Prince Albert of Monaco and his bride Charlene spent the first few days of their marriage sleeping in separate hotels 10 miles apart, his palace has confirmed, continuing the honeymoon drama that appears to have the newlyweds in more royal trouble than wedded bliss.
In the latest twist to the saga behind their glamorous marriage, after arriving at their honeymoon destination of South Africa, the 53-year-old prince immediately moved into the Hilton hotel in Durban.
His 33-year-old bride, Charlene Wittstock, moved instead into a suite at a hotel some 10 miles away, in the seaside town of Umhlanga Rocks.
The explanation is that he wanted to avoid the traffic in the morning to get to early meetings," Peter Allen of the UK's The Daily Mail told ABC News. "So he stayed there, leaving poor old Charlene 10 miles up the coast at a seaside hotel."
A Monaco palace official confirmed the unusual sleeping arrangements.
"The Prince was in a meeting at the Hilton with members of the International Olympic Committee from July 5 to 9. For practical reasons, it was better to sleep there," a Monaco senior courtier said to the Daily News.
"You have to ask, why couldn't Charlene have stayed in Durban?" Allen said to ABC News. "It's a mystery."
The separate time apart may have given the royal couple, married just weeks ago in an extravagant $55 million, three-day royal wedding, time to think about their future.
Ever since the couple left Monaco after their July 2 wedding, bound for Wittstock's native South Africa, their honeymoon has been overshadowed by headlines that Wittstock was demanding a paternity test to determine if her new husband had cheated on her during their five-year courtship.
Albert already has two confirmed illegitimate children, and rumors of a third love child were widely suspected to be behind Wittstock's reported attempts to escape their marriage.
Days before their fairy-tale wedding that set Monaco abuzz, news reports surfaced that Wittstock, a former Olympic swimmer for South Africa, had bolted for the airport, some reports saying as many as three times, with a one-way ticket to her family's South African home.
The U.K.'s Daily Mail reported that Wittstock is "desperate" to know whether Albert cheated on her and fathered a child during their courtship.
Albert has reportedly undergone the DNA tests demanded by his bride during their honeymoon, but is unlikely to release the results while the couple is in South Africa for fears that Wittstock would flee while away from the constraints of her marriage in Monaco.
The couple is also under siege from the French press, questioning whether their wedding was a sham, a secret deal to allow Wittstock a lavish, royal lifestyle and produce a legitimate heir to the throne for Albert.
"You have to consider why they've gone through with what looks like a pretty painful event," said the Daily Sun's Allen. "And in the end the speculation is all that the reason for the marriage is to produce this heir, that they will do all they can to produce this heir and then we will see what happens."
Neither of Albert's two children, a 7-year-old son named Alexandre with a former flight attendant, and a 19-year-old daughter, Jazmin, with a U.S. real estate agent, can become a legitimate heir to the throne under Monegasque law because they were fathered out of wedlock.