Portrait of a princess bride: Charlene Wittstock's official biography unveiled

Charlene and Albert's love in pictures

While the eyes of the world are on a reserved young woman from Berkshire, who will in all likelihood one day become chatelaine of Buckingham Palace, the public is slowly discovering the intimate details of another amazing royal love story.

This time, the fairytale features a champion swimmer who dedicated herself single-mindedly to her sport and winning titles until a chance meeting with the prince of Monaco changed the course of her life.

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In an official biography published this week of Prince Albert's fiancée, Charlene Wittstock we learn that she was silver medallist at the Commowealth Games and swam for South Africa in the 2000 Olympics.

For Charlene, a Zimbabwean emigrant to South Africa, with her swimming instructor mum and salesman father, the moment when Cupid's arrow struck at a meet in Monte Carlo was unexpected to say the least.

"I was 22 and focused. I wasn't in the emotional place for a relationship. But the moment I met Albert I felt a profound sense of destiny," she said in an interview with Tatler magazine.

"I have been quoted as saying I felt weak at the knees. That is a slightly trite way of phrasing it, but it is true I knew he was the one".

It 11 years since that first encounter and the Olympian is still spellbound by her prince.

Years spent putting in long hours of training and chasing sporting glory have made her tough and disciplined, but when the former athlete speaks about her future husband she sounds like a giddy young woman.

 

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She told the publication: "He's the most charming generous person I've ever met. His patience knows no bounds and he is exceptionally caring.

"He has a unique ability to make everyone he comes into contact with feel special.

"He's the man I dreamed of. He's perfect for me in every way".

So perfect that she was prepared to change her life considerably to be with him.

Charlene moved to Monte Carlo in 2007, at first living in a small apartment by herself in the centre of town.

She also learnt French and set about making friends in the wealthy enclave – no small task for the down-to-earth African.

Binding the couple together was their interest humanitarian work, the environment and sports.

The Monegasque royal has also competed in the Olympics in bobsleigh and although initially "sceptical", he was converted into an avid cricket watcher and now "loves" the game.

Meanwhile, Charlene has always taken an interest in charity work, teaching disadvantaged kids and raising money for the Special Olympics.

She has big plans for the principality, with hopes to harness the wealth for which her adopted home is known "to address a multitude of global problems".

"We are so privileged to be living here. Now it's our time to give back," she insists.

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To fulfil her emerging role, she has reluctantly learned all about fashion, aware that her sleek wardrobe is one of her best weapons in drawing attention to favoured causes.

And it's not only the prince that is impressed with her commitment. His friends such as Mark Thomas, who competed with him in the Olympics, has nothing but praise for her.

"She's a truly wonderful human being who has handled the pressures of the relationship with dignity.

"She has a vibrant personality and she will be fantastic for Monaco. She is a true people person."

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