Charlene Wittstock is a beautiful, impeccably attired Olympic athlete who is about to become a princess. She is in Vogue looking athletic, elegant, and stunning. Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, and Harvey Weinstein attended her bachelorette party in New York. Giorgio Armani is creating the dress she will wear to walk down the aisle when she marries Prince Albert of Monaco July 2. Her to-do list, once she becomes princess, Vogue tells us, includes averting too much weight training to keep her figure slim and camera-ready, and promoting Monaco as one of the world's fashion capitals. Fun! You go! Wear those pretty dresses and do those pretty things!
But the story about the 33-year-old Wittstock in today's Times would not have you envying the future wife of Grace Kelly's son for a minute, the disparity in attractiveness and age between her and the 53-year-old Albert aside.
The paper tells us:
• Four years ago, Albert moved Charlene from her home of South Africa to a small apartment in Monaco, where she basically knew no one. "With no official status, she appeared at the side of the prince when summoned, to smile a lot but to say little," the Times says.
• Prince Albert has two illegitimate children. Charlene "endured the nastiness of the locals, who gossiped about Prince Albert’s love affairs and predicted that he would never marry her. She stayed silent as stories were embellished about his siring of two children, one with an airline hostess from Togo, the other with an American tourist from California."
• "Like Diana Spencer three decades ago, she is a much younger bride of a prince with other love interests, who has been painstakingly choreographed by a palace apparatus intent on managing her image ... Will her royal marriage end up being a happy union based on mutual love and respect, as Kate’s seems to be so far, or a melancholy charade like Diana’s?"
• The palace forbids Charlene from doing many interviews. When she is allowed to speak, as she evidently was to Vogue, the palace sometimes requests to see the text of the story before it's published. (The Times was denied an interview.)
• A talk-radio host in South Africa who interviewed Charlene tells the Times the pressure she is under is depressingly palpable: "I thought she was one of the most anxious people I have ever met. She was absolutely terrified of saying the wrong thing and falling foul of the terrible women in the palace. There was a fascinating moment when I asked her to tell me about an amazing blue room in the palace, and she said, ‘I don’t know if I can talk about it.’ I wanted to put my arms around her and tell her it would be all right."
• She's not fluent in French, and though she's taking lessons, is judged mercilessly for making errors when attempting to speak it. (You know, the French and their French-y pride.)
Well, that is depressing. If you want to block it all out and focus on her pretty, pretty princess-ness, just click over to Vogue.