Lynette Wittstock, whose daughter, Charlene, is engaged to the Prince of Monaco, spoke briefly yesterday with the South African newspaper, the Citizen. She said the family was "thrilled" about the announcement. "I am ecstatic, my daughter is finally getting hitched, we like him very much."
She said the family had been "advised not to disclose any details to the press regarding the engagement and wedding plans."
In an interview with a French newspaper, Prince Albert said the wedding will take place in the Summer of 2011.
Mrs. Woodstock said her husband, Mike, was also pleased with the news, but was a "bit stressed out" because of the expected media onslaught. Even Charlene's younger brother, Sean, said he was happy for his sister. "Everyone is happy about the news.
Prince Albert called Charlene's father, Michael, just before 4 p.m., on Tuesday to ask, formally, for Charlene's hand in marriage. Michael told a local reporter: "He called me so I could give him the blessing to put the ring on her finger. He called me just before kick-off [before South Africa's final World Cup match] and I wanted to get the whole over done with [so I could watch the competition."]
Charlene's family live in Benoni, South Africa. Michael Wittstock describes his future son-in-law as a "nice chap."
Charlene did not qualify for South Africa's 2008 swim team. She was already living full time in Monaco.
Despite reports to the contrary, Charlene Wittstock was not a school teacher before she moved to Monaco. The English translation of the official engagement announcement said she worked with youth. She left school at 16 to concentrate on swimming. Backstroke was her preferred stroke. She did not attend university, and she never taught school.
Charlene was a member of South Africa's 4x100 medley team at the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney. A shoulder injury kept Charlene out of the pool for 18 months. She returned to competitive swimming in April 2007, where she finished third in 50m backstroke final at the Telkom SA National Aquatic Championships with a time of 30.16 seconds. Swimmers from Australia and Brazil finished ahead of Charlene, but her position as the first South African in the race allowed her to regain her position as South Africa;s 50m backstroke champion.
At the time, Charlene, then 29, wanted to continue to swim, and compete at the 2008 Olymouc games in China, which would "be her swansong."
She had held the backstroke record three years earlier. "I can't believe it. I had no idea," she said, after she emerged from the pool, and learned the results.
Charlene and Prince Albert first met in 2000 at the Monaco International Swim Meet, where she won the 200m backstroke, but did not begin dating until several years later. By 2006, there were rumors of an impending engagement after they appeared together at the Opening ceremonies at the Winter Games in Turin.
Protocol would not allow Charlene to discuss her romance, but she did believe the media were being respectful. "I feel now that they respect the fact that I have a career, and I need my space. At first it was different (dealing with media questions) but everything has settled now."
At the time, Wittstock said she would continue to swim in Europe, "hoping to better her times."
"I have a year left of competitive swimming, and I just want to be the best I can be in that time. After that I want to get involved in charity work, and development work with athlete's commissions."
Charlene was raised Protestant, but she has since converted to the Roman Catholic faith. She has also had French lessons as well as history lessons about Monaco. The couple's civil ceremony will take place at the palace, and will be followed by church service at Monaco's Cathedral.
In his interview with Nice-Matin, Prince Albert said of his future wife:
Sports built her values, and she has a strong personality. Her interest in humanitarian causes, especially those touching children, is an expression of her great sensitivity and openness to others."
She "loves Monaco, has a good understanding of it" and "will become involved in its life."