Princess Charlene made an emotional return to her roots recently, on an official visit to South Africa.
And despite a whirlwind schedule, Princess Charlene looked the epitome of glamour in a floor length red dress as she gave a speech on water safety at a glittering gala in Johannesburg to celebrate the work of her charitable foundation, which teaches swimming and lifesaving skills.
In an impassioned speech, she said: “Every 85 seconds someone loses their life to drowning. Globally, it is the third leading cause of accidental death. Many of these deaths are preventable and I am determined to put a stop to this by educating children about water safety and teaching them to swim. Together we will save lives – one person, one family, one community at a time.”
But home life was never far from her mind as she interrupted a chat with local celebrities when she got a call from her husband Prince Albert, saying: ‘I have got to speak to the Prince.’ Her husband was no doubt calling with an update on their twins Jacques and Gabriella, who he is caring for at home.
While in Johannesburg, during her five-day trip to South Africa, she also recorded a few interviews where she’s opened about her twins. She said that her passion for her foundation is driven by her heritage.
“I am African and this is my heritage. It will always be. It’s in my heart and in my veins and it will always be.”
The Princess said her two-year-old twins, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques, will grow to love South Africa: “I can’t wait to show Africa and to introduce them to their African roots”.
The royal has often visited South Africa since her marriage to Prince Albert. The two spent their honeymoon in her home country. Last year, Charlene made a surprise visit to her Benoni home for her father’s birthday.
The Princess told local Johannesburg radio station in answer to how her day of the Princess passes: “First of all, I’m a mum. I have two children, and my day probably begins like any other mum’s. When I wake up, it’s ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round,” she laughed.
When asked how Gabriella and Jacques were, she responded: “Actually, they’re really a handful. They’re beautiful; they’re smart. Full of energy. I really hope that in the next couple of years I’ll be able to bring them to South Africa; that would be an amazing moment for me.”
The Princess, who is a former Olympic swimmer, revealed that while she still enjoys swimming, she does not watch the sport as often as she would like. She explained: “I’m very busy with my children at the moment and my program.”
Discussing her foundation, the mom-of-two said, “I created the foundation on the basis that we would teach children to swim, people to swim and then we’ve expanded to water safety programs and now we’ve just implemented CPR.”
During her latest trip, Her Serene Highness visited the Gugulesizwe Primary School in Benoni. There, she demonstrated water safety techniques. Charlene taught children essential first aid and CPR in order to give them an essential skill as orphans with responsibility for their siblings.
Charlene also admitted in her interview that she wanted to introduce her children to the water after they were born in 2014.
“The first thing that I wanted to do when I had my children, Jacques and Gabriella, I would want to teach them water safety,” the Princess said. “It was important for me to get my children familiar with the water and obviously to learn to swim so they would feel comfortable in the aquatic environment.”
Princess Charlene also attended the Empress Stakes Horse Race at the Turffotein Race Course with her family during her visit to the South Africa. The race is held to raise money for Gugulesizwe Primary School, the Red Cross and Highveld Horse Care Unit. A number of high profile guests made their way to the Johannesburg track with newly crowned Miss South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters also in attendance along with household sporting names including swimmer Terence Parkin and Gordon Igesund, coach of Premier Soccer League outfit Highlands Park.
“Thank you all for supporting this day and congratulations to everyone,” Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco said of the afternoon’s festivities which saw a healthy sum of R300 000 handed over to charity. “The sporting values of discipline, respect for oneself and others, teamwork and determination are ones that I am always keen to promote and ones that I know the racing industry here in South Africa is equally committed to.”