Char­lene cel­e­brates new life on Na­tional Day

Princess of Monaco keeps ador­ing eye on her twins

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - TANYA WATERWORTH

PRINCESS Char­lene of Monaco lives life at a whirl­wind pace. The for­mer South African Olympic “golden girl” comes speed­ing up the drive in a golf cart at the pri­vate royal re­treat, Roc Agel.

I am there with a royal pho­tog­ra­pher and his as­sis­tant and the princess leaps out, full of en­ergy and I get a warm hug.

I am in the prin­ci­pal­ity by in­vi­ta­tion for Na­tional Monaco Day and have been granted an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Princess Char­lene.

We are vet­ted by se­cu­rity be­fore fol­low­ing her down the drive to her home, which was bought by Prince Rainier II for his wife Princess Grace (for­mer US ac­tress Grace Kelly).

It’s early in the morn­ing and mist curls through the large weath­ered trees. To the left, I spot a couple of In­dian ele­phants in a field. They were res­cued from a zoo by Princess Stephanie (Prince Al­bert’s sis­ter) and are called Nepal and Baby.

The cars sweep to a stop and we are led in­side. There’s im­me­di­ately a sense that this is a home and not a pala­tial res­i­dence.

The Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions are al­ready up and a fire crack­les in the grate of a fire­place in the lounge. An old dog fol­lows us, with an al­most re­signed air of hav­ing to es­cort yet more visi­tors.

Cof­fee is laid out and as we start the in­ter­view, Princess Char­lene fetches her twins, who are try­ing to take baby steps.

Both have huge blue eyes which fol­low mom’s ev­ery move­ment.

“This is the big­gest role in my life and I want to be with them as much as pos­si­ble. Jac­ques is very much a lit­tle boy and en­joys us­ing his hands, Gabriella is ev­ery inch a lit­tle princess.”

She is also keen to ex­change news from home – her Foun­da­tion’s Southern African op­er­a­tion based in Bal­lito is do­ing well, and the Sharks didn’t have a great sea­son. She clearly misses the hu­mour that only South Africans can share and we dis­cuss Trevor Noah’s de­but on US tele­vi­sion on The Daily Show.

She has also set up a rugby day for chil­dren, which is to be held an­nu­ally in Monaco and which is at­tended by a num­ber of coun­tries.

“This year, we had teams join­ing us from South Africa. It was great fun. We make sure ev­ery child has time on the field,” she says.

I tell her I’m stay­ing at the Port Palace ho­tel, along Rue JF Kennedy, which is be part of the grand prix cir­cuit.

It’s cer­tainly a room with a view – the mag­nif­i­cent yacht mall, Port Her­cule is be­low the palace, which sits atop the for­mi­da­ble Rock, from where the Grimaldi dy­nasty has ruled for over 700 years.

Na­tional Monaco Day or Fête du Prince (Prince’s Day) cel­e­bra­tions are tra­di­tion­ally marked with a mas­sive fire­works dis­play on the evening of Novem­ber 18, but this year, the show was can­celled in sol­i­dar­ity with the French af­ter the Paris ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

The na­tional hol­i­day started with the morn­ing ser­vice at St Ni­cholas Cathe­dral, also known as Cathe­dral of our Lady of Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion, which was at­tended by a num­ber of heads of state, dig­ni­taries and aris­toc­racy, while the world’s pa­parazzi gath­ered out­side.

In­ter­est­ing to note, the pa­parazzi were all men in black, with the ex­cep­tion of one other fe­male jour­nal­ist.

Pic­tures were shot at high speed when the royal fam­ily emerged from the church af­ter the ser­vice.

When the ac­tion moved to the palace, Prince Al­bert and Princess Char­lene ap­peared on the bal­cony with Prince Jac­ques and Princess Gabriella, cre­at­ing a fris­son of ex­cite­ment through both the cam­era crews and the Mone­gasque cit­i­zens and tourists gath­ered be­low.

It is only the sec­ond time the royal ba­bies have ap­peared in pub­lic and a quick sur­vey in­di­cated that lo­cal res­i­dents are de­lighted with the new heirs to the Grimaldi throne.

The princess con­firms her stun­ning out­fit in plum is by Swiss de­signer Akris.

We dis­cuss the opera Tosca, to which I had been for­tu­nate enough to be in­vited the evening be­fore. That’s where the power play­ers min­gle and the di­a­monds definitely im­press. The at­mos­phere had been heady with Chris­tian Dior and Yves St Lau­rent and not a cell­phone in sight the en­tire evening.

Opera stars Martina Ser­afin ( so­prano) and Mar­cello Al­varez (tenor) were mag­nif­i­cent, por­tray­ing that renowned sense of pas­sion for which Ital­ian opera is so fa­mous. It’s easy to see that the princess has a hec­tic sched­ule from early morn­ing to late at night.

It’s time to wrap up the in­ter­view. Prince Al­bert comes in, he’s re­laxed and easy to talk to. For a few mo­ments we dis­cuss the Rugby World Cup – the dif­fer­ence in the Spring­boks game against Ja­pan to the two-point loss against the All Blacks.

The prince is both a sports­man and ad­ven­turer, as well as be­ing a com­mit­ted en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist. He en­joys rugby and is pas­sion­ate about foot­ball.

We fin­ish our cof­fee and the princess quickly checks through her speech for a con­fer­ence at the Vat­i­can that she’s leav­ing for in the af­ter­noon, it is clear she has a well laid out plan – and it is work­ing nicely.

‘This is the big­gest role


WA­TER SPIRIT: Princess Char­lene of Monaco ar­rives at the Vat­i­can last week­end, where she ad­dressed a con­fer­ence on saving chil­dren's lives through ed­u­ca­tion on wa­ter safety.

SE­CU­RITY: The 112 cara­binieri are the of­fi­cial guards for the royal fam­ily.

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