Princess Charlene Has Tried 'to Pull the Whole Family Together'

Princess Charlene has encouraged Prince Albert to connect with his children from previous relationships, Jazmin Grace and Alexandre

Prince Albert, Princess Charlene
Princess Charlene and Prince Albert. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene's relationship has caused plenty of tongues to wag during the couple's 20 years together. However, one topic of much speculation — his children from previous relationships — has had a surprisingly unifying effect over time, a source suggests.

A close friend of the couple tells PEOPLE in this week's issue that Charlene, 43, has actually been a driving force behind Albert, 63, developing closer, more engaged relationships with his 29-year-old daughter Jazmin Grace Grimaldi and son Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste, 18.

Though there have been rumors the princess isn't supportive of Albert's relationships with his older children, the friend says that, on the contrary, "Charlene was really the one that was trying to pull the whole family together."

Speaking exclusively with PEOPLE for this week's issue, Albert himself affirmed that the relationship between his wife and his older children has "evolved with time. She is more acceptant now."

The friend notes that Charlene's encouragement comes with "certain boundaries and certain understandings."

"She's really been the champion for these kids in some ways," the source tells PEOPLE. "I'm not going to say she wants to have them around all the time, because there is some contention on many fronts."

They also point out that "Charlene's had her own issues. For quite a few months now, she's been — whether physically or just from a health [perspective] — not accessible."

princess charlene
Christian Sperka

While Albert is still in the active stage of raising his and Charlene's 6-year-old twins — Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella — the prince has previously said that he stays in regular contact with Jazmin Grace and Alexandre, who enters college this fall.

Adds the friend, "Alexandre is just a delightful young man, growing up in a very strange situation."

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Though both are constitutionally barred from Monaco's line of succession, Albert has acknowledged them and provided financially. "Albert has gone out of his way to invite" Jazmin — an actress and singer who has appeared on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — to official events when opportunities arise, the friend notes.

Adds the source, "Charlene has been keen on "making it easy for [Alexandre] to interact with Albert and was encouraging Albert toward embracing him as his child."

Last month, the prince attended Alexandre's birthday party, telling PEOPLE of the model and student: "He's a very nice kid. I must say he has had a really good upbringing. He's very nice and polite young man and I'm always very happy to see him when I can."

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