Prince Albert Tells PEOPLE Princess Charlene Is in a Treatment Facility: 'She Realized She Needed Help'

"She had already made her decision, and we only wanted her to confirm it in front of us," Monaco's Prince Albert says of a family intervention-style meeting

Princess Charlene is receiving treatment in a facility "outside of Monaco," her husband, Prince Albert, tells PEOPLE exclusively.

The decision to seek medical care just days after her return to Monaco was made jointly by the couple, assisted by Charlene's brothers. In an exclusive interview, Monaco's sovereign prince tells PEOPLE the 43-year-old princess is suffering profound "exhaustion, both emotional and physical." Dismissing a variety of rumors, he says her recovery will require clinical care lasting several weeks at minimum.

Charlene's return to Monaco 11 days ago after six months in South Africa "went pretty well in the first few hours, and then it became pretty evident that she was unwell," says Albert, 63.

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One week after sharing a photo on Nov. 8 of her "happy day" reuniting with Albert and their 6-year-old twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, she announced she was pulling out of Monaco's National Day festivities on Nov. 19, citing "profound general fatigue."

Princess Charlene of Monaco
Princess Charlene. Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Addressing ongoing rumors that the couple are in the midst of a marriage crisis, he says, "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."

Prince Albert II of Monaco and Princess Charlene of Monaco
Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco. PLS Pool/Getty Images

Her current state, he says, is the result "of several factors which are private matters." He adds, "she was clearly exhausted, physically and emotionally. She was overwhelmed and couldn't face official duties, life in general or even family life."

The princess had been "grounded," as she previously put it, in South Africa since early May due to an ENT infection which necessitated a number of corrective surgeries over her six-month absence.

"Obviously there were consequences of her different surgeries and the procedures she underwent in the last few months," says Albert. "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."

Charlene's prolonged absence from Monaco caused the princess to miss her 10th wedding anniversary and gave rise to numerous reports concerning a rift in the couple's marriage as well as speculation concerning the true nature and degree of her medical issues. The couple consistently denied these tabloid reports. Since the unexpected news of her withdrawal from public life broke on Tuesday, the stories have resurfaced.

"Because I know there are rumors out there, let me say: This is not COVID," says Albert. "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."

Seeking treatment "elsewhere in Europe" was a solution, he says, that the princess already favored. The final decision-making process involved an intervention-style meeting with family members. Following his return from an overnight trip to Dubai last Sunday, the prince recalls, "I sat her down with her brothers and a sister-in-law.

"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."

Princess Charlene Shares A Smiling Shot of Herself On Instagram
Princess Charlene in a photo from her Instagram on October 2. Princess Charlene/Instagram

The process "went very well," he says. "She was very calm and very understanding. She realized herself that she needed help. You can't force anyone to understand that they need treatment, they have to accept that themselves."

"She was already in favor of it. We knew that. We only wanted it confirmed in front of us. We wanted to tell her that we love her so much, and that we were there for her, and that the most important aspect for her is her health That she shouldn't worry about anything else. That we all love her, that her children love her, and that we only want the best for her."

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Of Gabriella and Jacques, he says, "we'll visit her there. 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."

Noting the couple's unprecedented statement on Tuesday asking for privacy after announcing Charlene's temporary withdrawal from public duty, he says, "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."

Prince Albert II of Monaco and Princess Charlene of Monaco with their children Prince Jacques of Monaco and Princess Gabriella of Monaco
Prince Albert, Princess Charlene and their twins Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques on Monaco National Day in 2018. Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images

Jacques and Gabriella "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."

As for how he's faring, he says, "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."

His faith, he says, has helped him considerably — as well as being "surrounded by family, friends and great staff. I know we're not alone. 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."

Updated by Peter Mikelbank
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