H.S.H Princess Charlene of Monaco • The Princess Charlene Of Monaco Foundation South Africa Skip to content

H.S.H Princess Charlene of Monaco


Charlene Lynette Wittstock was born on the 25th January 1978 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, but moved to South Africa at the age of 12. A talented athlete and highly-awarded competitive swimmer, she met His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco at the Mare Nostrum swimming competition in Monte Carlo, Monaco in 2000. They were married in July of 2011 and in 2014 Princess Charlene gave birth to twins, Crown Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella.


Princess Charlene developed a passion for swimming at an early age and her talent for the sport soon became evident. At 18 years of age she won the South African Championships in backstroke and four years later she competed in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, with her team coming fifth. That same year, she won a gold medal in the 200m backstroke at the Mare Nostrum international swimming meeting in Monaco. In 2002 she won gold medals at the Swimming World Cup tournament and a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. She made the decision to end her competitive career in 2007, but her love of the sport has extended into her work as a philanthropist.


Her Serene Highness has contributed to many charitable causes. Her interest in humanitarian work began when her childhood in Africa exposed her to the challenges faced by children in underprivileged communities. Before her marriage she gave swimming lessons to less fortunate children and as the Princess of Monaco, she frequently accompanies His Serene Highness on his travels to support charitable works and hosts fundraising events for organisations such as amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research).


In 2011, she was appointed as a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics. and was asked to become a co-patron of the Giving Organisation Trust, a group of South African charities that deal with issues ranging from HIV and AIDS to the protection of the environment. Since June 2012, Princess Charlene has been the patron of AS Rugby Monaco as well as Honorary President of Monaco Liver Disorder. Since November 2012, she has been the Honorary President of the MONAA (Monaco Against Autism) association and in 2014 she received the “Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Italy”.


In 2015, Princess Charlene formed a partnership with the Pontifical Council and attended their 30th Annual Conference for Healthcare Workers at the Vatican where she spoke about the global drowning epidemic. In 2012, Her Serene Highness began her own international organisation, the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, in order to address the issue of water safety amongst children world wide. The Foundation’s work has made a difference in the lives of thousands of people thus far and continues to grow and expand its reach to help prevent lives being lost in the water.


An active person with a number of diverse interests, Her Serene Highness also enjoys surfing and hiking in the mountains, and reads extensively. She particularly enjoys biographies and ethic poetry from South Africa. She also has a keen eye for contemporary art.

Princess Charlene Talks About Her Love for Africa