Princess Charlene Is Resting After New Surgery as Albert and the Twins Are 'Thinking of Her with Tenderness'

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Princess Charlene
Princess Charlene

Christian Sperka/Courtesy PCMFSA

Princess Charlene underwent major surgery on Friday and will soon be joined in South Africa by her husband, Prince Albert, and the couple's children, Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, PEOPLE can exclusively confirm.

Prince Albert provided an update Friday evening via the palace, saying, "The operation went well, Princess Charlene is resting and we are thinking of her with tenderness."

The surgery required general anesthetic and lasted four hours, according to a statement from the palace. Performed Friday morning in South Africa, it was the latest in a series of ear, nose and throat procedures the 43-year old has undergone in recent months to correct complications from a previous surgery performed last spring in Europe.

The princess recently detailed the persistent troubles she'd been experiencing after a sinus lift and bone graft (performed prior to her May arrival in South Africa) became infected. The impact on her sinuses meant she was unable to fly back to Monaco for several months, though Charlene recently said she hoped to be able to return to Monaco by late October.

Prince Albert, 63, and the couple's 6-year-old twins previously visited South Africa in early June, celebrating their reunion at a private game reserve in the country's Kwazulu Natal district. According to palace sources, a similar reunion will happen in the coming days.

princess charlene Monaco
princess charlene Monaco

Palais Princier/Eric Mathon Prince Albert, Princess Charlene and their twins

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Two weeks ago, speaking to South Africa Radio 702 host Mandy Wiener, the princess providing a medical update, described herself as being stuck "in a waiting game."

"Initially I was supposed to be here for 10 to 12 days, unfortunately, I had a problem equalising my ears, and I found out through the doctors that I had a sinus infection and quite a serious one," she said. "So, it's taking time to address this problem that I'm having."

She added, "I cannot force healing, so I will be grounded in South Africa until the end of October."

And as she waits, she has used her time in South Africa to support of her foundation's efforts, including launching an anti-rhino poaching initiative.

Still, her prolonged absence from Monaco, which included missing her 10th wedding anniversary, has led to considerable tabloid speculation over troubles within the royal marriage — a concern that Charlene, Albert and sources close to the couple have consistently denied.

"She'll never leave her kids," says a source close to Charlene told PEOPLE late last month.

And Charlene told PEOPLE in June, "My daily conversations with Albert and my children help me keep my spirits up a lot, but I miss their presence very much. I can't wait for us to be together."

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