Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Royal Profile: HSH Princess Charlene Lynette of Monaco

Charlene Lynette Wittstock-Grimaldi (aka Princess Charlene Lynette of Monaco) was born in January of 1978, in in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Africa. Born a commoner to two hard working parents-her father Mike Wittstock is a salesman, her mother Lynette was a former competitive diver and swimming coach. It wasn’t long before Charlene was joined by younger brothers-Gareth in 1980 and Sean in 1983. It was in 1989 that Mike and Lynette made the big move with their family from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to Benoni, South Africa. Charlene was 11 years, Gareth 9 years and Sean was only 6 years.

Having a mother who was a former competitive diver and swimming coach turned out to be useful for Charlene, she developed a passion for swimming at a very early age. When she was six years, she told her mother that she would get into the Olympics someday. And sure enough, she did. In 1996, at 18, she won the South African Championship. In 2000, her team came in fifth at the Sydney Olympic Games. That same year, she won the gold medal for the 200m backstroke event at the “Marenostrum” international swimming meeting in Monaco. This is when she met Prince Albert for the first time; he was presiding over the international competition. In 2002, she won three gold medals at the swimming World Cup (50m and 100m crawl, 4x100m relay) and the silver medal during the Manchester Commonwealth Games (4x100m medley relay).

She attended local public schools in Benoni, first Tom Newby School and then Benoni High School. Being passionate about swimming, she left school to peruse a career and reach her Olympic goals.

She began dating Monaco’s sovereign Prince in late 2005 or early 2006, after reuniting with him at a mutual friend’s New Year’s Eve party in South Africa. She moved to Monaco in 2007, obtaining a small apartment by herself to prepare for her role as potentially the future Princess of Monaco and continue training for the Beijing Olympics (of which, later she ceased to qualify for and stopped competing all together). It was in 2008 when the rumors began-alleging that Prince Albert had popped the question and they were getting married in September. Well, September 2008 came and went, and no wedding bells rang in Monaco. Royal watchers around the world were beginning to wonder if Monaco’s “play-boy” Prince would ever settle down and produce a legitimate heir to the throne. Finally, on June 23, 2010, after the pair attended the Swedish Royal wedding, Monaco’s Palace announced that Prince Albert would marry Miss Charlene Lynette Wittstock. It was set to be the “wedding of the year”, until William decided to ask his long-time girlfriend Catherine Middleton for her hand in marriage.

Since 2007, Charlene has accompanied Prince Albert on numerous trips around the world for various occasions. In 2009, she was asked to be Ladies Lunch Monte Carlo’s honorary President by Prince Albert’s cousin Christian’s wife Cecile. In 2010, she was associated with both the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Born Free Foundation. She is a regular at Princess Stephanie’s events for FIGHT AIDS MONACO and at AMfarevents. In 2010, she took up the cause of Special Olympics of South Africa and Monaco and taking up this cause earned her title of Global Ambassador to the Special Olympics in 2011.

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