Princess Charlene joined the Monegasque Royal Family in 2011, when she married the Prince Albert of Monaco in a private civil ceremony inside the Prince’s Palace before a religious ceremony the following day. Reports over the years have suggested the South Africa-born former swimmer struggled with the pressure of her royal role, speculation further exacerbated as she was forced to stay away from court for over eight months this year due to ill health. But Charlene has been able to always count on the support of one of her sisters-in-law, Princess Stephanie, who has stepped up to help her twins, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, cope with her absence.
An insider close to the royals told French weekly Voice the pair has grown closer thanks to a common passion.
They said: “The passion for animals unites them.
“It’s a subject they both care a lot about and that has allowed them to get close and discover each other.”
According to Vanity Fair Italy, the pair found further common ground over their tendency to rebel against tradition.
JUST IN: Princess Charlene of Monaco replaced as Prince Albert’s sister takes over once again
Princess Stephanie was known for her fairly rebellious character and her refusal to settle down until she married former bodyguard Daniel Ducruet.
The pair welcomed two children, Louis and Pauline, who are currently 15th and 16th in the line of succession.
Stephanie and Daniel’s union was short-lived and the pair divorced one year after tying the knot.
Princess Charlene herself allegedly doubted her union with Prince Albert, with reports arising shortly after the ceremony claiming she had been in tears as she exchanged vows.
READ MORE: Princess Charlene to miss twins’ birthday as Prince Albert insists marriage not in danger
A relative of Princess Charlene had previously claimed the royal had “shut down” as she grew feeling “misunderstood” at the Monegasque court.
In November, Stephanie was seen with the twins as they all attended Monaco’s National Day with Prince Albert and Princess Caroline.
The Monaco rule admitted Jacques and Gabriella have been struggling with their mother’s absence but that the family remains “united” in trying to show both love and support.
He told Paris Match: “When one of the parents is away, the other parent must be there to do double the work.
“Jacques and Gabriella have suffered a lot because of their mum’s absence all these months and having to say goodbye again is painful to them, who are still so young.
“But we’ve always been a very united family and, even if no one can take the place of their mother, we try not to let them lack all the love they deserve and need.”