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Sun Apr 26 10:14:03 SAST 2015

Charlene Wittstock, our green princess

Werner Swart | 26 June, 2011 01:212 Comments
Princess-in-waiting, environmental crusader and former Olympian Charlene Wittstock as she features in a picture spread and interview in the latest issue of Vogue magazine. To read Vogue's story, go got to AmericanVogue.com Picture: VOGUE/PATRICK DEMARCHELIER

This week the eyes of the world will be on South Africa's princess bride, Charlene Wittstock, as she marries Monaco's Prince Albert Grimaldi II.

Wittstock will officially become Princess of Monaco, a position that will enable her to carry out her lifelong dream of saving the environment.

Today the Sunday Times can reveal how, more than 20 years ago, she penned an article for her school yearbook expressing concern over the environment.

Now the 33-year-old former Olympic swimmer will get the opportunity to make a positive impact.

Wittstock and her future husband - the only royal to ever reach both the North and the South poles - have publicly stated that she will put humanitarian and environmental work at the top of her agenda.

Albert is known for backing charitable causes and, through his foundation, supports projects which focus on climate change and developing renewable energies.

Wittstock shares his passion. In an article in the Tom Newby School yearbook of 1991 - entitled "What's happening to our world?" - the then 12-year-old wrote: "Imagine the year 2000 and our ozone layer has vanished. There would be no food, water or clean air to breathe and, most of all, no plants, trees and no animals, just a dry, dense, cold earth.

"Say your child had a fever, you would go to any trouble to bring the fever down, wouldn't you? Now our planet has a fever and she is burning up - what will you do?"

Last year Albert said in an interview: "Charlene has a very strong personality and I have no doubt of her desire to get involved in things alongside me ... she is already committed to humanitarian causes such as the Born Free Foundation, the Special Olympics and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and wants to intensify her involvement in many other areas."

However, it won't be easy to eclipse the principality's ruler in terms of environmental issues and leading from the front. He is the only known head of state and royal to have been to both poles. He visited the North Pole by dog sled in April 2006 to highlight awareness of global warming and industrial pollution.

In January 2009, he went on a three-week scientific voyage to the Antarctic and reached the South Pole in the company of explorer Mike Horn. The trip was captured in the documentary Antarctic 2009: Earth on Alert.

To underscore their commitment to the environment, even the wedding car will be as "green" as possible (see box).

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