Celine Dion is undoubtedly an international superstar. With an enviable music career that spans over 30 years, the Canadian singer has charmed fans from around the world with her voice. However, she has made it clear through the years that her family continues to be what is most important to her. Dion had three children with her late husband René Angélil, the young twins Nelson and Eddy, and their eldest son René-Charles. Time has flown since that first whirlwind pregnancy, and René-Charles is all grown up — he turned 18 in January 2019.

As you right imagine, he’s no longer the cute, little, long-haired boy we saw in photos at his mom’s knee. René-Charles isn’t in the spotlight nearly as much as his show-stopping mother, but he’s making his way in the world at his own pace, in his own way. And there’s still plenty interesting about him. As he starts the adult phase of his life, we’re all wondering how he got to where he is now. Here’s a look at how the Celine Dion’s oldest son became the gorgeous young man he is today.

A miracle baby

Celine Dion didn’t start planning to have a family until she was in her thirties, which is widely considered by the medical community a more difficult age to conceive a child. Compounded with that were her husband René Angélil’s own medical issues. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1998 and thus undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, forcing them to freeze some of his sperm. However, his sperm count was apparently already too low for standard IVF (in-vitro fertilization) treatment.

After a specialized procedure known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection, Dion finally completed a successful pregnancy. René-Charles Angélil was born on January 25, 2001 in Palms West Hospital in Loxahatchee, Florida. According to David Foster, a record producer and close family friend, it was a long-awaited joy. “This was their dream,” he told People. “It’s bigger than any hit record, bigger than anything for them.” The couple had waited a long time for René-Charles Angelil to come into the world, and they were overjoyed at his arrival.

Part of a big family

The Dion family goes much farther than just Celine Dion and her children. Dion is the youngest of fourteen kids. The amount of children no doubt stressed the family’s already struggling financials, as their father worked as a butcher for $167 a week. “We were safe and warm and taken care of. Three or four of us in the same bed was normal to us,” Dion told Vanity Fair. “We were given love and affection and support. What else did we need?”

It all appears to have been for the best, though, as now René-Charles has a whopping thirteen aunts and uncles to dote on him. As soon as he was brought home to Quebec from the hospital, he was known as “Le Petit Prince” in the house, which means “The Little Prince” in French. Dion’s sister Liette told People, “[Celine] won’t be seeing much of her little boy. Everyone will want to hold him!”

Big brother

Nearly ten years after René-Charles’ miraculous birth, his mother gifted him with not one but two siblings — Dion gave birth to twin boys on October 23, 2010. By now, though, at the age of 42, Celine was starting to feel the exhaustion of motherhood and had to focus on the babies over René-Charles. “My little boy, René-Charles, has a fever and I want to be there for him but I am breastfeeding the babies every two-and-a-half hours,” she told Hello! Canada (via The Daily Mail).

Even at the young age of 10, René-Charles showed he was mature enough to be a supportive big brother. “He was an amazing trooper. Very sensitive,” Dion said to Oprah magazine. “For every trial, he was with us emotionally.” However, he was hilariously less than impressed with his new siblings when they finally arrived. “René-Charles is looking at them like, ‘Mom the only thing they do is look around and cry,” Dion admitted. However, it looks like he eventually came around to the value of family. Celine’s instagram is full of loving photos of the entire family together.

A gender neutral upbringing

The regional Quebec press had a very weird fascination with René-Charles’ hair when he was growing up. The articles constantly asked why Celine Dion let her sons grow their hair so long. That was just the first sign of the public’s bafflement with the Dion parenting style. In 2013 Dion went on Katie, Katie Couric’s talk show, and revealed that one of the twins, Nelson, liked running around in high heels. “I don’t know how he does it, but I’m not the only one in this family who loves shoes, believe me,” Dion joked.

The internet responded with its usual tact, but Dion didn’t — and still doesn’t — seem to care. In 2018 she launched her gender-neutral line of children’s clothing, Celinununu. As she told CNN, she was inspired by her experiences raising René-Charles and the twins. “I thought they were going to go for the big superheroes. They were looking at princesses. And they all wanted to be Minnie Mouse,” she said. “And I end up saying to myself, ‘You know what, it’s OK.’ You know why it’s OK? Because they’re talking, they’re finding themselves.” René-Charles was able to grow up without a hard focus on gender expectations.

Mom tried to shield him from the press

It should come as no surprise now that Celine is very passionate about her family. “I’m still on stage because I still love that part of my life,” she told Taste of Life, “but what I’m most proud of, what I consider my biggest success, is my family — my three beautiful children.” Thus, when it was ever a choice between family and fame, she always chose the former. She made sure René-Charles and his brothers got to have as much of a normal upbringing as possible.

“I always say to the bodyguards when we go bowling, for example, ‘If the fans come, don’t tell them no. But ask them if they can wait because I’m having a moment with my child, and if they don’t mind waiting, I will be pleased to give them an autograph if they want,” she told Oprah. Furthermore, she apparently built a private home in Florida where the entire family, including her parents and 13 siblings, could enjoy each other in peace. René-Charles likely didn’t have to suffer through sharing one bathroom with all of them, though!

Dad was sick for much of his life

René Angélil had recovered from his initial battle with throat cancer in 1999, but in 2013, the horrible disease reared its ugly head again. He underwent surgery to remove the tumor in winter of that year, but the cancer did not subside. For the last two years of his life, he would eat through a feeding tube with steadily declining health. At the time, René-Charles was still just a young teenager.

Celine opened up about her son’s experience to US Weekly. “I have tremendous respect for my oldest, René-Charles, because he’s showing strength to see his dad this way, because he’s been his anchor,” she said. “When he was younger he knew his dad was older but they bonded a lot. I’m sure it’s hard for him.” René Angélil sadly passed away on January 14, 2016 at the age of 73. René-Charles gave the eulogy at his own father’s funeral, demonstrating strength and maturoty at such s young age.

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