Prince Florestan, aided by his ever-diligent wife Princess Caroline, that the crisis over Menton and Roquebrune reached its height. The one royal figure on the other side of that crisis was HM King Carlo Alberto of Piedmont-Sardinia, head of the House of Savoy which held a partial protectorate over the Principality of Monaco since the Napoleonic Wars, including Menton and Roquebrune. When liberal outbursts began to sweep Europe, and the southern areas particularly, some royals tried to suppress the spread of such sentiments while others tried to get out in front of them. King Carlo Alberto tried to get out in front, perhaps belatedly, but quite successfully. It was a course of action that put him on a path to conflict with the Prince of Monaco. However, King Carlo Alberto was not quite the scheming man of ambition many of his enemies make him out to be. At the outset he was simply following the example seemingly being set by other monarchs and even the Holy Father in Rome. The difference was, having set out, he refused to change course. The two driving forces behind this movement were constitutional government and nationalism. This is the background.
In 1846 His Holiness Pope Pius IX was elected to the Throne of St Peter and came with a reputation for being something of a liberal, a man known for the demands he had made for governments to care for their people and for his recognition of the people of the Italian peninsula as one nation. Naturally, liberals rejoiced when he was elected and further thrilled when he released from the prisons in Rome all of those jailed for sedition or revolution or any sort of what we would call political prisoners. He appointed progressives to positions of leadership and began the unheard of process of introducing constitutional government in the Papal States with a leadership made up entirely of laymen. King Carlo Alberto followed the example of the Pope and soon in the Principality of Monaco, particularly Menton, there were cheers for Pope Pius IX and King Carlo Alberto by those hoping for the same innovations to be handed down from their Prince. However, the Pope who was so celebrated by liberals and even Protestant governments eventually became horrified by the effects of his progressive changes and ultimately became known as one of the most ardently conservative or even reactionary of pontiffs.
This put Prince Florestan in a terrible position. He was no reactionary himself and, indeed, Monaco would eventually put all the demanded changes into effect, but he did not want to see his country divided or taken over by a foreign power. The problem was that the power he most feared, Piedmont-Sardinia, was the only one he was supposed to appeal to for help. Charles Trenca, a leading liberal, was an early flashpoint. He had served the House of Grimaldi since 1819 and in 1841 he had been sent on a diplomatic mission to Turin along with the Duke of Valentinois (future Prince Charles III) and King Carlo Alberto had been impressed with him. On a subsequent mission the King chose him to act as go-between with the court in Monaco on the subject of annexing Monaco to Piedmont-Sardinia. Needless to say, Prince Florestan and Princess Caroline were less than impressed with this suggestion and Trenca was eventually dismissed for his plotting on behalf of Turin.
King Carlo Alberto had showed his hand and his desire to include Monaco or at the least Menton and Roquebrune in his kingdom was now known. However, the agitation in those areas only increased even after reforms were made and Prince Florestan had no choice but to appeal to the King for Piedmontese troops to restore order. When soldiers were dispatched under General Claudio Gonnet to Menton they were met by a crowd of citizens carrying a large bust of their own beloved King Carlo Alberto. They could not bring themselves to shoot down a mob cheering their own monarch and when the crowd approached, carrying the bust before them, they simply saluted the image of their King and allowed them to pass at which point the crowd burst into cheers. General Gonnet declared that there was no trouble in Menton and marched his troops on to Monaco to report as much to the Prince. This did not go over well at the palace and they assumed, probably correctly, that General Gonnet was on the side of the protestors in wishing for annexation.