Although she came from a sporting background, she would go on to fill the royal shoes of a former famous Monacoian Princess Grace Kelly, who was married to Prince Ranier III before she tragically died in 1982 in a car accident.
The Princess has become a world-famous figure, drawing comparisons to Diana, Princess of Wales for her stylish fashion sense.
Princess Charlene was born in Zimbabwe, then known as Rhodesia, to parents Michael and Lynette Wittstock in Bulawayo.
She moved with her Protestant family to South Africa aged 11-years old.
The Wittstock family had strong roots in the country, after Charlene’s great-great-grandparents emigrated there from Germany to escape hardship in 1861.
Her mother Lynette had a strong background in sports, having been a professional diver and swimming coach, which lay the foundations for Charlene’s succssful sporting career.
Following medal wins at the Commonwealth Games in 1998, the All African Games in 1999 and a further Commonwealth placement in 2002, she placed 5th as part of the South African Medley team.
After a sixth-place win at the FINA championships in 2002, she left her team, the Seagulls, in Durban and joined with the Tuks Swimming Club at the University of Pretoria.
In April 2007, after a short hiatus, she became South African swimming champion in the 50 metre backstroke and came in third place behind Australia and Brazil.
However, in 2008 – during the run up to the Beijing Summer Games, she suffered serious injury that looked to finish her blossoming career.
She would not qualify to take part at the Beijing Games that year – but she had her sights set on a much bigger prize.
In among the highs and lows of sporting glory, she met her future husband Prince Albert II, when he watched her swimming in 2000.
The couple shared passions in the areas of environment preservation and Olympic pride.
Following the public announcement of their relationship at the Olympic opening ceremony of 2006, the couple moved in together and would eventually announce their engagement June 2010.
The Prince had earned himself a reputation as something of a Playboy and in the run up to their engagement, rumours of a fraught relationship circulated.
The media drew comparisons to the Prince’s chequered past and claimed that she was looking to “escape” back to her native homeland of South Africa.
But the Princess was undeterred and proceeded to marry into royalty, with the couple officially wedding on July 1, 2011.
She even changed from Protestant to Catholic faith, even though this was not required of her to be a member of Monaco’s royal family, and even learnt to speak French.
The royal couple have been happily married for seven years.
Since making the jump from sport to royalty, Charlene also became a mother, giving birth to four-year-old twins Princess Gabriella and heir to the throne, Prince Jacques, on December 10, 2014.