The Prince of Monaco, Prince Albert, married Princess Charlene in 2011, and the two share twin children. However, before Charlene, Albert was Monaco's most eligible bachelor, who fathered two illegitimate children. While he acknowledges them, he swears off a third child, calling the claim a hoax.
Prince Albert met South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock in 2000 at the Mare Nostrum swimming meet in Monaco. The two married in 2011, later welcoming their twin children, Princess Gabriella and Jacques, Hereditary Prince of Monaco, in December 2014.
However, before and even after his marriage to Charlene, he faced controversy following his previous indiscretions. In 2005, the prince officially acknowledged the paternity of a boy, Alexandre, born to Nicole Coste, a French-Togolese woman.
Nicole Coste and her son (son of Prince Albert de Monaco) Alexandre Grimaldi Coste at Hotel Mariott during the 74th annual Cannes Film Festival on July 06, 2021 in Cannes, France. | Source: Getty Images
The Prince stated through his lawyer that he "has and will continue to face up to his responsibilities" towards his child, with the former flight attendant whom he'd met in July 1997 aboard a flight from the French Riviera to Paris.
In acknowledging paternity, the prince automatically conferred the boy the eventual right to inherit part of his billion-dollar fortune. Being the prince's first child, Alexandre also became the first heir of the storied Grimaldi family fortune.
Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and Prince Albert II of Monaco attend the 2020 Hollywood For The Global Ocean Gala honoring HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco at Palazzo di Amore on February 06, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images
A year later, after years of rumors about a daughter, the prince again acknowledged paternity to a second love child, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, born to a waitress, Tamara Rotolo. The two had a brief affair as she vacationed on the Cote d'Azur in 1991.
A THIRD ILLEGITIMATE CHILD
In owning up to his responsibilities, the prince perhaps wanted to uphold the traditions of a dysfunctional family defined by intrigue and scandal for the past seven centuries.
However, those dreams seem far out of reach now that he faces another paternity scandal, perhaps the most intriguing yet. The new impropriety involves a Brazilian woman, referred to as Mariza S, for the sake of court proceedings. Her real name remains withheld for legal reasons.
Prince Albert II of Monaco attends day nine of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 8, 2015 in London, England. | Source: Getty Images
After the scandal erupted, [Princess Charlene] had to gear herself up for "hell."
According to publications, Mariza is a woman in her mid-thirties with thick black hair who claims she caught the prince's eye in a nightclub in Rio in 2004. Legal documents filed in Milan allege that Mariza, then 20, did not recognize the prince.
The prince reportedly told her he was a Canadian lawyer and diplomat. After meeting, they went on a two-week fling around the globe, allegedly flying from Rio to Lisbon, then to Milan. They then traveled via Monaco to Moscow, where she met President Putin. Eventually, she boarded a plane back to Rio via Amsterdam.
Prince Albert II of Monaco speaks during the UN Climate Change Conference on day three of COP26 at SECC on November 2, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland | Source: Getty Images
The prince and his camp vehemently denied the claims, with his lawyers calling the whole case a hoax. Legal papers filed by Mariza's lawyers demanded that the prince agrees to a DNA test, as he had with his other two illegitimate children.
When all attempts to contact the prince proved futile, the child in question reportedly sent him a letter. Handwritten in Portuguese and addressed to "Dear Daddy," the note started with the "child" saying she had asked her mother about her father since she was five or six but never got an answer. The letter continued:
"I don't understand why I grew up without a father, and now that I've found you, you don't want to see me."
Prince Albert II of Monaco waves as he appears on the balcony of the Monaco Palace during the celebrations marking Monaco's National Day, on November 19, 2018 in Monaco. | Source: Getty Images
The prince was set to appear in court in February 2021, but that was delayed after he applied for sovereign immunity at the high court, which would make him immune from any civil or legal prosecutions, which according to his lawyer, is legal in Monaco.
WHAT IF SHE IS THE PRINCE'S CHILD?
While the prince and his camp claim the child isn't his, the outcome hangs in the balance. If she is proven to be his child, she will inherit part of the billion-dollar wealth.
As is the law, the prince's wealth, which comes from family inheritance and consists primarily of real estate, will be distributed amongst his children, legitimate or otherwise.
While the rules apply to the inheritance of wealth, they do not apply to the throne. The Royal Palace is not new to stories of romantic escapades and subsequent illegitimate children.
In the past, however, children born out of wedlock to royals were entitled to become part of Europe's oldest royal family because there was no choice. In case there were no other heirs, the illegitimate children were needed to preserve the dynasty.
However, once Prince Albert took over the throne, he changed the law precisely because he had been a long-standing bachelor with no signs of marrying or having children. That would mean the crown would pass over to his sisters and their children. The law change resulted in illegitimate children being unable to inherit the throne.
PRINCESS CHARLENE AND WHAT SHE THINKS OF THE SITUATION
Around the same time that Mariza claims to have had her rendezvous with the prince, he was unmarried. However, according to a source that works closely with the Monaco Royal household, Charlene was already in love with him.
Even so, it is not any easier for the princess, who dealt with a lot during the year. According to the source, she had numerous family crises, including her husband contracting Coronavirus. After the scandal erupted, she had to gear herself up for "hell."
Princess Charlene | Source: Getty Images
In addition to the scandal shocking the world, the princess had more in store for royal observers when she appeared at a charity event with the blond locks on one side of her head shaved off. Some speculated it was a sign of turmoil, but on the contrary, she disclosed to her husband's biographer that she just liked the style.
Around the same time, she reportedly skipped an official meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, then later flew to South Africa unaccompanied. A stay that was supposed to last a week ended up lasting months.
People speculated that she stayed that long to isolate herself, but the prince confirmed it was purely for medical reasons. Doctors had reportedly warned her against flying as the pressurized private jet would aggravate a sinus infection related to a dental implant procedure she had undergone earlier.
Before flying to South Africa, the princess had insisted she was happy and expressed she fully supported her husband, who always tells her about his problems. She shared:
"I often tell him, 'No matter what, I'm a thousand percent behind you. I'll stand by you whatever you do, in good times or in bad.'"
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