One day after Prince Albert revealed his wife, Princess Charlene, is not in Monaco, he shared her location: a treatment facility, as she is suffering from "exhaustion, both emotional and physical," he told PEOPLE.
After returning home from South Africa a few weeks ago — she was "grounded" there after recovering from a prior infection and then had to undergo several procedures — "it became pretty evident that she was unwell."
"She was clearly exhausted, physically and emotionally. She was overwhelmed and couldn't face official duties, life in general or even family life," he explained.
"Obviously there were consequences of her different surgeries and the procedures she underwent in the last few months," the royal continued. "That certainly was a factor, but at this point I prefer not to comment further. I can say she was suffering incredible fatigue. She hadn't slept well in a number of days and she wasn't eating at all well. She has lost a lot of weight, which made her vulnerable to other potential ailments. A cold or the flu or God help us, COVID."
"Because I know there are rumors out there, let me say: This is not COVID," he stated. "And it's not cancer-related. It's not a personal relationship issue. And if you want to discuss another speculation, it isn't related to plastic surgery or facial work at all."
Albert and her family spoke with her about seeking treatment "elsewhere in Europe."
"I sat her down with her brothers and a sister-in-law," he recalled. "She had already made her decision, and we only wanted her to confirm it in front of us. She wanted this. She already knew the best thing to do was to go and have a rest and have a real medically framed treatment. And not in Monaco. For privacy reasons, it would have to be someplace outside of Monaco."
The blonde beauty's kids, Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques, "knew that she was tired. That she was not quite herself. And then I told them that she needed some time to rest, and that she is now somewhere not too far away, that we can go see her one day. They understood that."
"They know that she's going to talk to them very soon. They miss her, of course, but they understand. Kids at that age they understand," he said.
Eventually, the twins "will visit her there."
He added, "I can't give you any kind of time frame on that. Not in the next few days, certainly but whenever we get the medical go-ahead. You know these kind of treatments, these rest periods, are usually several weeks. I cannot give you any set period at this time, we will see."
Albert also made it clear that this has nothing to do with his marriage. "I'm probably going to say this several times, but this has nothing to do with our relationship. I want to make that very clear. These are not problems within our relationship; not with the relationship between a husband and wife. It's of a different nature," he said. "She needs privacy; as a family we need privacy. She needs time to rest in the best environment possible. Even if we as a family are public figures. When public figures have health issues, they deserve privacy just like any one else. I hope everybody will understand that. Give us the time that we need; give her the time that she needs to heal and get better and be back with her family in Monaco."
"Charlene never asked to have these problems — but they are there, unfortunately, and we need space and privacy to address them. So I beg everyone to understand that and please leave my family alone for the coming weeks," he added.
Despite his wife's setback, he is trying to remain upbeat and positive. "This is usually the busiest time of year. I don't have time to be going around with a too-sad face. I'm okay. Of course I'm saddened by the situation, but I know she's in a good place now. That she'll recover and that this is the best place for her," he expressed. "We have the support and love and friendship around us from these people and by the citizens of Monaco. I know we'll get through this."