Princess Charlene of Monaco hasn’t returned to her royal duties and is still in a treatment facility. Her illness hasn’t been named by royal officials, but it may have stemmed from health troubles she experienced earlier this year during a trip to South Africa.

In May, Charlene, 44, traveled to her home country and wound up staying there for six months. Complications from a prior medical procedure prevented her from flying because of ear, nose, and throat issues. Instead of returning to her husband, Prince Albert, 63, and their 7-year-old twins, she stayed in South Africa and underwent several corrective surgeries over the summer. 

Charlene returned to Monaco in November, but hasn’t resumed royal duties or made official appearances. She was absent at Monaco’s National Day celebration, an event that was attended by her husband and children. The twins, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques, held signs during the celebration that read “We Miss You Mommy,” and “We Love You Mommy.”

The event was intended as a national celebration of Princess Charlene’s homecoming. It also included elements to commemorate Albert and Charlene’s tenth wedding anniversary. But instead of celebrating with her family and countrymen, Charlene entered a long-term treatment facility.

Royal reports have been vague about both the type of treatment Princess Charlene is seeking and the kind of facility she is in. Prince Albert said only that she was seeking treatment for extreme mental and physical exhaustion. He and several members of Charlene’s immediate family all agreed with her decision to seek medical care soon after she returned home. 

Speculation abounds about what that is code for – is she having a nervous breakdown, battling a substance abuse problem, or divorcing the prince? We don’t know for sure, but her dad is on her side.

Charlene’s father, Michael Wittstock, believes his daughter’s past as an Olympic swimmer instilled a strong sense of perseverance within her that will help her get through the upcoming difficult months. 

“Based on the way she used to train, I know she’s tough and will get through this and come out much stronger,” he told South Africa’s You magazine. 

Hearing about Princess Charlene of Monaco’s ongoing health issues got me wondering: Where is Monaco? And what is it? 

Monaco is a sovereign city-state, also known as a “microstate,” located on the French Riviera in Western Europe. It is bordered by France (a real country) on three sides and the Mediterranean Sea on one side. It has a population of about 38,000 people packed into less than one square mile and is known as one of the wealthiest and most expensive places in the world. 

Over 32% of Monaco’s population are millionaires. It’s home to the world-famous Monte Carlo casino, but residents are banned from gambling. Only tourists and foreigners can bet on the cards, dice, and slot machines. The city-state has the second highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world. 

Over 75% of Monaco’s residents are foreign-born. Which makes sense, because the gene pool can only get so deep with a surface area of less than one square mile.