Bulawayo (Rhodésie, Zimbabwe)
Claim to Fame
Married to Prince Albert of Monaco
Charlene, Princess of Monaco (French: Charlène; born Charlene Lynette Wittstock, 25 January 1978), is a former Olympic swimmer for South Africa who, after marrying Prince Albert II in 2011, became Princess of Monaco.
Full Name at Birth
Charlene Lynette Wittstock
Princess of Monaco, former Competitive Swimmer
Michael Kenneth Wittstock
Lynette Humberstone Wittstock
Profile Bio Text
Charlène, Princess of Monaco (née Charlene Lynette Wittstock; born 25 January 1978) is the wife of Albert II, Prince of Monaco, and is a former South African competitive swimmer.
Charlène is the daughter of Michael and Lynette Wittstock. She was born in Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe) to a family of German and English descent, but her family relocated to Gauteng, South Africa, in 1989. She represented South Africa at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, with her team finishing fifth in the women's 4×100 m medley. She retired from competitive swimming in 2007.
She met Prince Albert in 2000 at a swimming event in Monaco. They were first seen together in 2006, and she has accompanied Albert on many of his official duties since then. They announced their engagement in June 2010 and were married on 1 July 2011.
Charlène Wittstock was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe). She is the daughter of Michael Kenneth Wittstock (born 1948), a sales manager, and Lynette Wittstock (née Humberstone, born 1959), a former competitive diver and swimming coach. Charlène has two younger brothers: Gareth (born 1980), a computer technician, and Sean (born 1983), a sales representative. Her family relocated to South Africa in 1989 when she was 12 years old. Charlène attended Tom Newby Primary school in Benoni, near Johannesburg, from 1988 to 1991.
The Wittstock family is of German origin; Charlène's great-great-grandparents Martin Gottlieb Wittstock and Louise Wittstock emigrated to South Africa from the Pomeranian village of Zerrenthin in northern Germany in 1861 to escape hardship. In South Africa the Wittstocks worked as handymen and unsuccessfully hunted for diamonds. Gottlieb's son Heinrich Carl Wittstock would marry Olive Florence Caldwell, of English origin. Their son Dudley Kenneth Wittstock, Charlène's paternal grandfather, married Sylvia Fagan Nicolson, also of English origin.
Michael Wittstock said in April 2011 that he was considering moving the family from Benoni to Monaco due to South Africa's crime rate.
Wittstock was a member of the South African women's 4×100 m medley team at the 2000 Summer Olympics, which finished fifth. She finished sixth at the 2002 FINA Short Course World Championships for the 200 m breaststroke. She left her Durban-based team (the Seagulls) to join the Tuks Swimming Club at the High Performance Centre at the University of Pretoria. She was never enrolled for any academic courses at the University of Pretoria and therefore never graduated from the University; the Club sponsored her by providing her with free access to their pools, free coaching, accommodations, and gymnasium access.
She decided to leave Pretoria in January 2005 and returned to Durban; she then went to the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal, where she joined a former Tuks swimming coach, Brannislav Ivkovic. On 13 April 2007 Wittstock regained her title as South Africa’s 50 m women’s backstroke champion when she completed the 50 m backstroke final at the Telkom SA National Aquatic Championships in 30:16 seconds, to finish third behind Australia’s Sophie Edington and Brazil’s Fabíola Molina.
She has won several national titles over the years. She planned to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics in China, which she said would be her swansong, but she did not qualify. Previously she had been out of competitive swimming for 18 months with a shoulder injury. Wittstock said she would be swimming in Europe in the near future, hoping to better her times. "I have a year left of competitive swimming, and I just want to be the best I can be in that time. After that I want to get involved in charity work, and development work with athletes' commissions." She has recently commented that her swimming days are behind her, enabling her to concentrate on her future role as Princess of Monaco.
Main article: Wedding of Albert II, Prince of Monaco, and Charlene Wittstock
Wittstock met Albert II, Prince of Monaco, in 2000 at the Mare Nostrum swimming meet in Monaco. They were first seen together at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Winter Olympics. Wittstock moved in with Albert in 2006. She accompanied him to the weddings of Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, in 2010, and Prince William in 2011.
On 23 June 2010, the couple became officially engaged. Wittstock, who was raised a Protestant, converted to Roman Catholicism, even though this is not a requirement of the Constitution of Monaco. The future princess also learned to speak French and the Monégasque dialect, and to become acquainted with European court protocol.
The wedding was originally scheduled for 8 and 9 July 2011 but was moved forward to prevent a conflict with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Durban on 5–9 July.
Couple Profile Source
Tom Newby Primary school in Benoni, near Johannesburg (1988 to 1991)
University of Pretoria (Attended, but never graduated)
Classic Beauty, Modern Day Grace Kelly
Gareth Wittstock, Sean Wittstock
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