For most people, a honeymoon is a magical moment, a chance for the newlyweds to spend every moment in each other’s company.
Not for Monaco’s Prince Albert and his wife, Princess Charlene, though, who chose to celebrate their 2011 nuptials by sleeping ten miles apart in separate hotels.
Flying to Durban, South Africa, the couple’s vacation opened auspiciously and they met with Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic.
However, as they arrived at the hearing together, a local newspaper reported that they left the president ‘in two separate vehicles’.
The mystery deepened when it turned out that Prince Albert was staying at the Hilton Hotel in Durban, but Charlene was sleeping at the Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga, more than ten miles from the coast.
Prince Albert of Monaco and his Princess Charlene at their 2011 wedding. But they began their honeymoon in South Africa by sleeping in separate hotels.
Prince Albert stayed at the Hilton hotel in Durban, while Charlene spent the night at the Oyster Box hotel in Umhlanga, more than ten miles up the coast from her new husband.
Pictured: Prince Albert gets emotional as Charlene delivers a speech to celebrate her decade on the throne in 2015
The Prince already had two children before marrying Charlene: Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, 31, (left) whose mother is American real estate agent Tamara Rotolo, and her eldest son, Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste, 19, born to the Former Air France presenter Nicole Coste. (pictured right)
Despite speculation, the reason was later claimed to be quite simple: that the prince had stayed in Durban because he had an early meeting the next morning and was worried about getting stuck in traffic if traveling from out of town.
The new princess’s father, retired photocopier salesman Mike Wittstock, explained at the time: “This is because Albert attended the International Olympic Committee conference at the Hilton.
“The conference started at 7am and Albert didn’t want to get up unnecessarily early and sit in traffic.”
A Monaco Palace source later confirmed that “for practical reasons, it was better” for the prince to stay at the Hilton.
However, neither the source nor Wittstock explained why Charlene just didn’t stay at the Hilton with him.
This was not, in fact, their first attempt at a honeymoon by the prince and princess.
Their first attempt, a few weeks after their July wedding, was cut short after Prince Albert was embroiled in a scandal over whether he had fathered another child out of wedlock.
On that occasion, he flew back from South Africa to take a paternity test to put the claims aside.
The Prince already had two children before his marriage to Charlene.
His eldest daughter, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, 31, conceived with American real estate agent Tamara Rotolo, and his eldest son, Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste, 19, whose mother was former Air France flight attendant Nicole Coste.
This complicated background can hardly have helped the relationship between Albert and Charlene, which seemed to have been troubled even before the wedding.
There were reports that Charlene had already attempted to escape Monaco on no less than three separate occasions, one of them just two days before her marriage.
Zimbabwean-born Charlene is said to have tried to leave for South Africa, where she was living prior to the engagement, after learning that Prince Albert had a beloved third child.
Monaco officials are said to have convinced her to return to the country by brokering a deal between the Prince and his reticent finances.
The supposed ‘pact’ said that she would be free to leave of her own free will once she had provided her with a rightful heir.
None of their children before the marriage could be heir to the throne because they were born out of wedlock.
Two years later, the Princess broke her silence on the rumours, denying that she had wanted to leave and calling the speculation “outright lies”.
Charlene and Albert had twins in 2014: Princess Gabriella and Jacques, the Crown Prince of Monaco, here on the palace balcony in 2023. They are now eight years old.
Princess Charlene wipes away tears after exchanging vows with Prince Albert in 2011
The Prince and Princess defied speculation and celebrated their 12-year anniversary in July. Here, Albert kisses his Charlene after meeting South African President Jacob Zuma at the start of their honeymoon in 2011. They then spent the night in separate hotels ten miles apart.
Photos from their wedding day showed Charlene crying, sparking rumors once again that it had to do with Albert’s infidelity, however years later she said it was because the day had been “overwhelming”.
She told The Times in an interview: “There were all mixed emotions because of the rumors and obviously the tension built up and I burst into tears (immediately after the ceremony).
“And then I started crying some more because I was thinking ‘Oh no, now everyone has seen me cry.'”
However, despite the rocky start, the Prince and Princess stayed together and celebrated their 12th anniversary last July.
They gave birth to twins, Princess Gabriella and Jacques, the Crown Prince of Monaco, who are now eight years old.
However, the rumors persisted and in 2020, the Prince was hit with another paternity lawsuit.
Albert was due to fight the court case in Milan, Italy, in February 2021, after a Brazilian woman said she had a daughter as a result of a relationship with Albert in 2005.
But the Prince ‘requested sovereign immunity’, causing the case to be delayed, and his lawyers dismissed the claim as nothing more than a ‘hoax’.
Shortly after, in May 2021, the Princess returned to South Africa, where she stayed for most of the year, citing health problems.
Prince, 65, told People magazine: ‘She didn’t leave Monaco angry! She didn’t leave because she was mad at me or someone else… She didn’t go into exile.
“It was absolutely just a medical problem that had to be treated.”
He added that his illness had “affected both of them and had not been addressed before because he was ‘focusing on taking care of the children.'”
The princess had contracted an infection after a sinus lift (an operation that often precedes a dental implant) and a bone graft procedure she had undergone.
When asked about Monaco Matin magazine’s continuing speculation, the princess said: “You want to talk about divorce rumors or my new home in Switzerland… I still find it regrettable that certain media spread such rumors about my life, my relationship”.
Monaco’s royal family poses for a photograph at a public event in Monte Carlo in 2022. The Prince had faced another paternity suit the previous year. Charlene then left the principality for South Africa and stayed there for months.
“Like all, we are human beings and like all human beings we have emotions, weaknesses, only our family is exposed to the media and the slightest weakness is transmitted.”
He added that the couple had discussed these ‘malicious articles’.
Reflecting on their first meeting, Charlene, a former Olympic swimmer, told Tatler earlier this year: “I was in Monte Carlo for a swimming meet when I met the prince,
‘I was 22 years old and I was focused. He wasn’t in the emotional place for a relationship.
“But the moment I met Albert, I felt a deep sense of destiny. He has been quoted as saying that he felt weak in the knees. That’s a bit of a hackneyed way of putting it, but it’s true: I knew he was the one.