After a lengthy absence away from what she’s described as the “goldfish bowl” of her life in Monaco, Princess Charlene finally returned this month – but if the royal has her way, it won’t be for long.
Palace insiders say the 44-year-old is desperate to pack up her family and move to Switzerland and is busy convincing her husband of almost 11 years Prince Albert to get on board with her plan.
“After spending the past year receiving treatment for ongoing health issues, first in South Africa and later in an exclusive Swiss clinic, Charlene has had time to think about her life and future and, above all, the future of her children,” a close friend of the royal tells Woman’s Day.
“She’s realised that not only is life in Monaco toxic for herself, but she worries about how it might affect her seven-year-old twins [Jacques and Gabriella] who are growing up with all kinds of pressures, tugged in all directions, far from the real world.”
According to the insider, Charlene is fuming that, in her absence, her sister-in-law, Albert’s sister Princess Caroline, 65, has been stepping into the twins’ lives, playing surrogate mum by taking them on outings and – what sources say Charlene perceives to be – meddling in their education.
“Charlene is frantic to see that Caroline is taking over influence on her twins,” the source tells Woman’s Day. “Recently, Caroline took it upon herself to call the headmistress of their old school to discuss their socialisation… the twins are currently educated at home at Charlene’s request.”
The palace insider claims Caroline’s fixated on the future of Monaco, so “she’s determined to mould the twins, especially Jacques the heir apparent, to her idea of what a little prince should be.”
Even Albert, the source reveals, is more relaxed with his kids and eager to let them live a carefree childhood.
But Charlene is trying to convince her husband that will be impossible in Monaco. While she had initially wanted to stay in South Africa with the twins, raising them close to nature as she was, the Monaco constitution does not allow future heirs to live so far from their father.
Switzerland, Charlene argues, is less than an hour’s flight away and easily accessible for Albert, as well as offering a more peaceful family environment.
“She’s desperate to take her children away from this pressurised atmosphere,” says the source, who reveals Albert’s now caught between his wife and his sister.
“He has to make a decision, which is bound to upset someone,” says the insider.
But the source reveals Albert, 64, still loves Charlene and her trump card is the twins.
“If Albert sees they are suffering from the situation, he may well agree to let them go with their mother,” says the royal insider.
“At seven years old, they’re starting to understand more and ask more questions about why Mummy is sad, why is she not at home, why do people say things about her… A life in Switzerland is a workable compromise as even Albert’s own father, Prince Rainier, was educated at Le Rosey, the most expensive school in the world, in Rolle, Switzerland.”
In the meantime, a still pale and fragile-looking Charlene is back in Monaco living, for now, in her apartment above a chocolate shop near the palace.
“The next few weeks should allow Princess Charlene to further strengthen her health before gradually resuming her official duties and commitments,” the palace said in a statement.
“The royal couple ask that their private life and family environment continue to be respected in order to provide Princess Charlene with the peace and calm she still needs to fully recover.”
But friends fear that “peace and calm” will always elude the princess in Monaco.