At the end of every trip to South Africa she stuffs her bags with Ouma rusks, Jungle Oats and Mrs Ball’s chutney. And of course rooibos tea because her fiancé, Prince Albert of Monaco, loves it.
Charlene Wittstock (33) was recently in South Africa to swim the Midmar Mile in KwaZulu-Natal for the first time to raise funds for the charity Special Olympics South Africa.
“I’ve been here a week and in all this time only one guy on the beach recognised me. And he said, ‘Look, there’s Charlene the swimmer’,” the South African blonde who’ll marry Prince Albert II in the first weekend in July says.
She talks quietly and with the grace of an experienced royal but when asked if she feels like a princess she says she doesn’t know.
“How would I know what it feels like? I’m not the swimmer any more. I’m busy with so many activities – travelling with the prince, meeting various heads of state, attending summits and UN meetings. It’s changed and broadened my perspective and it’s wonderful,” she says.
She’s sophisticated, elegant and soon to be a real-life princess but in her heart she’s still a South African girl.
Prince Albert’s love of sport was one of the things that attracted her to him. “But that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she’s quick to add, smiling. She talks about their shared passion for humanitarian and environmental issues.
As a young girl Charlene wanted to become a swimming coach but now she barely has time to teach her friends’ kids in Monaco to swim.
It doesn’t bother her though – she loves the charity work that takes up a lot of her time.
Apart from taking part in the Midmar Mile to raise awareness for Special Olympics South Africa – an organisation that offers sports coaching to mentally disabled children – she organised a fundraising dinner for them in Monaco that raised R600 000. And she promises it won’t be the last time she raises money for the kids.
Read more about Charlene in YOU, 17 February 2011.