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Princess Charlene shines as she makes a return to the limelight

PRINCESS Charlene of Monaco returned to the spotlight in stunning style, after months of shying away from the limelight.

The South African native played the role of loyal wife perfectly last night, as she attended the annual Princess Grace Awards Gala in New York City with her husband of four months.

In one of few official appearances since marrying 52-year-old Prince Albert II in July, Charlene looked stunning in a black and nude lace Christian Dior gown as she mingled with Hollywood's finest.

The former Olympic swimmer (33) has remained under the radar recently and has taken on few engagements since her wedding to the Monte Carlo-based monarch.

But she came back with a bang yesterday as she turned out to help celebrate legendary actress Julie Andrews, who was honoured with the Prince Rainier III Award at the star-studded bash.

The royal appeared happy and relaxed as she and her hubby posed with the guests, which included A-lister Anne Hathaway and singer Natalie Cole.

The royal couple -- who married in July -- hit headlines worldwide after reports surfaced that Miss Wittstock was spotted attempting to flee the principality following rumours of the existence of another illegitimate child of Albert's.

The Prince has fathered two illegitimate children, but Charlene was alleged to be furious after discovering that Albert fathered a lovechild during their five-year courtship.