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Zarah has fond memories of meeting Prince Albert of Monaco, whose marriage to Princess Charlene has been the subject of tabloid scrutiny.
It was 2014 and the recording artist was at a gala function in Monte Carlo with Roger Moore and his family.
“He was very warm and welcoming,” she told Fox News. “And he has a great sense of humor. I enjoyed his company from the beginning. He’s very down to earth and spoke immediately of his love for the arts, film and theater. That runs through his family and his love for Monaco.”
But the evening was more than just a glamorous night out. Zarah’s husband, Eugene Maillard, was the CEO of Very Special Arts (VSA) at the Kennedy Center, which aims to ensure that the arts are accessible to all. He was formerly the executive director of the Grammy Foundation. The couple was in the process of potentially collaborating on a project with Albert. The idea was potentially a filmed concert that would raise awareness of global dance among youth. However, Maillard died in 2020 before it came to fruition.
Author & TV personality Zarah with Prince Albert II of Monaco at the Annual Ambassador’s Club Gala in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
(Courtesy of Zarah)
“Albert is actively involved in partnerships about the arts,” she explained. “He also has a love for the environment and wants to protect and preserve the planet. That includes saving marine wildlife. He’s donated millions of dollars for research and studies concerning the environment. He’s also taken an active role within the Princess Grace Foundation. He wants to make a difference and he’s never forgotten the theatrical legacy of his mother and what that meant to her.”
According to reports, the 63-year-old is one of the world’s leading philanthropists dedicated to ocean conservation and sustainability. As of September 2021, it was revealed that the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation has invested nearly $99 million to fund almost 700 projects associated with the environment.
But the focus these days has been on Albert’s marriage, not his philanthropic work. It was in May when Charlene, 43, traveled to her family’s home country of South Africa. Soon after, she developed ear, nose and throat complications from a previous medical procedure. She was grounded in South Africa for six months away from her family as she underwent several corrective surgeries.
On Nov. 8, a spokesperson for the royal confirmed to Fox News that Charlene had arrived in France after an overnight flight from South Africa. She was greeted by Albert, as well as their twins and Albert’s younger sister, Princess Stephanie.
Princess Charlene of Monaco, a former Olympic swimmer, has been faced with health woes this year. The news has led to tabloid scrutiny.
(Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
But just days after her arrival, Albert and several members of Charlene’s family agreed with her decision to seek medical care. At the time, the prince told People magazine that Charlene was experiencing “exhaustion, both emotional and physical” and was advised several weeks of clinical care.
The months-long separation sparked persistent rumors of an impending split, with sources making allegations to multiple European outlets.
Zarah pointed out that the European press has long had a fascination with the so-called “Grimaldi curse,” which took flight after the death of Albert’s mother, Princess Grace, in 1982 from injuries she sustained in a car crash at age 52. According to the legend, no member of the Grimaldi family will find true happiness in a marriage. She said the royals aren’t fazed by this fable as their priority has always been on the family’s wellbeing.
The rumors of an impending split intensified when Albert attended the Tokyo Olympics solo. It’s noted that Albert is a longtime member of the International Olympic Committee.
Prince Albert II of Monaco with his children Princess Gabriella of Monaco and Prince Jacques of Monaco appear at the Palace balcony during the Monaco National Day Celebrations on Nov, 19, 2021, in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
(Photo by Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
According to Zarah, it’s not unusual for Albert and Charlene to carry out engagements on their own. It’s something she’s witnessed firsthand and suggested it’s simply innuendo from the press. Despite the scrutiny, she believes the couple has been graceful during the ordeal.
Albert has even spoken out to People magazine to dismiss the “appalling” rumors.
“Of course it affects her, of course, it affects me,” he told the outlet in September. “Misreading events is always detrimental. … We’re an easy target, easily hit, because we’re in the public eye a lot.”
Zarah said Albert’s willingness to speak publicly about his wife’s health battle comes from his American background. While he favors privacy, it’s important for him to also set the record straight concerning his family.
Prince Albert of Monaco’s mother is late former American actress Grace Kelly.
(Photo by Paramount Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Zarah said she wishes the press would focus more on Albert’s work as a royal and how he’s determined to keep the legacy of his parents alive.
“I remember we were at his mother’s summer home,” she recalled. “We had a meeting there for a film project. It was very casual. Again, he was very warm and welcoming. He personally gave us a tour and showed us around the house. I remember him being very gracious. I can’t speak enough of that because he’s down to earth. He comes across as a friend. And I think that’s what makes him special.”
“You don’t feel all the heaviness of royal aides and protocols,” she continued. “Even when he goes to a local bar or restaurant, he’s very simple. He’s like any other patron who says hello and chats with you. I think it’s a testament to who he is as a person. I’ve always found that refreshing. He made my husband and I feel completely comfortable and at ease. He loves the arts, the environment, children – and he’s also a good drummer!”
Today, Zarah is involved with “B InTuneCARES,” which she described as a global media initiative for youth. She also wrote a book titled “Diamonds are For Cocktails” about the decadence of the French Riviera.
Princess Charlene previously told Africa Radio 702’s host Mandy Wiener that she "cannot force healing."
(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
As for Charlene, she is recovering. Most recently, she took to Instagram and wished her twins a happy birthday.
The celebrated athlete married the prince on July 1, 2011. The wedding was a spectacle, costing an estimated $70 million for the four-day event. They welcomed twins in 2014.
Their planned public anniversary celebration was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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