My old friend, the princess

By admin
16 June 2011

Jo-Ann Strauss was over the moon when she heard she was heading for the Prince’s Palace of Monaco.

Not only had she scooped an interview with the country’s future princess but she would have a chance to catch up with Charlene Wittstock, whom she has known for six years.

They chatted in the Salon des Glaces – a beautiful room in the Pink Palace containing a large portrait of Albert’s mother, the late Princess Grace.

“It was really a wow moment!” Jo-Ann says. After their wedding ceremony on 1 July Albert and Charlene will step out onto the balcony of this room to greet their subjects.

Jo-Ann says Charlene hasn’t changed since they met years ago. “When she saw me she immediately came over and gave me a warm South African hug.”

The former Olympic swimmer also told Jo-Ann how smitten she is with Albert (53) and she can’t wait to become a mom. But she won’t forget South Africa and its people, she told Jo-Ann. “She said she’ll miss South Africa’s open spaces and scenery most.”

The visit to the Prince’s Palace of Monaco came about when Jo-Ann was on assignment in the principality in February and sent a request to the palace to interview Charlene.

Two months later she received an e-mail confirming the arrangement.

Everyone at the palace was most welcoming.

Charlene (33) has turned out to be a true princess, Jo-Ann says. “She’s very graceful and elegant.

“The rest of the royal family and the people of Monaco adore her. This was very obvious at the various events at the Grand Prix. Everyone wanted to chat to her.”

The people of Monaco are clearly delighted with the royal romance. Albert and Charlene’s wedding will be held nearly 55 years after Albert’s father, Prince Rainier III, and Hollywood actress Grace Kelly’s glitzy wedding in 1956.

“Charlene knows the eyes of the world are on her but she hasn’t changed,” Jo-Ann says. “People sometimes say she’s reserved but that’s because of her duties as a princess.”

Jo-Ann says she can understand why people are so mad about Charlene and why they compare her to the late Princess Grace. “But I think Charlene will be a princess in her own right.”

Read the full article in YOU, 23 June 2011.

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