See the photos: Princess Charlene back in Monaco with Prince Albert and the kids

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After a long stay in SA brought on by illness, Princess Charlene has finally returned to Monaco. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
After a long stay in SA brought on by illness, Princess Charlene has finally returned to Monaco. (PHOTO: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Finally! After a seven-month forced stay in South Africa, Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene has finally reunited with her family in Monaco.

Images released by the palace show the former South African Olympic swimmer hugging her husband, Prince Albert, and their six-year-old twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, on her arrival home on Sunday evening.

The timing of her return was perfect as she was able to be there to greet her kids just after they'd returned from school.

Speculation has been rife about the state of her marriage because of her long stay in South Africa. Speaking at King Shaka Airport near Durban shortly before departure, she made no reference to her husband. Instead, she paid a heartfelt tribute to South Africans for their love and support.

Upon her arrival at Nice Airport in France, she was greeted by royal staff and was seen walking a large Vizsla dog on a lead on the tarmac before being whisked away to Monaco via a royal helicopter. It's unclear if she brought the pet home from South Africa or if her security detail brought the animal with them when they collected her from the airport.

READ MORE | Princess Charlene grieves death of her beloved dog

Her doctors advised her not to fly until she'd undergone several complicated surgical procedures with the most recent one being a four-hour operation last month. She was then given the green light to return home.

But according to palace sources, she put her “extra” time in South Africa to good use, throwing her energies into her foundation initiatives, with a particular focus on #chasingzero (her initiative to stop rhino poaching), #educate2gether and #feed2gether (a national children feeding scheme). 

She has also been helping to mediate in the Zulu royal kingdom's succession battles. 

READ MORE | Princess Charlene the peacemaker: how the royal is “mediating” in the Zulu royal family's battles

In a press statement, Princess Charlene said, "South Africa has – and always will be – in my heart. Every time I visit this beautiful country, I am filled with immense joy and pride. I want to thank everyone for being so hospitable and supportive during my time here."

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