to talk to her?” another longtime Monaco resident said to The Post. “She can’t move anything at all, can’t smile, can’t show any expression, cold as ice all the way around. Compared to Kate [Middleton] she’s not even human.”
Charlene Wittstock was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), in 1978 to Michael Wittstock, a photocopier salesman, and his wife Lynette, a former competitive diver and coach. The family moved to South Africa in 1989. A longtime competitive swimmer, Charlene was on a South African women’s medley team that came in fifth at the 2000 Summer Olympics.
That same year, she met Prince Albert, now 63, but the two didn’t go public as a couple until six years later — during a tumultuous period in Albert’s life.
In 2005, his father, Prince Rainier, died and Albert was enthroned as the new ruler of Monaco. But less than a week before, Albert had been forced to admit that he had fathered an illegitimate son, Alexandre, with Nicole Coste, a flight attendant from Tongo whom he had met on an Air France jet.
While this was going on, Tamara Rotolo — a former waitress from California who met the prince on a vacation to the Riviera — was fighting to prove that Albert was the father of her daughter, Jazmin Grace, born in 1992. Following a DNA test, Albert recognized Jazmin as his daughter in 2006.
Albert’s (known) kids
GABRIELLA & JACQUES: Albert and Charlene have 6-year-old twins, who bear the titles princess and prince. They are reportedly in Monaco while Charlene is in South Africa.
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JAZMIN GRIMALDI: The 29-year-old actress is the illegitimate child of Albert and waitress Tamara Rotolo. The prince acknowledged his paternity in 2006 and has grown closer to Jazmin.
Getty Images for Janie’s Fund
ALEXANDRE GRIMALDI-COSTE: Albert admitted in 2005 that he had fathered a son, now 17, with flight attendant Nicole Coste. Neither Alexandre nor Jazmin are in line for the throne.
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