Monday, November 22, 2010

Prince Albert II, Five Years on the Throne

It was on November 19, 2005 that HSH Prince Albert II was formally enthroned at St Nicholas Cathedral as Sovereign Prince of Monaco. This followed a period of mourning for the death of his father upon whose passing Albert inherited the title on April 6. It was a time of great nervousness, for lack of a better term, when Albert II took the throne. Most of the Monegasque could hardly remember a time without the sturdy image of Prince Rainier III reigning over them. At the time of his death he was the second-longest serving head of state in the world. What sort of a monarch would Albert, the quintessential “nice guy” and perpetual bachelor be? It would, of course, be grossly immature to pass final judgment now, but in light of the recent anniversary it would be appropriate to take a look back at Albert’s five years as Sovereign Prince of Monaco.

Probably the most significant events of the reign of Albert II so far have been the changes he has brought about in the economy. Carrying on and expanding on the foundational work done by his father, Albert II has shifted Monaco away from a purely tourism-based economy (though that is still obviously a major part) and toward becoming a center for technological innovation, global business and the study of environmental changes, particularly in regards to the oceans, and finding new ways to deal with these changes. If there is one area Albert II has been tireless in his efforts it has been researching, warning and raising awareness about global climate change and advocating more responsible lifestyle changes to combat the effects of global warming. He has also taken on a larger role for Monaco in humanitarian causes around the world such as rushing financial assistance in the wake of natural disasters to countries as far removed as Haiti and Pakistan.

Another major accomplishment of Albert’s reign, so far, related to the new direction in the business life of Monaco has been his effort to get Monaco off of the so-called “grey list” of nations regarded as tax havens. Although still strictly guarding their own sovereignty, Monaco has worked extensively with the OECD, the G20 and individual nations in showing that Monaco has nothing to hide in regard to her banking and business transactions. Prince Albert has instituted new policies, new reforms and signed new fiscal agreements with Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Monaco signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) with the United States of America and similar agreements with Belgium and San Marino, enacted into Monegasque law by Sovereign Decree. Monaco still wants to be as investment-friendly as possible but all of these changes have done much to improve the international reputation of the principality.
Also under Albert II Monaco has achieved a measure of greater practical control from the French with the appointment of Michel Roger as Minister of State. Prince Albert made the appointment himself after some legal changed regarding the special relationship with France. Previously the Minister of State had effectively been chosen in Paris. Fortunately, under Albert’s leadership Monaco has remained comparatively unscathed in the economic crisis of recent years though it did necessitate the dropping of a planned expansion into the sea. And, on the personal side of things, Albert admitted his failings to the world in recognizing two illegitimate children and has been a source of strength to his sister Princess Caroline when marital problems beset her. He slapped away a ludicrous attempt at extortion by a professional fraudster and finally, almost marking the anniversary of his five years on the throne, announced his engagement to longtime girlfriend Charlene Wittstock. Given how long it was in coming this may be seen as the most significant achievement of Prince Albert yet, particularly if, in years to come, an heir to the throne comes along to continue the Grimaldi-Polignac line.

It has not been all cakes and ale certainly, and changes always mean making some uncomfortable. However, on the whole, any objective look back would have to view the first five years of the reign of Prince Albert II as a solid success.

Vive le Prince!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...