Is Prince Albert's former mistress edging into the gap left by absent Princess Charlene? Nicole Coste has been spending more time than ever with Monaco royal – amid reports his wife is 'living in Switzerland'

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  •  Nicole Coste has appeared at various events in Monte Carlo in recent months
  • READ MORE:  Princess Charlene and Prince Albert brush off marriage woe rumours as they holiday in Corsica

Ever since she met Prince Albert on a plane in 1997, Nicole Coste has played a strange role on the outskirts of Monegasque society.

While the leader of the micro-nation was clearly infatuated with the Togo-born fashion designer, the couple’s seven-year relationship was never made public, until  their son Alexandre was revealed in the press in 2004.  

Their liaison became the best-kept secret among Monaco society. Although they both attended red carpet events and mixed with socialites and celebrities, the majority of Albert’s subjects knew nothing of the relationship.

And even since going public, Nicole has stayed on the outskirts of the ultra-wealthy nation’s events,  until recently.

Last week the fashion designer posed next to Prince Albert to mark their son Alexandre’s 20th birthday. They were joined by Jazmin Grimaldi – Albert’s other illegitimate child  – and her other sons from her first marriage.

Ever since she met Prince Albert on a plane in 1997, Nicole Coste has played a strange role on the outskirts of Monegasque society. Pictured in April and Prince Albert's ball

Ever since she met Prince Albert on a plane in 1997, Nicole Coste has played a strange role on the outskirts of Monegasque society. Pictured in April and Prince Albert’s ball

Last week the fashion designer posed next to Prince Albert to mark their son Alexandre's 20th birthday. They were joined by Jazmin Grimaldi - Albert's other illegitimate child - and her other sons from her first marriage

Last week the fashion designer posed next to Prince Albert to mark their son Alexandre’s 20th birthday. They were joined by Jazmin Grimaldi – Albert’s other illegitimate child – and her other sons from her first marriage

Prior to this, Nicole nearly came tete-a-tete with Albert and Charlene at the 74th annual Red Cross ball.

Former Air France stewardess Nicole, 51, was among the guests at the fundraiser, which was founded by Prince Albert’s grandfather, Prince Louis II of Monaco, in 1948.

Nicole shared a photograph online of her inside the venue at the Sporting Club Salle des Etoiles. ‘Red, my favourite colour,’ she said of her choice of dress.

The former air hostess was also spotted at  Prince Albert Foundation’s ball in Monte Carlo in April.

There is no love lost between Nicole and ex-Olympic swimmer Charlene, 45. Coste has not forgiven the Princess for allegedly putting Alexandre in the palace’s staff wing before her £53million wedding in 2011.

Prior to this, Nicole nearly came tete-a-tete with Albert and Charlene at the 74th annual Red Cross ball. Former Air France stewardess Nicole, 51, was among the guests at the fundraiser, which was founded by Prince Albert's grandfather, Prince Louis II of Monaco, in 1948

Prior to this, Nicole nearly came tete-a-tete with Albert and Charlene at the 74th annual Red Cross ball. Former Air France stewardess Nicole, 51, was among the guests at the fundraiser, which was founded by Prince Albert’s grandfather, Prince Louis II of Monaco, in 1948

While she has previously had a frosty relationship with Albert too - claiming he 'doesn't want to see his son' - she has recently lavished praise on the monarch - shairng a photo with him on his birthday with the caption: 'Happy birthday Albert.The world will recognise you as The Loyal, the Dignity, the KING

While she has previously had a frosty relationship with Albert too – claiming he ‘doesn’t want to see his son’ – she has recently lavished praise on the monarch – shairng a photo with him on his birthday with the caption: ‘Happy birthday Albert.The world will recognise you as The Loyal, the Dignity, the KING

Prince Albert is pictured today in front of the SolarStratos solar powered aircraft prototype in Switzerland

 Prince Albert is pictured today in front of the SolarStratos solar powered aircraft prototype in Switzerland

While she has previously had a frosty relationship with Albert too – claiming he ‘doesn’t want to see his son’ – she has recently lavished praise on the monarch – shairng a photo with him on his birthday with the caption: ‘Happy birthday Albert.The world will recognise you as The Loyal, the Dignity, the KING’.

In November, she shared another shot of Albert with Alexandre and Jazmin in New York, New York, with the cheeky caption: ‘ Paternally king’. 

Perhaps, Nicole’s presence on the social scene is due to Charlene’s absence.

European media has been rife with rumours of the star of the couple’s marriage, recently reporting that Charlene is ‘living in Switzerland’ and only sees her husband Prince Albert for ceremonial reasons.

The royal, 45, has spent the summer on a yacht trip with her husband, 65, and their eight-year-old twins Jacques and Gabriella.

Nicole was also seen at Monaco cathedral during the traditional Sainte Devote procession in Monaco, January 27, 2022

Nicole was also seen at Monaco cathedral during the traditional Sainte Devote procession in Monaco, January 27, 2022

But she has not returned to the Palace and is living in abroad, fuelling speculation about the state of the couple’s marriage.

A source close to the couple told French newspaper Voici that the former Olympic swimmer and son of Grace Kelly are just a ‘ceremonial couple’.

It adds that Charlene has promised to return to Monaco on official occasions and is now allowed to see her children more often.

‘Albert and Charlène are now good partners, take turns taking care of the children,’ a source added to German newspaper Bild.

FEMAIL has contacted the Monaco Royal Palace for comment. 

Nicole previously admitted she felt little sympathy for Charlene after she was hospitalised for ‘exhaustion’ in 2021. 

Prince Albert's twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella with their half-siblings Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste

Prince Albert’s twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella with their half-siblings Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste 

‘I don’t care what’s going on with her,’ she told me. Nicole, who had a six-year clandestine relationship with Albert, even claimed: ‘The people in Monaco love me more than they do Charlene. They really love and respect me.’

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday in 2014, Nicole told how she was shunned by Monaco society and left to explain to her tearful son why his father no longer sees him.

At the time she lived  just five miles away from Monaco in an estate in the town of Villefranche-sur-Mer provided for by Prince Albert, but she has since relocated to London.

‘The truth is that, I’m sorry to say, Albert hasn’t seen Alexandre since a brief visit last September. It has become impossible since he married that girl,’ she said at the time. 

Who are the Monaco Royal Family? 

Rainier III had three children with wife Grace Kelly

Rainier III had three children with wife Grace Kelly

Rainier III ruled Monaco for almost 56 years, making him one of the longest ruling monarchs in European history.

He was crucially responsible for the transformation of Monaco economy, shifting from its traditional casino base to its current status as a tax haven and cultural destination. 

He also coordinated the substantial reforms of Monaco’s constitution, which limited the powers of sovereign rule. He wed US film star Grace Kelly in 1956, with generated global media attention.

They had three children, Caroline, Princess of Hanover, Prince Albert and Princess Stéphanie.

Caroline served as first lady of Monaco until her brother married Charlene in 2011. She regularly attends important social events in Monaco, such as the National Day celebrations, the annual Rose Ball and the Red Cross Ball.

She married French banker Philippe Junot in 28 June 1978, before divorcing in 1980, before marrying Stefano Casiraghi, with whom she had three children Andrea Albert Pierre Casiraghi, Charlotte Marie Pomeline Casiraghi and Pierre Rainier Stefano Casiraghi.

Stefano was killed in a speed boating accident in 1990, with Caroline going on to marry Prince Ernst August of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick in 1999, and have one daughter Princess Alexandra Charlotte Ulrike Maryam Virginia of Hanover.

Meanwhile Princess Stéphanie has been a singer, swimwear designer and fashion model.

Tragically, on 13 September 1982, while returning home from their farm in Rocagel, France, Stéphanie and her mother had a car accident. Grace died the next day, on September 14, while Stéphanie sustained a fracture of a neck vertebra.

She began a relationship with Daniel Ducruet with whom she had two children, Louis and Pauline. She gave birth to her third child Camille Gottlieb in 1992.  

Prince Albert II ascended to the throne after the death of his father, Prince Rainier III, on 6th April 2005. He is one of the wealthiest royals in the world, worth an estimated $1 billion.

He married former Olympic swimmer Charlene in 2011 and gave birth to twins Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques in 2014

The children are often seen at royal events alongside Princess Charlene and Prince Albert, including on the balcony at Monaco’s National Day celebrations on 19th November every year. 

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‘I suppose as a new wife, how would one feel? But she should think about my innocent child. I don’t want to attack her but I think it is just jealousy and I don’t know why. I have been through hell in my fight for my son’s name and future.’

Speaking about how she met Albert, she went on: ‘The strange thing is that I wasn’t even supposed to be on the flight,’ recalls Nicole. ‘I was on standby that day and was filling in for a colleague.

‘I always served in First Class so I was accustomed to dealing with VIPs. When I saw Albert our eyes met and I knew this was different. There was definitely an aura around him and we hit it off immediately.

‘I found him attractive with a twinkle in his eye.

‘He asked for my mobile telephone number. I didn’t write it on a napkin but on proper paper from the First Class cabin. I think he knew I wasn’t intimidated by him, that I felt comfortable in his presence.

‘I was charmed but no, it wasn’t love at first sight. That came later. Albert called me and asked me to come to Monaco for the weekend. It all seemed very natural and I bought my own ticket and stayed with him at his private apartment. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, this is nice.’ ‘

Nicole, whose father was a merchant in Togo, West Africa, admits she was excited and flattered by the attention. ‘I think he was attracted by my softness, but I was determined not to be a plaything. I needed him to respect me. So when we slept together we cuddled up but didn’t have sex.

‘I was determined that we wouldn’t make love until we got to know each other better. Albert respected that. I was no gold-digger. If anything, I bought him gifts.’

She admits: ‘I didn’t expect to fall for Albert. I recall waking up in the night and realising that I had fallen in love with him.’

‘It is not my fault I fell in love with a Prince,’ Nicole says defensively. Inevitably, however, their initial passion waned and the relationship petered out. But in its final days, Nicole discovered she was pregnant.

‘When I first broke the news to Albert he was fine about it,’ she says. ‘He said I should keep the baby and promised to support me.’ However, months later the Prince’s enthusiasm waned. ‘I think Palace officials had got to him, possibly pointing out future inheritance problems.’

In spite of Nicole’s suspicions it is unlikely that was Albert’s motive. A year before Alexandre was born in 2003, Prince Rainier – concerned that Monaco would revert to becoming part of France if his son did not produce an heir – changed the constitution to decree that only the legitimate offspring of Albert or his sisters, Caroline and Stephanie, could inherit the royal title. This ensured that, should Albert die childless, Caroline or her children would ascend to the throne.

When Alexandre was born Albert provided a generous financial allowance for Nicole and her son and moved them into an exquisite villa on the French Riviera. Though Alexandre’s birth scandalised Monegasque society, initially Albert was a loving father. Nicole says that she taught the Prince how to change his son’s nappies.

‘Albert and his son shared an affectionate, natural father/son relationship with trips and pirate-themed birthday parties,’ she reveals. ‘The Prince was proud of his son, often cuddling him warmly.

But while Albert was, albeit in private, a hands-on father, he refused to acknowledge paternity. It was only when DNA tests proved he was the father that he accepted the situation.

In 2005 he announced he was the father but decreed his illegitimate son would not inherit the throne. He did, however, vow that Alexandre would be cared for financially. When Albert met and then became engaged to South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock in 2010, his interest in his son waned.

Nicole felt sidelined and snubbed by society friends who feared they would offend the new Princess-to-be if they consorted with her.

Many criticised Nicole in public, dubbing her ‘audacious’ for demanding recognition and rights for her son. She also caused anger by being pictured strolling with her son in the Monaco sunshine on the eve of Albert and Charlene’s wedding in 2011. ‘I was fed up being a secret,’ she says angrily.

‘I was with Albert for nearly seven years, when I didn’t know where it was going. I carry a lot of hurt inside,’ she said at the time. 

Complications from a sinus operation led to the royal (pictured with her husband) staying in her native country for 10 months, and there have been rumours about the state of her marriage ever since

Complications from a sinus operation led to the royal (pictured with her husband) staying in her native country for 10 months, and there have been rumours about the state of her marriage ever since

‘I don’t want to see my son rejected. He sees other boys in his class have their fathers around and it is not good that he doesn’t even hear from his. I’m worried that this will upset Alexandre emotionally.

‘Although Albert is very generous I don’t feel I can contact him after his marriage.

‘At Easter, Alexandre said two things upset him. One was the British weather and the other was not seeing his father.

‘But I can’t make miracles happen. There is more to being a father than just money.’A son needs a father to love, help and guide him through life. We must find a way to make this happen.

‘As for me, I want people to know me as Nicole Coste, the talented fashion designer – not Nicole, that woman who once slept with the Prince of Monaco.’

Princess Charlene of Monaco is 'living in Switzerland' and only sees her husband Prince Albert for ceremonial reasons, reports in German and French media have claimed

Princess Charlene of Monaco is ‘living in Switzerland’ and only sees her husband Prince Albert for ceremonial reasons, reports in German and French media have claimed 

Princess Charlene of Monaco stepped out in Milan in March without her engagement ring after denying divorce rumours with her husband Prince Albert

Princess Charlene of Monaco stepped out in Milan in March without her engagement ring after denying divorce rumours with her husband Prince Albert

Meanwhile, the couple’s son Alexandre is also stepping into the spotlight, recently giving a tell-all interview to French tabloid Point de Vue.

He hit back at being called ‘illegitimate’ complaining that online trolls question his legitimacy. 

‘When I was born, neither of my parents were in another marriage, and they did not commit adultery. Using that word [illegitimate] is insulting! I hope no one believes the lies conveyed on the internet. One bears the name of one’s father when one has been recognised since birth. I had voluntary recognition from my father when I was a baby. Not from a judge or the press who have forced him to,’ he added.

It comes after Charlene spent 10-months away from her husband after returning to her native South Africa for what was supposed to be a month-long trip.

She wasn’t picture in Monaco from January 2021 until March 2022, citing an ear issue which stopped her from flying.

Upon her return to the principality, Albert claimed she was ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘unwell’.

Complications from a sinus operation led to the royal (pictured with her husband) staying in her native country for 10 months, and there have been rumours about the state of her marriage ever since

Complications from a sinus operation led to the royal (pictured with her husband) staying in her native country for 10 months, and there have been rumours about the state of her marriage ever since

Speaking to People magazine, Albert said the family reunion in Monaco last week initially went ‘pretty well’ in the first few hours, but it then became ‘pretty evident’ that Charlene was ‘unwell.’

He said the former Olympian ‘realised she needed help’, adding: ‘She was overwhelmed and couldn’t face official duties, life in general or even family life.’

The Prince said the final decision making process about treatment involved an intervention-style meeting with family members, explaining: ‘I sat her down with her brothers and a sister-in-law. She had already made her decision, and we only wanted her to confirm it in front of us. She wanted this.

‘She already knew the best thing to do was to go and have a rest and have a real medically framed treatment. And not in Monaco. For privacy reasons, it would have to be someplace outside of Monaco.’

Meanwhile he revealed Gabriella and Jacques would ‘visit’ Charlene once they had the ‘medical go-ahead’, saying the  twins ‘knew she was tired’ and ‘not quite herself.’

A tumultuous two years for Princess Charlene that saw her spend 10 months in South Africa away from her children, admitted to a treatment facility in Switzerland and strike a rumoured £10 million a year deal with Albert  

2021: HEALTH ISSUES, 10 MONTHS IN SOUTH AFRICA AND ADMISSION TO A SWISS TREATMENT FACILITY 

January 27 – Charlene is pictured with Albert for the Sainte Devote Ceremony in Monaco.

March 18 – Charlene is pictured at the memorial for the late Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini at the KwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace in Nongoma, South Africa

April 2 – Charlene posts an Instagram picture of herself, Albert and their twins Jacques and Gabriella for Easter from an unknown locatoin. 

May 8 – Albert, Jacques and Gabriella attend a Grand Prix event in Monaco without Charlene

May 18 – Charlene shares her first picture from her conservation trip in South Africa

June 3 – New photos emerge of Charlene on her conservation trip

June 5 – Charlene puts on a united front as she shares a photo with her family to mark her niece’s fifth birthday with her brother’s family and Albert and the twins in South Africa

June 24 – Charlene’s foundation releases a statement saying the royal is unable to travel and is undergoing procedures for an ear, nose and throat infection

July 2 – Charlene and Albert mark their 10th anniversary separately. ‘This year will be the first time that I’m not with my husband on our anniversary in July, which is difficult, and it saddens me,’ Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene said in a statement.

August 13 – Charlene undergoes a four-hour operation. The reason is not announced

August 25 – Charlene shares photos of Prince Albert, Gabriella and Jacques visiting her in South Africa

September 1 – Charlene is admitted under an alias to the Netcare Alberlito Hospital after suddenly ‘collapsing’

September 2 – Charlene is discharged, with a statement from the Palais Princier reading: ‘Her Highness is closely monitored by Her medical team who said that Her condition was not worrying’

September 30 – Charlene releases a stylish video promoting her anti-poaching campaign from her South African bolthole

October 3 – Princess Charlene shares a photograph of herself smiling in front of a bible in her first snap since being discharged from hospital following her health scare

October 6 – Albert tells RMC radio Charlene is ‘ready to come home’

October 8 2021 – Princess undergoes more surgery in South Africa

November 8 – Charlene arrives back in Monaco. Prince Albert said within hours it became clear she was ‘unwell’

November 13 2021  – Prince Albert attends Expo 2020 in Dubai without Princess Charlene. Following his return from the trip, Prince Albert holds an intervention with Charlene’s brothers and a sister-in-law in which Charlene ‘confirmed’ she would seek ‘real medically-framed treatment’ outside of Monaco

November 16 – Royal household confirms Princess Charlene will not attend National Day celebrations on November 19

November 17 – Prince Albert reveals Princess Charlene has left Monaco and is recovering in a secret location

November 19 – Prince Albert reveals Charlene is in a treatment facility ‘elsewhere in Europe’ after a family intervention

November 25 – Sources tell Page Six Princess Charlene ‘almost died’ after sinus surgery and ‘lost nearly half her body weight’ due to being ‘unable to swallow’. They also said it was ‘unfair’ to portray her as struggling with mental health issues 

December 11 – Royal breaks her silence on Instagram to wish her twins Jacques and Gabriella a happy seventh birthday

December 24 – Princess Charlene of Monaco is still ‘months from recovery’ but will reunite with Prince Albert and their twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriela for Christmas at treatment centre

2022: ROAD TO RECOVERY

January 25 – Princess Charlene celebrates her 44th birthday alone: Royal shares slideshow of snaps from happier times featuring Prince Albert, their children and her swimming career as she continues to receive treatment outside of Monaco

March 14 – Palace announces that Charlene is back in Monaco but will take time to ‘further strengthen her health before gradually resuming her official duties’

April 17 – Charlene is pictured for the first time in a family portrait to celebrate Easter

April 30 – Charlene makes her first public appearance since leaving a treatment facility as she attends Monaco E-Prix with Prince Albert

May 7 – The royal makes her second public appearance at the Sainte Dévote Rugby Tournament 

May 10 – French media claims Prince Albert has agreed to pay his wife £10million a year to make sure she fulfils her consort role 

May 25 – Princess Charlene continues her return to public life at Monte Carlo Fashion Awards with daughter Princess Gabriella 

May 28 – Princess Charlene continues her return to public life as she joins Prince Albert at F1 in Monaco for the first time since 2019 

June 6 – Prince Albert says he was hurt by the ‘vicious’ rumours about his wife’s absence from Monaco and his family ‘missed the princess a lot’ 

June 16 – Princess Charlene appears sombre in all-black ensemble for Catholic festival 

June 18 – Princess Charlene of Monaco looks glamorous in all-green ensemble as she steps out with Prince Albert for the Monte Carlo TV Festival opening ceremony 

June 23 – Albert and Charlene attend a science exhibition opening with their children in Oslo – her first overseas visit since returning to public duties

July 4 – Albert and Charlene! Monaco royals hold hands in new portrait to mark 11 years of marriage

July 5 – Charlene visits the Princess Grace Hospital Centre in her first solo engagement since her return to Monaco 

July 9 – Albert attends Monaco’s Rose Ball without his wife, despite it being the highlight of the social calendar

July 18 – Royal joins Prince Albert at the 73rd Red Cross Gala in Monte Carlo 

July 20 – Couple visit The Vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis 

September 4 – Charlene joins Prince Albert and their children Gabriella and Jacques for a rare family appearance at traditional picnic in Monaco 

September 6 – Princess Charlene and Prince Albert of Monaco take their twins Jacques and Gabriella, 7, to class for their first day back after the summer holiday

September 12 – Couple attend a memorial service for the late Queen Elizabeth II

September 19 – Princess Charlene attends the Queen’s funeral in London alongside her husband Prince Albert 

October 4-5 – Princess Charlene wows on a solo surprise visit to Paris Fashion Week

October 21 – Princess Charlene of Monaco makes emotional solo visit to an animal shelter as she sends ‘all her love’ to fans following her return to royal duties

November 8 – Royal couple attend the annual Princess Grace Awards in New York 

November 16 – Princess Charlene attends Monaco’s Red Cross Christmas gift distribution with Prince Albert 

November 19-20 – Princess Charlene attends Monaco National Day celebrations with Prince Albert and presents awards at 2022 World Rugby Awards ceremony

December 2 – Princess Charlene takes her seven-year-old twins to Monaco Christmas village along with her model niece Charlotte Casiraghi

December 13 – Attends Monaco’s Red Cross Christmas gift distribution with her husband Prince Albert 

December 14 – Family attend Christmas tree ceremony in Monaco 

December 15 – Princess Charlene of Monaco reveals she feels ‘much better’ and has ‘much more energy’ after lengthy health crisis in an interview with Monaco Matin – the first since returning to royal duties

December 21 – Royals release a stylish family Christmas card

December 23 – ‘Proud’ Prince Albert praises Princess Charlene for ‘turning it around in an incredible way’ after lengthy health crisis, saying she had a ‘very tough year’ 




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