Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Albert I, the Paternal Prince
Of course, as we all know, for Prince Albert I, his life, his love and his lady was the sea and he was often absent on his voyages of scientific study and exploration. He was most comfortable on his yacht, dredging the ocean floor rather than mixing with the society elites and crowned heads of Europe who occupied the magnificent salons of Monte Carlo. He was also uncomfortable with the fashionable crowd because of his rather disapproving attitude toward gambling. He had never been enthusiastic about the gaming industry, set up during the reign of his father, yet he did recognize that it generated the income that allowed him to support the charitable and scientific causes he cared about and considered most important. Some of his lesser-known works include dispatching study missions abroad to learn ways of improving medical care in Monaco and adapting modern methods of education for the country. He also famously said that whenever there was any scientific study or research in need of assistance, “I will be there”. This, in part, also stemmed from his dim view of gambling. He knew that the wealthy elites poured money into Monaco by way of the gaming tables and he felt a little troubled by this so he was determined to ‘pay it back’ by advancing causes that would benefit everyone such as his scientific endeavors and his establishment of the Institute for Peace. He always sought to increase the knowledge and to make scientific knowledge more available for everyone in the world.
This was but one example of the many times Prince Albert I helped to smooth Franco-German relations. Most controversial, probably, was his role in the “Dreyfus Affair” in which he did play a part, defending the innocent Jewish officer and assisting several of the other victims of the wave of anti-Semitism that swept France in the aftermath of the sad episode. This should all serve to illustrate that Prince Albert I was more than just the "Sailor Prince" or purely interested in the science of oceanography and nothing else. He was a paternal, caring monarch, interested in "giving back", improving the lives of his people, furthering world progress and working for peace. He was a good guy.