Her shaved look comes just months after experimenting with baby bangs

By Stephanie Petit and Peter Mikelbank
December 16, 2020 01:48 PM
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Princess Charlene of Monaco
| Credit: SC Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty

Princess Charlene of Monaco is rocking a whole new look!

The wife of Prince Albert attended a Christmas gift distribution event on Wednesday and showed off her dramatic new "half hawk" haircut instead of her usual blonde bob. The 42-year-old royal had her head shaved on one side and at the back of her neck.

Princess Charlene complemented her new 'do with a sequin face mask that matched her black and gold ensemble to hand out gifts to the children of Monaco.

At a boat christening earlier in the day, Princess Charlene kept her new hairstyle concealed by a hat.

"She wore a beret on which concealed it, but up close I could see where she had her temple and the back of her head, completely shaved," one attendee told PEOPLE.

Princess Charlene of Monaco
| Credit: SC Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty
Princess Charlene of Monaco
| Credit: SC Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty

Another person at both events on Wednesday described Charlene's new look as a "bizarre...punk buzz style" — and "an absolute surprise!"

This isn't the first time in recent months that Princess Charlene has experimented with a new hairstyle. Earlier this year, she debuted baby bangs.

Princess Charlene, who represented her home country of South Africa at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, has primarily worn her hair above her shoulders since she retired from swimming in 2007.

Princess Charlene
| Credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

The present distribution took place instead of the royal family's annual Christmas party at the palace, a tradition started by Albert's mother, Princess Grace, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"In so many ways Monaco is really a village. Everyone knows everyone else, everyone knows everyone else’s father, mother," a palace staffer previously told PEOPLE. "This Christmas tradition at the Palace which Rainier and Grace started, it nurtures that bond between the whole community. Being in the Palace, meeting the prince, attending the party. That’s something you look forward to all year long when you’re a child. And then, when you’re a parent you look forward to sharing it with your own children."

Prince Jacques and Princess Charlene of Monaco
| Credit: SC Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty
Prince Albert and Princess Gabriella of Monaco
| Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Also on hand for the gift distribution were Santa Claus (sporting a face shield), Prince Albert and the couple's twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, who just celebrated their sixth birthday.

In years past, the little royals' birthday has been celebrated with a safari theme, mechanical polar bear expeditions and cartoon superheroes at the Palace, sharing cake and bouncy castles with all their classmates.

This year, however, the celebrations were different amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Prince Albert, Princess Charlene and their twins
| Credit: Palais Princier/Eric Mathon

Princess Charlene arranged a fun afternoon planned for the kids (birthday cake and candles included!) for Saturday at Roc Agel, the family compound overlooking Monaco.

"With a limited amount of other children," Albert told PEOPLE, "and I emphasize the word 'limited' because they'll be people saying, 'How come they can have a party and our kids can't have group activities?' "

Prince Albert, Prince Jacques, Princess Gabriella and Princess Charlene
| Credit: SC Pool - Corbis/Getty Images

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Prince Albert, who tested positive for coronavirus in the spring and recently shared its lasting effects, said there will be a maximum of four other children at the party, including two cousins.

Considerably smaller than past years, the afternoon party included nature walk activities and visits to the various farm animals housed at Roc Agel as well as a "surprise" theme.

"It'll be a surprise to me as well because I wasn't allowed to peek in on the planning meeting," he said with a smile.

"As far as gifts, you know, we're still in that age of different games and superheroes, so we're not going to give them anything symbolic or too useful yet. At six, we're still into having fun."