PLS Pool/Getty Prince Albert, Prince Jacques, Princess Gabriella and Princess Charlene
While Princess Charlene remains in South Africa recovering from surgery, the months away from her husband, Prince Albert, and their 6-year-old twins, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques, has generated impending split rumors in the European press, but a source tells PEOPLE there is hope the family will be reunited soon.
"She'll never leave her kids," says a source close to Charlene, suggesting she believes the princess will return to Monaco as soon as her health issues are resolved. The palace has confirmed to PEOPLE that the prince and the twins — who visited South Africa in early June — plan to return the near future, but they are currently monitoring health, safety and political concerns in the country before a firm date is set.
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The princess, 43, traveled to her homeland in early May to engage in activities in support of her South Africa Foundation, but in late June she revealed that she would be forced to miss her 10th wedding anniversary with Albert, 63, due to additional surgery required after complications arose from a prior procedure.
In mid-July, she went into further detail about her ear, nose and throat troubles with the South African outlet Channel24, explaining, "I was instructed by the doctors that I can't fly yet because I'm unable to equalise my ears and therefore cannot fly above 20,000 feet ... due to the pressure."
The former Olympic swimmer added, "I miss my husband, my babies — Jacqui and Bella — and my doggies terribly, [but] I can't force a recovery of bone and membrane — it takes time."
DAVID STOCKMAN/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images Prince Albert and Princess Charlene
Meanwhile, European tabloids, including the German magazine Bunte and France's Paris Match, have been delving into chatter that Charlene and Albert's separation goes far deeper than the palace is acknowledging.
"The princess 'has, for the time being, in reality, no intention of returning,'" according to Paris Match's sources, while Bunte has written that Charlene has been house-hunting near Johannesburg.
Paris Match also speculated on the princess's changing appearance and attributed her relocation to larger tensions within the court back in Monaco: "'She was full of good will, but she quickly felt judged and misunderstood,' says one of her friends in the Principality. 'So she closed up to protect herself.'"
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Prince Albert, Princess Charlene, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella
Albert's appearance at the Tokyo Olympics has also fueled rumors in the past week. Though the prince is a longtime member of the International Olympic Committee, some tabloids have questioned why he traveled to Tokyo for 10 days alone when the Olympics have played a prominent role of the couple's history — both competed in past Olympics, and the pair has been a regular presence at numerous ceremonies, including when they first took the romance public at the 2004 Winter Games in Turin, Italy. (In 2016, citing concerns over the raging Zika virus, Albert told PEOPLE that he would attend the Rio Games solo while Charlene stayed home with their 19-month-old twins.)
For now, Charlene has not painted a rosy picture of the last several months, calling them "trying" and "painful," but she continues to offer occasional insights to this tumultuous time — and a glimmer of hope for the family's future.
"My daily conversations with Albert and my children help me keep my spirits up a lot, but I miss their presence very much," she told PEOPLE in a statement in June. "I can't wait for us to be together."
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