Princess Charlene of Monaco was a pillar of support for Prince Harry while he was navigating the early stages of his public relationship with Meghan Markle, new claims have revealed.
The princess, who is married to Albert II, Prince of Monaco, has battled health issues after disappearing to South Africa for six months while suffering an ear, nose and throat infection and recently returned home to Monaco.
Despite her own hardships, Princess Charlene, 43, provided much-needed support to the Duke of Sussex during a difficult period in 2016 - just two weeks after his relationship to Meghan was leaked to the press, according to the Daily Express.
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Charlene accompanied Prince Harry to an England vs South Africa rugby match at Twickenham Stadium in 2016, an event the duke had reportedly been expected to attend with new girlfriend Meghan in their first joint public appearance.
The royal instead went with Charlene, who represented South Africa in swimming at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
Just prior to their joint appearance, Prince Harry had put out a strongly worded statement via his communications chief declaring he was "worried" about Meghan's "safety".
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"Prince Harry is worried about Ms. Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her," the 2016 statement read.
"It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms Markle should be subjected to such a storm."
Charlene and Harry were pictured smiling together in the stands during the November 2016 match.
The duke attended the game in his capacity as the vice patron of the Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League.
Princess Charlene "almost died" while in South Africa after complications relating to a surgery, a friend has now claimed.
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Last week, she was admitted to a treatment facility outside of Monaco after husband Prince Albert said she was suffering "profound general fatigue...exhaustion, both emotional and physical".
Charlene was finally reunited with Prince Albert and their children Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella in Monte Carlo on November 8.
The mother-of-two had been unable to return to the principality earlier due to complications on the advice of doctors.
A friend of Charlene, who remained anonymous, has told Page Six the Prince's Palace was "downplaying" the seriousness of the princess' condition.
"It is unfair that she is being portrayed as having some kind of mental or emotional issue," the source told the publication.
"We don't know why the palace is downplaying that she almost died in South Africa."
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