Prince Albert accused of indulging troubled wife’s ‘dangerous’ spending

Allegations are rocking the Monaco royal family this week that may lend credence to rumors that Prince Albert II has been paying his troubled wife, Princess Charlene, a lot of every money each year to stay with him.

French news outlets reported this week that 67-year-old Albert, the mega-wealthy ruler of this tiny, casino-rich Mediterranean principality gave his 46-year-old wife a generous allowance of $1.6 million a year, but that she still routinely overspent what was in her account, according to The Guardian, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail.

French media also reported that Albert, once known as the “playboy” prince, kept a separate bank account to hide payments to former girlfriends and two children who were born out of wedlock.

The allegations come from Claude Palmero, the former accountant for the House of Grimaldi, the family that has ruled Monaco since the 13th century and are among Europe’s glitziest royals.

For more than two decades, Palmero was Albert’s principal asset manager — until he was “unceremoniously” fired last summer over allegations that he anonymously ran a website that documented financial impropriety at the palace, The Guardian reported.

Unhappy over his dismissal, Palmero hasn’t just filed a lawsuit, he also seems bent on doing as much damage as possible to Albert and Charlene’s reputations, The Guardian said.

MONACO – JULY 02: Princess Charlene of Monaco wipes away a tear as she and Prince Albert II of Monaco leave Sainte Devote church after their religious wedding ceremony at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco on July 2, 2011 in Monaco.  (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images) 

Excerpts from Palmer’s five secret notebooks were published in two French newspapers, Le Monde and Libération, The Telegraph said. Palmero also spoke to Le Monde, explaining, “This whole affair revolves around the corruption I’d been denouncing with increasing force for years.”

The Guardian said that Palmero’s allegations are “shocking” even to people accustomed to the life-styles of the super-rich in Monaco, which occupies just 514 acres along the French Riviera.

“I think everyone knew their lifestyle was … glamorous,” said an employee of a company that supplies domestic staff to some of Monaco’s most wealthy residents, according to The Guardian. “(But) I’m not sure we knew they managed to get through quite that much. Even in a place that’s used to the way billionaires behave, it’s raised some eyebrows.”

Charlene’s extravagant spending allegedly included $931,000 to redecorate her office in her Monte Carlo palace, and another $900,000 to fix up her holiday villa in Corsica, reports said.

Palmero said he warned her that her spending had become “dangerous,” particularly after she demanded $70,000 in just one day.

“It’s crazy!” the accountant wrote. “I have no control over the princess’s spending.”

In 2019, he estimated that she had spent more than $16 million since her marriage to Albert, who has a personal fortunate of around $2 billion.

Palmero’s disclosures about Albert and Charlene’s spending represent the latest twist in the couple’s rollercoaster marriage. Back in 2022, a French gossip magazine alleged that Albert paid Charlene $12.5 million to stay with him.

Albert is the oldest child and only son of the late Prince Rainier II and his American wife, Princess Grace, who was better known as the radiant 1950s Hollywood star Grace Kelly. Before marrying Charlene in 2011, Albert’s playboy reputation grew over his scandalous affairs, including with a flight attendant, a German topless model and multiple other women. At least two of those affairs resulted in children

Charlene is a former swimming champion who represented South Africa at the 2000 Olympics. That’s the year she met Albert. They didn’t go public as a couple until 2006, then became engaged in 2010 and married in 2011 in a lavish $100 million celebration that was considered Monaco’s “biggest party in 55 years,” the Daily Mirror reported.

Prince Albert II of Monaco, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques stand with a message for Princess Charlene at the balcony of Monaco Palace during the celebrations marking Monacos National Day in Monaco, on November 19, 2021. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP) (Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images) 

Three years after marrying Albert, Charlene gave birth to twins gave Jacques and Gabriella. Palmero alleges that Albert allowed Charlene to spend more than $650,000 on their lavish baptism.

But the unhappiness in their relationship has long been the subject of fascination, the Daily Beast has reported. Charlene allegedly tried to flee Monaco three times before the wedding, at one point seeking sanctuary in South Africa’s embassy in Paris. She also wept openly on her wedding day.

The Telegraph cited rumors that the couple slept apart on their South African honeymoon — not just in separate beds but in separate hotels. French journalist Philippe Delorme compared the marriage unfavorably to the fairy tale wedding of Albert’s parents, Rainier and Grace. He said: “The reality is that Albert is a bit overweight, and much less glamorous than his father was. It feels like a love story of an old man and a young woman rather than two young lovers.”

Charlene also struggled to adjust to her new life, complaining that she was subject to jealousy from Monaco’s high society, and that no one related to her South African mentality and humor, The Telegraph said.

Charlene was absent from Monaco for much of 2021 and early 2022, staying first in South Africa and then at a clinic in Switzerland, recovering from what Page Six and other outlets reported was a long illness and exhaustion.

Palmero and his notebooks reveal that Albert began giving Charlene an allowance even before they married, making a  $750,000 payment to her in 2010.

Albert’s generosity to Charlene also extended to her family in South Africa, The Telegraph reported. Palmero said that  princess asked for, and received, close to $1 million for her brother, Sean Wittstock, to spend on his house.

Charlene, however, was not so generous with her staff, Palmero alleged. He said that most of her employees were immigrants, who were paid under the table. That includes her twins’ Filipino nannies who entered Monaco on tourist visas or false passports.

Palmero also kept track of Albert’s payments from a bank account that he allegedly kept hidden from Charlene, reports said. Some of those payments went to his ex-girlfriends and two children he fathered before he married Charlene.

According to Palmero’s records, Albert gave his ex-girlfriend Nicole Coste more than $1 million a year to fund her fashion business and bought her a flat that was to be in their son’s name, The Guardian said. Albert also purchased a $3 million apartment in New York City for his 31-year-old daughter from another relationship and gives her a quarterly allowance of $86,000.

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