She may be a royal, but Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco is still a South African at heart – with rooibos tea and local skincare products on her shopping list in Durban.
Climate change and charity were high on the agenda of the royal couple when the princess jetted in to Durban this week with her husband, His Serene Highness Prince Albert of Monaco, who was due to address the COP17 Climate Change Conference.
Even though they had been travelling for more than 12 hours, and despite the high Durban humidity, the prince and princess looked relaxed and happy, posing for the media contingent who thronged the entrance to The Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga upon their arrival.
Currently setting international trends with her impeccable fashion sense and casual, understated elegance, Princess Charlene was dressed in muted grey with a dusted pink pashmina, while the prince sported a dark navy suit and classic white shirt.
The princess, who has just attended Paris Fashion Week, takes advice from the likes of Karl Lagerfield and Giorgio Armani and features constantly in women’s magazines across the world. But she is also known for her down-to-earth attitude and love of all sport – a passion she shares with the prince.
Lunching with Durban friends on the verandah at the Oyster Box, there was a lot of animated discussion over the Rugby World Cup, while the princess mentioned that she was hoping to get some shopping done, including buying a few boxes of rooibos tea to take home to the palace.
She’s also known to favour South African skincare products, ranking them among the best in the world.
From the Climate Change Conference in Durban, the royal couple was whisked down to Cape Town for the launch of the Polaris Climate Change Observatory on Thursday.
Prince Albert is the official patron of the Polaris Climate Change Observatory and the event was to introduce a hi-tech, futuristic building at the Waterfront which, when it starts operations in 2014, will act as a climate change observatory.
While guests sipped champagne, ate oysters and mingled while awaiting the arrival of the prince and princess, the media were having an altogether different experience. Camped behind a cordon, the media were barred from interviewing guests by a burly security guard and although trays of snacks made it over the barrier, the oyster platter never quite made it there – although someone did send over cans of cool drink when asked if there were any beverages.
Rumours have been circulating again this week that the princess is pregnant. However, if there is a baby bump, it was not noticeable from the stylish clothes she wore in Durban, while in Cape Town her figure was concealed beneath a sleek camel coat, buttoned up against the cold and wind. A pale blue dress peeped out from beneath the coat. The prince, meanwhile, wore a navy blazer, and red tie.
When some members of the media moved forward when the speeches started, in order to hear better, a security guard moved the cordon and placed it in front of them – separating them from guests again.
The positioning of the cordon also meant that none of the media could see the video presentation being made on television screens around the outdoor venue. Organisers, however, did say that the screens, which had been positioned to be in front of the crowd, had earlier in the day tumbled over the balcony in the fierce wind.
In his short speech, the Prince said he had heard a “lot about climate change” at COP17 in Durban and that he hoped the observatory “would help people understand the workings of climate change”.
Earlier in the day, the couple had met Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu where they handed over a cheque for R1 million to the Giving Organisation Trust – of which the princess is a patron. - Independent on Saturday