Prince Albert of Monaco will appear in court in the new year to fight explosive claims he fathered a third love child with a secret girlfriend before marrying his now wife Princess Charlene.
The 62-year-old prince, who already supports two illegitimate children, is alleged to have had a relationship with a Brazilian woman which resulted in a daughter in 2005.
The claim, which his lawyers dismissed as a ‘hoax’, is particularly painful as he was dating Charlene at the time, having met the former Olympic swimmer in 2000.
On Wednesday, 42-year-old Princess Charlene appeared in public in Monte Carlo with part of her head shaved, sporting a dramatic new punk rock hair style.
Sources in the Mediterranean principality say she has had a ‘terrible’ year as lawyers for the billionaire couple brace themselves for the court case that opens in Milan, Italy, in February.
The 34-year-old claimant – who cannot be named for legal reasons – says she had a passionate affair with Albert, leading to the birth of their daughter – whose name is also classified – on July 4, 2005.
Albert received a handwritten letter from the child, who is now 15, in September this year reading: ‘I don’t understand why I grew up without a father, and now that I have found you, you don’t want to see me.’
Prince Albert of Monaco will appear in court in the new year to fight explosive claims he fathered a third love child with a secret girlfriend before marrying his now wife Princess Charlene (seen this week with a dramatic new haircut)
Legal papers were also filed, as lawyers for the claimant called on Albert to undergo a DNA test – just as he did before finally being identified as the father of two illegitimate children born in the 1990s and early 2000s.
‘This was before Charlene and Albert were an item, but the latest case covers a time when she was already in love with him,’ said a source who works closely with the Monaco Royal household.
‘Charlene has had a terrible year, with one family crisis after another including Albert going down with Coronavirus, and now she’s gearing herself up for this hell.’
Billionaire Albert became the first head of state in the world to test positive for Covid-19 in March.
The princess, whose maiden name was Charlene Wittstock, was an Olympic swimmer for South Africa when she first met Albert at a Monaco aquatic competition in 2000.
They began dating soon afterwards, before Charlene married into the House of Grimaldi at a star-studded wedding in July 2011.
Their twins – daughter Gabriella and son Jacques – were born three years later and are seen as the family’s official heirs.
Princess Charlene shares six-year-old twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, whom she gave birth to in 2014, with Prince Albert
By this time, Charlene had come to terms with Albert’s hard fought legal battles with women who eventually won financial settlements over children they had with Albert – even though he originally denied their claims.
In May 2005, just before he was enthroned as Prince of Monaco, Albert confirmed he was the biological father of Alexandre, whose mother was Nicole Coste, a former Air France flight attendant from Togo.
A DNA test in May 2006 also confirmed Albert was the father of Jazmine Grace, the result of an affair with Tamara Rotolo, an American estate agent he met while she was on holiday in the South of France.
Jazmine was born in the 1990s and Alexandre in 2003. The Brazilian woman says she travelled around the world with the Prince in the 2000s.
The royal, who usually wears her hair in a chic blonde bob, shocked fans around the world when she unveiled her drastic new haircut this week (pictured, before the haircut in September)
Her Italian lawyer is, by coincidence, called Erich Grimaldi – the name of the Grimaldi Royal Household of which Albert and Charlene are a part.
Mr Grimaldi said he had filed papers with specific details of his client’s love affair with Albert, including trips to Brazil, the USA, France and Russia.
While in Moscow, the lovers are even said to have had a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, who gave the Brazilian ‘a warm hug’, according to court papers.
Now Albert is said to be ignoring all correspondence from his alleged third daughter, instead leaving the matter to his legal team.
Princess Charlene’s life in the Monaco royal family
1987 – Bea Fiedler, a German topless model, claims her son Daniel was the prince’s son.
1992 – An American national files a paternity lawsuit against the Prince, claiming that he was the father of her daughter, Jazmin Grace.
2000 – Princess Charlene meets Prince Albert at the Mare Nostrum swimming competition in Monte Carlo
2005 – In May, a former flight attendant claims that her youngest son, whom she named Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste, was Prince Albert’s child. She states that his parentage had been proven by DNA tests requested by the Monegasque government.
On 6 July, a few days before he was enthroned on 12 July, the Prince officially confirms via his lawyer Lacoste that Alexandre was his biological son.
2006 – After a DNA test confirmed the child’s parentage, Albert admitted, via statement from his lawyer, that he is Jazmin Grace’s father.
2010 – Princess Charlene and Prince Albert announce their engagement
2011 – Princess Charlene was said to have bolted two days before the royal wedding after hearing Prince Albert had a third love child during their relationship.
It was alleged that Charlene tried to flee home to South Africa three times before her ‘arranged marriage’, at one point taking refuge inside her country’s embassy in Paris.
Monaco officials were said to have coaxed her back by brokering a deal between the Prince and his reluctant bride that she provide him with a legitimate heir.
After that she would be free to leave of her own free will.
During the wedding, Charlene was in floods of tears, while her husband looked on impassively.
Later in the year, Princess Charlene confessed she felt ‘very lonely’ in Monaco
2012 – Princess Charlene was reported to be ‘depressed’ at her failure to provide her husband with a legitimate heir.
2014 – Pregnancy was announced in May.
In December Charlene gave birth to twins Princess Gabriella and heir to the throne Prince Jacques.
2017 – Princess Charlene visits Africa, tells media: ‘I am African and this is my heritage. It will always be. It’s in my heart and in my veins.’
2019 – In a rare interview, Princess Charlene confessed it is ‘sometimes hard to smile’ and said the year had been ‘very painful’
In another interview, she said she found motherhood ‘exhausting’
Albert’s lawyer, Thierry Lacoste, has described the allegations as a ‘a hoax’, saying: ‘There are no intimate photos, no tangible facts surrounding a possible relationship.’
Mr Lacoste said he was also considering filing a counter claim for ‘attempted fraud and blackmail’ because the claimant threatened to publicise her story if no cash was forthcoming, Mr Lacoste told France’s Le Point magazine.
Neither Albert’s daughter Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, now 28, nor his son, Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste, 17, can claim the throne of Monaco, according to negotiated financial agreements.
The line of succession instead favours Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, who have just turned six, and who frequently appear in their parents’ social media posts.
Charlene, who was accused of trying to run away three times before she married, was seen in floods of tears on her wedding day to Prince Albert in 2011
Charlene is known for being exceptionally quiet and soft-spoken, making it even more likely that her new hairstyle is a sign of distress, said another Monte Carlo resident who has known the couple since before their marriage.
She pointed to a series of unsettling incidents in Charlene’s career as a royal, which included the princess being in floods of tears throughout her wedding to Albert.
‘They were saying she was very home sick, and was desperate to get back to Africa,’ said the friend.
‘This was a time when there were already rumours that Albert had yet another love child conceived during his time with Charlene.
‘It was said that Charlene got news of the child when she was being fitted for a bridal gown in Paris. The rumours subsided for a while, but now they have exploded again.’
In an interview with the South African magazine Huisgenoot a year ago, Charlene confirmed that her fairytale lifestyle came with deep problems.
Charlene said: ‘People are very quick to say, “Oh, why isn’t she smiling in the photos?”.
‘Well, sometimes it’s hard to smile. They don’t know what’s going on in the background.’”
She added: ‘I have the privilege of having this life, but I miss my family and my friends in South Africa and I’m often sad because I cannot always be there for them.’