SHE'S TOUGH! SHE'LL GET THROUGH THIS
YOU South Africa|9 December 2021
Princess Charlene’s family rally behind her as speculation about her health and marriage refuse to die down
NICI DE WET
HE COACHED his daughter for years, shouting encouragement to her as she swam up and down the school swimming pool in Benoni and later achieved Olympic glory.

Mike Wittstock believed his little girl had what it took to make it then – and he has that same faith in her now.

“My daughter used to swim 20km a day,” the 75-year-old tells YOU from the family home on the Gauteng East Rand. “Based on the way she used to train, I know she’s tough and will get through this and come out much stronger.”

Mike and his wife, Lynette (74), we're worried about their only daughter, Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco, yet were cautious about visiting during her recent stay in SA.

There were Covid-19 travel restrictions, for one thing. But they wanted to protect Charlene, Mike says.

“[There are] our ages – we have to be very careful,” he says. “I also didn’t want to possibly infect her because she’d been through so many medical procedures and was vulnerable.”

They communicated all the time, however. “We spoke regularly on the phone and I speak with the twins,” Mike adds. “We have a great relationship.”

Charlene’s family are rallying around her – because there’s little doubt it’s going to be an uphill battle for her.

There were hopes the princess would get back to her life when she left South Africa after spending six months in the country for treatment for a serious ear, nose and throat infection.

And for a brief moment, things seemed on track.

Pictures of a seemingly happy reunion with her husband, Prince Albert (63), and their six-year-old twins, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques, were posted outside the Pink Palace.

Charlene even had a new dog in tow – a young ridgeback called Khan to replace the beloved chihuahua, Puppy, that was run over in Monaco.

She’d returned in time for Monaco Day, a day of national festivities in the pinprick principality when the entire royal family assembles on palace balconies to watch parades and wave to the public.

Yet Charlene, thin and frail, was clearly ailing – and it wasn’t long before troubling rumours started, one of which was that she was holed up alone in a flat above a chocolate shop in Monaco.

Another clear sign, it was reported, that her marriage was in trouble.

CHANTELL Wittstock (35), Charlene’s sister-in-law and spokesperson, tells YOU this is “a total lie”.

“Charlene will not be living in the apartment – which is the family’s apartment by the way – on her own. She and Albert have properties all over and stay indifferent ones depending on where they are needed. I can definitely tell you that if she’s there it will be with Albert and their children.”

It was apparently all systems go for Monaco Day – until the palace announced she wouldn’t attend.

A statement cited “extreme fatigue” and Albert appeared on the balcony along with the twins, who held up heartbreaking messages that read, “We miss you, Mommy”.

And the rumor mill went into overdrive again. Speculation raged about the real reason for her absence: she had a chronic illness, she was having a nervous breakdown, she was desperately unhappy, her marriage was crumbling.

Prince Albert stepped into the fray, opening up about his wife’s condition in a bid to quell the gossip.

It had become clear “within hours” of her return that she had far from recovered from her illness, he told People magazine.

“She hadn’t slept well in a number of days and wasn’t eating at all well,” he said. “She has lost a lot of weight.”

Albert revealed he’d held an “intervention-type meeting with her brothers” to plot the way forward.

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