One week after stealing the show at her husband Prince Albert's 10th anniversary celebration with a declaration of l'amour, Monaco's Princess Charlene has offered candid new insights into her royal role.
In a wide-ranging interview published in Thursday's Paris-Match, the South African-raised Olympic swimmer, 37, discusses her marriage, the difficulties of becoming a princess in a language she didn't speak, her family and her faith.
Telling the French magazine she married "in answer to love's call" and desire to start a family, the mom of 7-month-old twins Jacques and Gabriella explained the "challenge" of adjusting to Monaco's rarefied environment when she began dating her future husband 10 years ago.
"I missed my family and my friends, as much as the simple style of life in which I was raised," she said. "Happily, I quickly found new friends here who have remained very dear."
Of her husband, 57, she said, "Everyone who knows him knows he possesses an incredible memory and a colossal capacity for work." These qualities are matched, she added, with "a coolheaded Irish nature, no doubt inherited from his mother, Princess Grace."
After their lavish 2011 wedding, "When I got to the palace, no one gave me a handbook describing how to become a princess," she said. "These walls hadn't housed a princely couple in more than 20 years."
Prince Albert's encouragement has been warm and unwavering, she said: "My husband continued to be my greatest support. He didn't put me off my dreams or stop me from going to the end of my desires."
Just prior to her wedding, Charlene converted to Roman Catholicism. "According to Grimaldi tradition, Catholicism is the state religion [in Monaco]. But for me it represents much more.
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"The values of this religion profoundly touch me and correspond perfectly to my spirit. In January 2013, Prince Albert took me to the Vatican to present me to Pope Benoit XVI, just as Prince Rainier did with Grace Kelly and Pie XII. That experience was extremely intense and moving for me."
The 10 years of her husband's reign have passed quickly and left her with a number of unforgettable "souvenirs," she said.
Eric Gaillard / Reuters / Landov
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