The announcement that Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco will be the guest of honour at the Emperor’s Palace Charity Mile raceday on 3 November at Turffontein, is something of a coup for horseracing.
Phumelela and the Racing Association made the announcement recently and while the day has always stood out on the racing calendar for its big names and glamour, the Princess’ presence is bound to ignite public and external media interest on a massive scale.
The Charity Mile is a unique race where each of the 16 horses race on behalf of a charity and its finishing position determines the amount the charity wins. A total of R550,000 in prize money, is shared. Each runner also has a media partner and is publicly represented by a celebrity.
Phumelela have also announced the renaming of one of the races on the day, the HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco Starling Stakes.
The 34 year old Zimbabwean married Albert II, Prince of Monaco on 1 July 2011. She is also a former South African Olympic swimmer, who represented her adoptive homeland at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, with her team finishing fifth in the Women’s 4×100 m Medley. She retired from competitive swimming in 2007.
Her parents Michael and Lynette Wittstock have a close affinity with South African horseracing, and own racehorses here.
Upon her marriage, Charlene became Princess consort of Monaco and gained the title and style of Her Serene Highness The Princess of Monaco. Interestingly the last person to hold the title was the Prince’s mother, the beautiful actress Grace Kelly.
Princess Charlene announced recently that she had become a global ambassador for the Special Olympics movement, charged with promoting respect and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities to a worldwide audience.
She has said that the Special Olympics movement is close to her heart because, as a former athlete, she values its role in “using the power of sport to change lives”.