Prince Albert sits alongside Princess Akiko of Mikasa to watch England v Japan rugby match – after Princess Charlene returned to South Africa for first time since horror illness

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  • Albert has kept busy while his wife, Princess Charlene, is in South Africa 
  • READ MORE: Prince Albert of Monaco steps out with 8-year-old twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella while their mother Charlene remains in South Africa after insisting she is ‘serene and happy’ in her marriage
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Rugby fan Prince Albert II of Monaco made an appearance at the England v Japan  match with Princess Akiko of Mikasa, while his wife Princess Charlene enjoys time with family in her native South Africa.

Albert, 65, appeared particularly engrossed in the sporting event at Stade de Nice, France.

The outing comes as Princess Charlene, 45, enjoys some time with her relatives in her native South Africa after putting to bed rumours that her marriage to Prince Albert was on the rocks.

Instead, Princess Akiko of Mikasa, 41, a member of the Imperial House of Japan, sat next to Albert.

The event saw England take on Japan during the second match of this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Prince Albert II of Monaco (pictured right) joined Princess Akiko of Mikasa (pictured left) at the Rugby World Cup yesterday

Prince Albert II of Monaco (pictured right) joined Princess Akiko of Mikasa (pictured left) at the Rugby World Cup yesterday 

The Princess donned a Canterbury Japan home shirt, in support of her home team. Whereas Albert opted for more formal attire

The Princess donned a Canterbury Japan home shirt, in support of her home team. Whereas Albert opted for more formal attire 

The Princess recently told Monaco Matin she was 'serene and happy' after putting to bed rumours her marriage to Prince Albert was 'ceremonial'

The Princess recently told Monaco Matin she was ‘serene and happy’ after putting to bed rumours her marriage to Prince Albert was ‘ceremonial’

The Japanese royal donned a Canterbury Japan home shirt, in support of her home team.

Before Akiko’s quick change into her fan attire, she donned a smart tweed blazer for the occasion. 

Albert, on the other hand, opted for formal attire with a crisp black suit, white shirt, and striped tie. 

The royal pair engaged in light conversation during the match, and Akiko looked particularly animated during the conversation. 

But they seemed to keep their eyes on the game for much of the time, which saw England’s victory 34-12 against Japan. 

Albert is apparently occupying himself since his wife, Princess Charlene, 45, returned to South Africa for the first time since she suffered a horror illness and had to abandon her family.

The couple had been expected to travel to South Africa together to attend a ‘Learn to Swim’ charity event that included a Waterbike Challenge race.

But photos published on the Monaco Palace Instagram account on Sunday showed Charlene was again by herself in the Sun City resort, near Johannesburg, while her husband was seen swanning around a Prince Palace’s gallery.

The royal pair engaged in light conversation during the match, and Akiko looked particularly animated during the conversation

The royal pair engaged in light conversation during the match, and Akiko looked particularly animated during the conversation

It comes after Albert's wife, Princess Charlene, returned to South Africa once again without her husband

It comes after Albert’s wife, Princess Charlene, returned to South Africa once again without her husband 

A Palace spokesman said: ‘Charlene was in Sun City on a Learn to Swim activities programme organised for around a hundred children from schools in the region’. 

A source in Sun City told MailOnline: ‘It was certainly expected that Prince Albert would be here – everyone wanted to see the Royal couple together.

‘Sadly, the Prince seems to have stayed away for the moment but – who knows – he might turn up later.’

In 2021, the Princess last went back to South Africa to visit family but did not return to Monaco for 10 months. According to the palace, a sinus infection prevented her from being able to fly.

By March 2022, the Palace announced she had returned home to Monaco and was reunited with her family, but she was still in need of medical attention before she would make a full recovery. She then went to a clinic in Switzerland for further treatment.

After receiving treatment and returning to royal life, Charlene’s relationship with her husband of 12 years was put under intense scrutiny as rumours of a rift between the royal couple began to circulate.

Earlier this year, French publication ROYAUTÉ reported the couple were on the brink of divorce – rumours the Palace was forced to deny.

The rumour mill went into overdrive that same month when the mother-of-two was spotted out and about in Milan on a solo visit, without her wedding or engagement ring. 

A spokesman for the royal couple issued a statement asking people to dismiss the reports, saying: ‘I would like to formally deny the malicious rumours peddled by the French magazine Royauté. Please disregard this article which is totally unfounded.’

In the months that followed, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene put on a united front and appeared together at several public outings, both with and without their children.

However, just last month, reports emerged in German and French media that Princess Charlene was actually ‘living in Switzerland’, only saw her husband ‘via appointment’ and that their marriage was ‘ceremonial’.

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 added 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 Bild German newspaper.

With rumours swirling once again, the couple put on a united front and appeared at almost a dozen engagements in as many days last week – with each of the pair raking part in interviews to deny the rumours.

In her first interview for several months in the Monegasque media, the former Olympic swimmer, 45, hit back at the rumours of tension between the royal couple and insisted she is ‘serene and happy’.

She told Monaco Matin she is in ‘great shape’ and hopes to continue sport soon after regaining ‘more energy and feeling stronger’.

After a three-week family holiday to Corsica to ‘unwind’ before the start of school term, Charlene said she feels ‘serene and happy’.

The royal no longer wants to address the unfavourable rumours in the hope that they will eventually disappear.

Instead, she spoke to the publication in light of her eight-year-old twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, returning to school.

She suggested a united front and shared parenting goals with Albert when it comes to taking care of their children, revealing: ‘The first thing that seemed essential to me and my husband was to teach them to swim.’

Meanwhile Prince Albert told an Italian publication: ‘Charlène is always by my side. I don’t understand all these rumours which hurt me, about the fact that she lives elsewhere, in Switzerland, meetings by appointment to see us. These are lies.’ 

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  


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


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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