Princess Charlene flies back to her gilded coop, but no kiss from her prince
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Princess Charlene finally left for Monaco on Sunday after 10 months in South Africa. Her farewell was warm and fond, even Zulu King Misuzulu Zwelithini turned up to bid adieu to the royal that the world seemed convinced had flown the gilded Grimaldi coop.
Her return to the French Riviera by private jet was anything but the warm Durban friendliness she had left behind. While a masked Charlene tried doubly hard to convince the flashing cameras that they were memorialising a tender family reunion, her husband, Prince Albert of Monaco, had clearly missed the memo.
The infamous Lothario perhaps had other pressing matters on his mind – what with yet another love-child court battle looming large – appeared cold and aloof, his face fixed in the kind of soulless smile one would expect at an official reception.
With Charlene, 43, leaning in and holding to him tightly, Albert, 63, grimaced and stiffened with each flash.
Not even the presence of their charming twins, Gabriella and Jacques – or a boisterous dog whose antics were barking mad – could thaw his icy guise.
Body language expert Judi James told the Daily Mail Charlene was “clinging” to her husband.
“Charlene’s announcement rituals here suggest she wants to send out a very emphatic message that she is now back with her family and that her love for her husband is stronger than ever.
“Just as in South Africa when Prince Albert came to visit, Charlene performs what look rather like over-kill signals to make her message clear to the rest of the world, putting in much more effort than her husband to look excitedly re-united and joyous.”
Calling Charlene “frail”, James said there was a clear imbalance in the body language mood of the posing with her husband.
“While she throws herself over her husband to cling to him he looks keen to adopt a rather less uninhibited pose, standing straight on to the cameras with his head upright and with a partly-formed smile on his face.
“His pose appears to register no response to his wife’s efforts here, with a lack of mirroring or head tilting to make the look more congruent and the emotions more shared.”
This past year has been gruelling for the Monégasque royal. Arriving back in the principality after spending 10 months in South Africa, she’s probably had much to think about while being alone with her thoughts.
Her absence has been a widely debated issue, with speculation of an impending divorce not too far behind.
Royal insiders and sources close to the palace did not buy the princess’s narrative that a prolonged struggle with an ear and sinus infection kept her in SA.
While in South Africa, Charlene had also been hard at work on her philanthropic endeavours, including her NGO and conversation work.
There were some worrying signs., though. Charlene kept her fans up to date via Instagram, and on occasion she’d post pictures of herself FaceTiming her children back home.
One post, in particular, drew some interest after she had been rushed to hospital. In October, she was pictured alongside the then new Zulu king.
Looking gaunt and sickly, followers of Charlene took to the comments section of the post and expressed concern for her health.
Upon leaving SA, the princess shared a video message via her foundation on Twitter. Making no reference to Albert, she said: “It has been, obviously, a very challenging time to be here, but at the same time, it has been wonderful being back in South Africa.
“I’d like to thank the doctors in South Africa who have done a fantastic job of helping me, and I’m so looking forward to getting back to my children. Thank you, South Africa, and thank you everyone, and God bless you.”
A fairytale ending for Charlene this was not. She had endured months of pain, both physical and emotional.
Rather than being Prince Charming, Albert cast a long, gloomy shadow on the princess from Benoni as she gingerly made her way back to the tallest tower in the Palace Grimaldi, where once again she will fall in line and dutifully take up her role as châtelain.
This article first appeared in Saturday Insider, November 13, 2021