Friday, February 12, 2010

Monaco and Vietnam

HIM Emperor Bao Dai and HSH Prince Rainier III
Although the countries are extremely dissimilar, Monaco and Vietnam do have some things in common and have had ties many may not be familiar with. Both, for quite some time at least, were part of the community of nations under French protection; albeit under very different circumstances. The first major meeting between the Monegasque and Vietnamese nations came about in an unofficial way when, following World War II and the start of the political wars in Indochina, the last Vietnamese Emperor, Bao Dai, came to France and resided mostly on the southern coast. Emperor Bao Dai, like his mother and many others, was very fond of gambling and was often to be seen at the grand casino of Monte Carlo where, it was said, his losses befitted someone of his exalted rank.

Did Emperor Bao Dai and Prince Rainier III ever meet? I could not say. One would presume such an illustrious visitor would have met with the Sovereign Prince and yet the Vietnamese Emperor was not visiting in an official capacity and was usually trying to keep a low profile so, perhaps not. It is also at least within the realm of possibility that Rainier III might have met the former Vietnamese Emperor Duy Tan in Germany where both served with the French army at the end of World War II. In any event, the Emperor was such a loyal patron of the roulette wheel in Monte Carlo that his mother, the Empress-Dowager Tu Cung, reportedly had to sell some family antiques to pay his debts (the Emperor in France later had to do the same for his mother in Vietnam).

In recent years AMADE, the charitable organization founded by Princess Caroline, has worked with other groups to establish schools in a number of locations around Vietnam, particularly in Ho Chi Minh City, still known as Saigon to most of the world, and once called the “Paris of the Orient” during the days of French colonial rule. The Prince Albert II Foundation has also been at work in Vietnam lately. In 2007 the Principality of Monaco and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam established formal diplomatic relations for the first time when Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Le Kinh Tai presented his credentials to HSH Prince Albert II at the Princely Palace on March 5.

Monaco and Vietnam have both been members of the community of French-speaking languages since 1970 and Vietnam is the 55th country accredited to the Principality of Monaco.

HSH Prince Albert II and HE Le Khinh Tai

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