I still say that Princess Charlene’s six-month absence from Monaco is one of the oddest royal-gossip stories I’ve ever seen or covered. In May, I thought it was an escape. In October, I’m worried that she’s going to come up with another reason why she can’t return to Monaco. She’s been in South Africa this whole time, recovering from an ENT infection and undergoing corrective (?) surgeries. Prince Albert keeps saying that she’s recovering well and she’ll be back as soon as possible. He said that again last week, declaring Charlene “better” and claiming that she would be back “very soon.” Well, Charlene had another surgery soon after that.

Monaco’s Princess Charlene underwent another operation on Friday in South Africa, PEOPLE has learned.

“Princess Charlene has gone in today for her final procedure” before her return to Monaco, a palace spokesperson confirms.

The princess, 43, has been receiving medical treatment and undergone several lengthy operations for an infection that first flared up during a visit to South Africa in May and has prohibited her from traveling by air, which meant she’s had to extend her stay in her homeland by several months.

Charlene’s prolonged absence has spurred tabloid rumors of marital problems, though the royals and sources close to the couple have dismissed them.

[From People]

Her final procedure? Hm. We didn’t even know that she was supposed to have a final procedure, and they’ve never specified what all of these surgeries are about. Which is Charlene’s right, of course – she doesn’t have to tell us about her medical issues. But considering all of the speculation and rumor-mongering, it is odd that at no point, Albert and Charlene haven’t come out and said “look, this is what’s happening to me medically.” And now I wonder if this final procedure will mean that she gets a few more weeks/months of freedom in South Africa?

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid and Charlene’s IG.

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