Last year was one of the toughest periods in Princess Charlene of Monaco’s life. Not only was the royal severely ill, and separated from her family for months because she could not fly, her marriage was again in the spotlight, with speculation rife about her future in Monaco. Everything she does creates a headline. Now, as the world awaits her return to public life, with the palace’s latest statement in December saying she was still recovering, without mentioning the details of her condition, a look back at the 43-year-old’s journey so far reveals much hardship and loneliness. Here’s how an ordinary girl made the brave move to become a princess and faced many challenges along the way. Meet Monaco’s royal twins, Gabriella and Jacques (but who gets the throne?) A basic life, at first In 2007 Charlene moved from South Africa to Monaco. Her prince had lured her to his country and made it clear he wanted her as his future princess. But first she had to get a taste for his home and that meant leaving everything she knew behind her. She didn’t move into the palace with her fiancé Prince Albert as expected. Instead, she told Vogue she was living in a small flat in the centre of town. It was there that she got to see Monaco as one of her people. Jealousy and isolation When Charlene first moved to Monaco she did not exactly have the warmest reception. In 2011, the same year she married her prince, Charlene admitted that she had made no deep connections with people in her new home country. She said she had been “subject to jealously” but admitted that it “came with the territory”. At the time she said there were only two people she considered her friends and she remained connected with her family. In an interview with Vogue, she described her entry into Monaco as “sometimes overwhelming” and said she tried hard to please people, at times losing her sense of self. First in line: 5 European princesses set to become queens An “escape” As a princess, the scrutiny is always present. And when it comes to Charlene and her husband, there’s a heightened level of awareness because of Albert’s controversial romantic past and rumours their relationship has been on the rocks. Roc Agel was given to Grace Kelly by Prince Rainier and is just 20 minutes outside Monaco. Albert and Charlene hold an informal garden party there every year, but it is also the place Charlene said she goes “to escape”. There she can wear jeans, go on hikes and embrace the simple things like gardening and feeding animals. Are the British royals trying to distract us from Prince Andrew’s scandal? A tomboy becomes a fashion muse She was used to wearing swimsuits, googles and a cap as a former Olympic swimmer. When she met Prince Albert she was introduced to a life of glamour and luxury. She told Vogue her first Red Cross ball was a “baptism of fire”. She borrowed a dress from a pal, did her own hair and make-up, and painted her nails red. She adapted quickly – Giorgio Armani asked her to be his ambassador for two years and she said she quickly learnt to understand what suits her. Over the years, Charlene has become a fashion icon of sorts, with her adaptable sense of style and bold choices celebrated by many. Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .