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Wednesday, August 12 2020 @ 10:47 pm SAST


‘Charity starts at home – and this is my home. What you learn along the way is what you can pass on, in every area,’ she says.

Princess Charlene of Monaco at Turffontein racecourse, 9 April during the draw for the HSH Maiden Plate which will take place at Turffontein on Saturday. Photo: Neil McCartney
NATIONAL NEWS - Back when she was still known as Charlene Wittstock, Princess of Monaco, Her Serene Highness Charlene, already knew what race day meant.

“My father has always been involved with horseracing and has been very passionate about it ever since I was born,” the former Olymic swimmer said yesterday at Turffontein Racecourse in Johannesburg.

“I always went to the racetrack with my father, walk in the stables, be close to the horses. The horses are athletes themselves so it was always interesting to see how the horses were trained, and the attention paid to them.”

The Princess of Monaco is in Johannesburg for The Royal Race Day, a racing event that ensures Gugulesizwe and Lesabe primary schools in Benoni each receive R50,000.

After spending a few weeks in South Africa this year with her family, Princess Charlene seems reinvigorated to continue charitable work in the country.

“Charity starts at home – and this is my home. I always felt proud to represent the country [as an athlete]. What you learn along the way is what you can pass on, in every area,” she says.

That’s exactly what has led her to establish Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation in South Africa a few years ago.

Programmes run by the foundation are aimed at water safety and education. “We started with the message that we need to pay attention to children around any aquatic facility … 150,000 people drown every year,” she says. “We’re in a climate where people enjoy being outdoors, and we want to feel safe that our children know what to do and the swimming and water safety is important.”

The foundation also works with many other organisations and government.

“Implementing it means working with city councils, working with town councils or individuals or the swimming school on the corner, just to get that education out there.”

But Princess Charlene is also focused on natural heritage.

“My love for animals started at an early age and certainly now, we have problems where some animals face extinction, we could lose entire species,” she says. “I know that I have a platform not just for helping people and educating children but also conserving and preserving our nature – every animal counts.”

But this week all attention is on equines and another successful The Royal Race Day.

After a busy day where she had to draw the final fields for the day, Princess Charlene had a single-word answer to the one South African thing she would like accessible globally – “biltong”.

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