Monaco’s Princess Charlene reunited with her husband Prince Albert and their two children on November 8, 2021 after months apart while the princess battled illness in South Africa.
The 44-year-old had been stranded in her homeland fighting off complications from a severe ear, nose and throat infection for months and said on Instagram that she was “happy” to be home.
After months of treatment, royal watchers hoped her return to Monaco would mark the start of her return to public life and royal duties.
But now, three months after Charlene touched down in the principality, the princess seems to have disappeared.
“She was clearly exhausted, physically and emotionally. She was overwhelmed and couldn’t face official duties, life in general or even family life,” Albert told People in November.
At the same time he announced that his wife would be seeking treatment at an unspecified facility outside of Monaco, a decision he said they made as a couple and with the support of Charlene’s family.
He called the details of Charlene’s condition “private matters” and assured the press that his wife “wanted this” treatment, though it took her away from him and their children.
At the time, Albert and the Monegasque palace said the princess’ treatment would take several weeks, with royal watchers hoping to see Charlene return to public life in January 2022.
But the new year came and went with no news, until the palace announced that Charlene’s recovery – though “encouraging” – was far from over.
“As soon as her health will allow, it will be with joy that the Princess once again share moments of conviviality with them,” the palace said in a statement at the end of January.
“During this period, the Royal Couple requests that their private life and that of their children continue to be respected.”
WATCH: Prince Albert and Princess Charlene’s twins as babies. Story continues after video.
Her last Instagram post was from her birthday on January 25, but the last time she shared a current picture on social media was on November 9.
Charlene’s continued absence from public life has left royal watchers worried and only added fuel to the fire of countless rumours regarding her extended time away from her family.
On social media people have claimed Charlene was the victim of plastic surgery gone wrong, is facing a secret battle with cancer, or even had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis that was kept under wraps by the royals. Prince Albert denied them all.
But the rumour that has gained the most traction, especially since Charlene’s return to Monaco, is that marital turmoil is behind her absence and all the secrecy around it.
The Monegasque royal couple have been plagued with allegations of relationship dramas since before they wed, when it was claimed that Charlene attempted to get out of the wedding – and the country – on more than one occasion.
These rumours were firmly denied by the royal palace at the time, but sceptics were unconvinced when Charlene was photographed fighting back tears multiple times on her wedding day in 2011.
Over the next decade there were often rumours that Albert had fathered more love children prior to his marriage, after acknowledging two children he conceived with other women before his relationship with Charlene.
No concrete evidence has ever been given to support these claims and the Monegasque palace has denied all allegations of any other illegitimate children.
Royal watchers also commented on Charlene’s supposed unhappiness in her royal role, noting the fact that she rarely smiled in photos, though the princess has never suggested she is unhappy with her marriage.
Despite constantly refuting the rumours about their marriage, Albert and Charlene faced renewed speculation when the princess travelled to South Africa last year and didn’t come back.
WATCH: Princess Charlene on becoming a royal. Story continues after video.
For months she was “grounded” until she was deemed well enough to fly home to Monaco, though Albert was able to visit once with their children once during that time.
Unfortunately the couple were separated for their tenth wedding anniversary, sparking claims that Charlene was “fleeing” her marriage and had no plans to return to Monaco, which Albert and the palace repeatedly denied.
Prince Albert has thoroughly dismissed the rumours tying Charlene’s absence to their marriage, telling People last year: “This has nothing to do with our relationship. I want to make that very clear.
“These are not problems within our relationship; not with the relationship between a husband and wife. It’s of a different nature.”
However, with Charlene still out of action and out of the public eye, it seems that the rumours will continue – and Albert will be forced to continue to deny them while his wife recovers.