Princess Charlene's two-year health battle that separated her from her family

Prince Albert's wife wasn't seen in public for many months

Princess Charlene celebrates her 45th birthday on 25 January 2022, and as well as marking another year around the sun, it is likely the royal also toasted her good health after several years of illness.

Charlene spent much of 2021 in South Africa due to an illness that meant she was unable to return home to Monaco. She went without seeing her two children, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques, as well as her husband Prince Albert II, including on their tenth wedding anniversary.

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Charlene returned to Monaco in early November 2021, but seemingly continued to struggle with her health for many months. Amid cancelled appearances, the Palais Princier formally announced the royal was taking "time to recover" from her recent "poor health", while Prince Albert confirmed that she was receiving treatment in a facility "outside of Monaco".

Luckily for the royal, her health took a turn for the better as 2022 progressed and she returned to public life, with her husband celebrating her health.

Speaking to PEOPLE magazine, Prince Albert, 64, said: "I'm really proud of my wife. Charlene's doing really well. As you can see for yourself, she's been active in any number of different events. Charlene's engaging more in public life and looking after things that she's passionate about.

Princess Charlene returned to public life in 2022

"She's really enjoying doing things together and with the kids, so this year is ending on a very, a very high note. We're truly thrilled about how things are," he continued.

Referring to his wife's health, Albert added: "Last year was a very tough year for her — and the beginning of this year. And she's really turned it around in an incredible way."

What illness did Princess Charlene have?

Princess Charlene collapsed on 1 September 2020 due to complications following one of several surgeries for a severe and ongoing ear, nose and throat (ENT) infection.

She was rushed to Netcare Alberlito Hospital, and the Palace released the following statement to People: "On the night of September 1, Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco was taken to hospital after becoming ill due to complications from a serious ENT infection.

"Her Highness is being closely followed by her medical team, who say her condition is reassuring." Charlene was reportedly scheduled to undergo another surgery to treat the illness that day, but it was pushed back.

Princess Charlene spent time away from her young children

She reportedly went in for surgery in mid-May 2021, before a second operation in June, and a "final" surgery in October. Prince Albert confirmed in late October 2021 that she would be heading home to Monaco and their two children soon.

"She is much better," he told French publication Point de Vue. "This last operation which concerned the nasal septum went very well. We will be able to consider her return very soon. And I can tell you that she will be in Monaco long before the national holiday."

Following her ENT infection, Charlene suffered a bout of exhaustion, which she recovered from away from home.

READ: Why Prince Albert and Princess Charlene's attendance at King Charles' coronation is unexpected

"I can say she was suffering incredible fatigue," Prince Albert told People. "She hadn't slept well in a number of days and she wasn't eating at all well. She has lost a lot of weight, which made her vulnerable to other potential ailments. A cold or the flu or God help us, Covid."

He also dismissed further speculation about Charlene's health, telling the magazine: "Because I know there are rumours out there, let me say: This is not Covid. And it's not cancer-related. It's not a personal relationship issue. And if you want to discuss another speculation, it isn't related to plastic surgery or facial work at all."