The holidays are notably a time for reflection and giving thanks.
“I’m really proud of my wife,” Prince Albert says. “Charlene’s doing really well. As you can see for yourself, she’s been active in any number of different events. Charlene’s engaging more in public life and looking after things that she’s passionate about.”
“My wife’s been visiting different Monaco establishments like The Red Cross and visiting people in their homes,” he continues. “She’s really enjoying doing things together and with the kids, so this year is ending on a very, a very high note. We’re truly thrilled about how things are.”
“As you know, last year,” his voice suddenly deepens with emotion, “last year was a very tough year for her — and the beginning of this year. And she’s really turned it around in an incredible way.”
The “tough year” began in May 2021 when the Princess fell ill during a trip back home to South Africa. A serious ENT infection was diagnosed, requiring several surgeries. A prolonged and complicated recovery delayed her return to Monaco until November.
Upon her return to the principality, under medical advice, the princess chose to continue her recovery privately before rejoining her family in April.
Expressing thanks for the letters and cards of support received for her from all over the globe, Prince Albert says that with her return to health, Princess Charlene has reassumed a full schedule involving social and charity work as well as their private home life (including being a very hands-on mother to their 8-year old twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella. “Of course, Charlene’s resumed a lot of duties including making decisions regarding our household management,” he says.
A household that includes a private estate above Monaco as well as historic apartments in the palace where the Princess is overseeing “embellishments, remaking rooms which have to be changed.”
Noting that renovation work on many palace areas halted during the COVID-19 lockdown, the Prince says work will resume in the coming months.
Upkeep, he laughs, is a concern in a 700-year-old, 862-room palace. “We haven’t fully moved back in. There’s work which still hasn’t moved ahead in our apartments. Or my parents’ apartments, the original private apartments on the ground floor of the West Wing will hopefully be resumed by end of late February/early March.”
Foremost among Charlene’s preoccupations are the couple’s children. In an interview last week with local newspaper Monaco Matin, she described instructing the children for their future roles as a shared responsibility.
Prince Albert agrees. “It isn’t a daily or weekly routine but on an ad hoc basis. Whenever there’s an upcoming event, Charlene and I discuss it and when we both agree they should be with us, then there’s a little explanation of its significance with the children. It’s a ‘What’s-Going-On-And-Why-It’s-Important’ nature.”
“Usually on the day of that event in their rooms or on the day before we give them a little presentation of what to expect. But it’s mostly ‘on the occasion of’ so it’s not a formal thing.”
The twins he says are “doing really well. They’re incredible. They still have to concentrate a little bit on their schoolwork but what parent isn’t going to say that? They just turned 8 and like all kids at that age, they can get a little distracted.
Asked whether their distraction comes from social media, he riles up with a laugh. “Don’t you even pronounce those words.”
“No,” he continues. “They’re both very sports-oriented and at their age, they still prefer going out in the schoolyard playing with their friends than to buckle down and learn their lessons. They’re very active, still very curious about things.”
Performing is a tradition dating back in the Prince’s American-family side for several generations, and includes one Oscar-winning actress (his mother, who was Grace Kelly before becoming Princess Grace) and even before, Pulitzer-winning playwright George Kelly.
“Yesterday,” he confides, “we went with them to this little Christmas play in a small theater here. They’re doing a theater workshop this week at that same place.”
“And the kids do sports, they do Taekwondo and tennis at school.” With a nod to his wife’s Olympian past, he hastily laughs, “and swimming of course. They’ve got a full schedule. They’re great.”