Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Our Prince the Doctor

Yesterday, HSH Prince Albert II was in Aix-en-Provence, France where he was presented with an honorary doctorate from the Portalis Institute. Here we see the Sovereign Prince being given the traditional badge of rank from the Director of the Institute, Professor Jol-Benoit d'Onorio. The award was made as part of the ceremonies surrounding the 25th anniversary of the Portalis Institute, created in 1984, which is part of the Faculty of Law and Political Science at Aix-en-Provence.

Prince Albert II of Monaco, Doctor Honoris Causa

Favorite Princely Images

Their late Serene Highnesses Sovereign Prince Rainier III and Princess Antoinette, Baroness de Massy

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Funeral for Princess Antoinette

The Casiraghis and de Massy clan

Stephanie, Caroline, Albert and Charlene

Preparing to remove the Princess to the chapel of Peace

Melanie Antoinette de Massy paid a touching tribute to her grandmother, remarking on her courage in facing illness, her love of people, zest for life and attachment to the Catholic Church. "Deo Juvante" (With God's Help) the Grimaldi motto was mentioned numerous times.
Watch now on Monaco TV

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rose Ball 2011

Yesterday was the annual Rose Ball to benefit the Princess Grace Foundation. Usually one of the highlights of social life in Monaco, this year a bit of a cloud hung over the celebration due to the passing of HSH Princess Antoinette who was once a regular feature on the arm of her nephew Prince Albert. Because of this, Princess Caroline, Prince Albert and Charlene were absent, as was the de Massy clan of course. However, the Casiraghi trio came through and represented the Grimaldi family for the event. The theme this year was Motown, the 'title' MOnaco TOWN. Alex, Beatrice and Tatiana were on hand supporting their respective Casiraghis. Other famous faces included Dame Shirley Bassey, Donatella Campioni de Filippo, Eugenie Niarchos, Margherita Missoni, singer VV Brown, Belgian racer Jacky Ickx, Prince Charles and Princess Camilla of Bourbon-Two Sicilies and The Temptations.
Andrea, supported by Pierre and Charlotte delivered a special tribute to Princess Antoinette. The Casiraghis left before the festivities started as a show of respect for their late great-aunt.

Obligatory pic of Charlotte

The ball was held at Sporting Monte Carlo

The decorations all reflect the Motown theme, chosen by Princess Caroline.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Princess Antoinette Has Passed Away

Tragic news to report, according to a short statement from the Princely Palace, Her Serene Highness Princess Antoinette of Monaco, elder sister of Prince Rainier III, passed away today at the age of 90 at the Princess Grace Hospital in Monaco. Flags across the Principality have been lowered to half-mast in honor of the late matriarch of the Grimaldi clan. The Princess had been suffering from numerous ailments, and simple old age, for quite some time and had been staying in the hospital for quite a while. The Princess is the mother of Baroness Elisabeth-Anne de Massy, Baron Christian de Massy and was preceded in death by her daughter Christine Alix de Massy. The last public appearance of Princess Antoinette was at the annual meeting of the Union of Monegasque Women. She celebrated her 90th birthday on December 28, 2010. Mad for Monaco sends heartfelt condolences to the Princely Family, our prayers are with them and with the de Massy clan. May the Princess have the light of the Holy Face shine on her and may she rest in peace.

The Palace has announced that the funeral for Princess Antoinette will be held on Thursday, March 24th at 10 am at St Nicholas Cathedral. Princess Antoinette's body was transferred to the Palace Chapel today for the immediate family to pay their respects. The Prince has ordered two weeks of public mourning to be observed in Monaco. The Palace staff will pay their respects tomorrow and there will be a special mass said for the family in the chapel on Sunday. After that time the public will be able to visit the chapel to pay their respects to the Princess. After the formal funeral in the Cathedral the Princess will be buried in the Chapel of Peace ("la chapelle de la Paix") which will be attended by the family only. The Sovereign Prince will not be attending the upcoming Rose Ball because of the period of mourning though the Casiraghis are expected to still attend.
Princess Antoinette, 1920-2011, born in the reign of Prince Albert I, passed away in the reign of Prince Albert II.
Paris Match coverage and Nice Matin coverage.

Wedding Website Online

The Princely Palace now has on-line the official wedding website for the upcoming marriage of Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock (hurray hurray). It does not have quite as much info as some others out these days but was put together mostly for the benefit of the press to aid them in getting everything in order to cover the event on the big day. It also has the new official monogram for Albert and Charlene, which I at least had never seen before. According to the website, the details on the big day are:

"The civil wedding will take place on Friday 1 July at 5pm in the Throne Room in the Palace of Monaco. It will be celebrated by Philippe Narmino, Director of the Judicial Services and President of the Council of State.

Philippe Narmino is the Ruling Family's Registrar.

The religious ceremony will take place on Saturday 2 July at 5pm in the Main Courtyard of the Palace of Monaco, where Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Barsi.

The gates to the Palace will remain open to enable some 4,000 guests to be seated for the ceremony, which will be broadcast on giant screens.

On this occasion, Friday 1 July and Saturday 2 July, will be holidays."
The website is available in French and English so have a look at Mariage Princier Monaco 2011.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St Patrick's Day!

No member of the Irish diaspora is more famous in Monaco that Princess Grace. Her grandfather, John Henry Kelly, was an Irishman from Newport, County Mayo, Ireland and who came to the United States in 1869 (his wife also came from Ireland to the U.S. in 1867). Princess Grace was quite proud of her Irish heritage, a legacy of which is the Princess Grace Irish Library and she was much beloved in Ireland as is seen by the ecstatic welcome shown when the Princely Family visited Ireland. She passed this on to her son who took the name of his grandfather when he showed up for a cameo in the film "One Man's Hero" about the Irish San Patricio Battalion that fought for Mexico against the United States in the U.S.-Mexican War. Last year there had been a visit by Prince Albert planned for Ireland but it fell through, however, word has been going around that another trip is being discussed. Anyway, a happy St Patrick's Day to all the Irish around the world from Mad for Monaco!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lillie Langtry

Lillie Langtry, also known as the “Jersey Lily” was one of the most famous international celebrities of her day. Women wanted to copy her (and she made good money off of this through endorsements) and men were smitten by her all over the world, from kings and princes to the likes of Judge Roy Bean (the “law west of the Pecos”) who named the town of Langtry, Texas in her honor. She was born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton on the island of Jersey in 1853 and gained an above average education for a girl in her day and age, mostly because her own tutor considered her impossible and so she was educated alongside her brothers. In 1874, at the age of 21, she married the wealthy Irish landlord Edward Langtry and moved to London. Her stunning beauty, quick wit and considerable knowledge made her an instant hit in the high society of London and she quickly gained many well-placed friends.

Lillie became even more famous after Sir John Everett Millais painted a very famous portrait of her called “A Jersey Lily” which was eventually exhibited at the Royal Academy. Other portraits, sketches and the like followed and soon her features were well known far and wide. The philandering Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII) was taken with her and arranged to meet her. An affair quickly followed and Lillie became the Prince’s primary mistress, even being presented to HM Queen Victoria (whom we can be sure did not approve!) and even after things cooled down Lillie and the future King always remained good friends. About the time things were ending with Edward (as another girl caught his eye) Lillie became involved in an affair with the Earl of Shrewsbury which progressed so far that the two planned to run away together. Edward Langtry became fed up with this situation and threatened to sue for divorce and even make public the affair with the Prince of Wales.

This attitude was understandable but probably not wise. The Prince kept his distance after that and creditors who had been kept at bay by the fact that Lillie was the Prince’s mistress quickly closed in and Edward Langtry was driven to the brink of bankruptcy. Lillie herself had to sell many of her possessions but, for someone like her, there was no shortage of men to come to the rescue of the ‘damsel in distress’. Prince Louis of Battenberg was first but he was scared off when Lillie became pregnant and she was paid off by the Prince of Wales and went to live in Paris with another beau, Arthur Clarence Jones. In 1881 she gave birth to her daughter Jeanne Marie. It was then that Lillie, at the urging of Oscar Wilde, became a stage actress, making her debut in London in 1881. She was a great success and later toured the United States as she would do a number of times throughout her career.

From 1882 to 1891 Lillie was involved with the New York millionaire Frederic Gebhard who got her interested in the world of thoroughbred horse racing. In 1900 one of her horses won the Ascot Gold Cup. In 1897 Lillie became an American citizen and finally obtained an official divorce from Edward Langtry in Lakeport, California. In 1888 she bought a winery in California but sold it in 1906, nonetheless the Langtry winery and vineyard are still in business today in Middletown, California. After a brief affair with another American millionaire horse lover (George Alexander Baird) Lillie married Hugo Gerald de Bathe in 1899 who later inherited the title of Baronet (a sort of hereditary knighthood) and who became one of the leading race horse owners in the world. To many it seemed like only a symbolic marriage and before long the couple retired to the Principality of Monaco. They lived separately, though not too far away. For these final years Lillie’s closest companion was the widow of her former butler. Lillie Langtry died in Monaco on February 12, 1929, one of the most famous and widely recognized stars in the world. She was taken home and buried on the island of Jersey not far from where she was born.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Serene Highness!

It was on this day in 1958 that Prince Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi was born, 14 months after his older sister Princess Caroline, giving Rainier III the son he had always wanted. Bells rang out across the principality and the artillery at Fort Antoine fired a 101-gun salute in celebration, announcing the birth of the new Hereditary Prince to the entire Monegasque population along with a proclamation from the Sovereign Prince. He was later baptized on April 20, HSH Hereditary Prince Albert of Monaco, Marquis des Beaux with Prince Louis de Polignac as his godfather and HM Queen Victoria-Eugenia of Spain as his godmother. The succession was secured and the people saw the prince who would lead their small but proud and noble country into the 21st Century. Mad for Monaco joins all the Monegasque and His Serene Highness' many friends around the world in wishing the Sovereign Prince a very happy birthday with many more to come. Vive Monaco! Vive Albert II!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Prince Albert on Today Show

Blessings to Japan

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco has sent a special message of condolence to HM the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese Prime Minister concerning the recent terrible earthquake and tsunami. The thoughts and prayers of everyone are with the people of Japan at the horrible time.
Long live Great Japan!
Long live the Emperor!

MM Video: Monaco's Charlene

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Prince Albert Back in the States

On Saturday HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco visited Naples, Florida where the five time princely Olympian had the honor to open the "Art of The Olympians" museum for which he was the guest of honor. This was not an exceptionally large event, but as an Olympian, an IOC member and the little distinction of being a sovereign monarch and son of an American film icon, Prince Albert was pleased to attend and open the new museum. Most of the assembled guests consisted of local government officials, politicians, the society and sports crowd and a number of past Olympians. It all got underway with breakfast at a private club in Port Royal, Florida, attended by about a hundred people, to whom the Prince addressed a speech.

“This event has very special meaning to me,” His Serene Highness. “It exemplifies the Olympic values, which offer lessons in fair play, patience, respect and dedication. These are traits learned through experiences, especially through creative pursuits.” Which are all things he certainly knows something about. Albert also spoke about how school programs, art exhibitions and so on all reflect the pursuit of excellence embodied in the Olympic games. He also congratulated the organizers of the event and those who established the new museum.

“Everyone is most proud of your achievement. It’s amazing what Olympians can do when they put their hearts to the task.”

One of those on hand was artist Ellen West who was “thrilled” to be a part of the special day. “I think it was marvellous,” she said of attending the breakfast. “I am so thrilled I got to meet a little piece of Grace Kelly. It brings back memories of those days.” Which goes to show once again that, for many people, despite being a Sovereign Prince, reigning monarch of one of the most successful countries of the world and head of the oldest reigning family in Europe, for many Prince Albert will always be most famous simply as the son of Princess Grace.

Later in the day Prince Albert attended a special art fund raiser called "Painting with Prince" in which he got into the spirit of the occasion, putting on shorts and a t-shirt to throw a discus at a painting -giving that extra touch. It was a tux Saturday night of course for the formal opening of the museum and the reception that followed.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Louis I and Louis XIV

Few Princes of Monaco and Kings of France have been as close as Prince Louis I of Monaco and the “Grand Monarch” King Louis XIV of France. It had been only recently that Prince Honore II had taken Monaco out of the Spanish sphere of influence and into the orbit of King Louis XIII of France and he was very anxious for close and friendly ties between the two countries. When Prince Louis was born in 1642 to then Hereditary Prince Hercule (son of Honore II) King Louis XIV of France stood as his godfather and the little prince was named in his honor. As he grew up, the goals of his grandfather could not have been lost on him. The court of King Louis XIV was the most grand and glamorous in the world and the highest possible place in that court was to be aspired to. Louis XIV and his Kingdom of France set the example to follow and as the protecting power of Monaco the House of Grimaldi had every reason to be the best possible friends to the “Grand Monarch” and his kingdom. Prince Louis I would be somebody at the court of Louis XIV, he would gain fame fighting in his armies, he would make the Princely Palace follow the fashions of Versailles and do his best to surpass all others who sought to bask in the glow of the “Sun King”.

It was ensured that Prince Louis, best known as the Duc de Valentinois before his accession, married someone well placed at the court of the French king and that choice was, of course, the famous Charlotte-Catherine de Gramont, daughter of the Marshal of France Antoine de Gramont and Marguerite Duplessis de Chivre, a great niece of Cardinal Richelieu. She undoubtedly helped her husband remain in the favor of the French monarch if only because he himself was so smitten by the young beauty and for a time she joined the ranks of the many mistresses of Louis XIV. Prince Louis fought in the armies of Louis XIV in his wars against England and Spain, gaining the approval of the King but few others at court where he was secretly made fun of for his ‘provincial’ ways, wearing the wrong clothes, wigs and such terribly important things. It was, however, the dramatic love life of Princess Charlotte-Catherine that was to prove the ruin of Grimaldi aspirations at Versailles. Before her arranged marriage to Louis I of Monaco she had been ardently pursued by the Duc de Lauzun -who never relented, even after she went to Monaco to give birth to the future Prince Antoine.

After that mission was accomplished the Princely couple returned to Versailles where King Louis cast his covetous eye on the wife of his godson. The Princess was more than willing to accommodate the King (finding the role of primary mistress to the King of France more attractive than being Princess of Monaco) but a jealousy-enraged Lauzun thwarted their rendezvous and King Louis was left frustrated, furious and rather embarrassed. The Princess of Monaco never looked good to him again (he possibly assumed she had been responsible for locking him out whereas Lauzun had actually made off with the key) and her chances of becoming the King’s official mistress evaporated. One can only feel sorry for Prince Louis I. He and particularly his grandfather had fought for the King of France, worked for the King of France and did all possible to gain his good graces ever since abandoning Spain for France in pursuit of the title of prince étranger at court. Louis XIV had promised to give it, yet, because of his wife’s jealous beau, through no fault of his own, Prince Louis I was denied this ultimate prize for another twenty years when his son, Antoine Duc de Valintinois, married Marie of the Imperial House of Lorraine in 1688, a match King Louis XIV himself arranged.

When the marriage of Prince Louis and Charlotte-Catherine broke down she left her husband in Monaco and retreated to Paris where Louis XIV was at least friendly enough to join her in laughing at the jealously and ‘provincial’ temperament of her husband. However, the business between the two monarchs named Louis was not quite done. To the surprise of many, during all of the tumult over the Spanish succession, Louis XIV named the Prince of Monaco his ambassador to Rome. The elites at court may have made light of Prince Louis I but his devotion could not be questioned, he had fought for France on numerous fields of battle, and it was hoped that his Grimaldi family connections in Italy would give him a stronger position than some other ambassador might have had. Prince Louis took up his position with zeal and so did his utmost to woo and influence the Roman aristocracy and clergy that he all but bankrupted Monaco in the process. However, it was in no small part due to his efforts that Louis XIV won his case at the Vatican which saw his grandson ascend the Spanish throne as King Philip V.

Still, the pair could not finally end on a completely high note. After the death of Pope Innocent XII, Prince Louis had campaigned for the election of his successor Pope Clement XI. Nonetheless, the new Pontiff did not favor the Prince of Monaco who went to Paris to complain to King Louis. Some accounts say that the “Sun King” embraced the Prince, rebuking him, “only for his zeal” while others say he snubbed him completely before ordering him back to Rome. Whatever the actual situation, this last drama seemed to take something out of Louis I who died in 1701 at the age of almost 58. The King would continue until 1715 as the quintessential absolute monarch and the dominant figure of his age. It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Louis XIV. He did not succeed in all of his goals as King of France, yet throughout his entire reign he was the sun around which all else revolved. Practically everything that was done in western Europe at that time was a reaction by the other powers to the actions of Louis XIV and, even if he had not totally triumphed, he did survive -which was quite an accomplishment. For his godson and namesake, Monaco remembers Louis I mostly for his legal code and his rather colorful private life, a significant figure to be sure in the story of the Principality. At the time, however, godson or not, he was one more star in the firmament dominated by the “Sun King” as far as Louis XIV was concerned. Still, he had at least fulfilled all of those tasks entrusted to him and he had finally achieved that long sought after goal for his family; that of a prince étranger at the court of Versailles, which was, for that time and place, as good as the center of the world.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Jazmin!

Today Jazmin Grace, oldest natural child of Prince Albert II, celebrates her 19th birthday. Jazmin, a native of Palm Springs, California, who spent a summer doing charity work in the Fiji Islands, is currently a student at Fordham University in New York. Jazmin has not made the news much lately but as far as I'm concerned that is a good thing. She's been doing extremely well in her studied and is obviously a very intelligent young lady and seems destined for success in whatever direction she decides to take in her life. Mad for Monaco wishes her a happy birthday and all the best of luck in her studies at college and future career.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Prince Albert Celebrates St David Day

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco joined Dame Shirley Bassey to celebrate St David's Day, the patron saint of Wales.

Religious Questions & Charlene

There have been alot of rumors flying about lately regarding the religion of the next Princess of Monaco. Charlene was raised Protestant but, in an interview (which readers will have seen) she identified herself only as "Christian". The media had reported (in one of those off-hand type remarks the modern media is so good at, and frequently passes along incorrect information) that Charlene was taking catechism classes and would or had become Catholic. In the interview mentioned above, when asked about the subject of religion, Prince Albert II pointed out that, unlike Great Britain for example, there is freedom of religion for everyone in Monaco, including the spouse of the Sovereign Prince. Charlene does not have to be a Catholic to be the Princess of Monaco, though it would be the first time in the very long history of the country that such a thing happened.

So, now there is speculation about whether Charlene is or is not a Catholic or if she has or does not have any plans to change her religion. Charlene has attended mass with the Grimaldis, she crossed herself, genuflected to the Archbishop and so on. I don't know if she's taken communion, that is not usually shown anyway. Few would accuse the Grimaldis of being a devoutly religious family these days, but they do take religion seriously. Princess Stephanie, known for her 'wild ways' respectfully abstains from communion when that is called for and Prince Albert II has had very good relations with the Holy See throughout his reign. Now, whether Charlene is or is not a Catholic at this time I cannot say with 100% certainty. She has shown almost all the outward signs of being one and it would be my opinion that she is or is in the process of becoming one.

To be rather blunt, I don't think Charlene gives religious issues a great deal of attention. That is no slam against her, some people make it a priority and other people do not -it's just not a part of their lives. In an interview with her parents they made no issue out of the difference in religious upbringing between their daughter and her intended. Despite the fact that there is no law against it, I would be very, very surprised if Charlene remained even a nominal Protestant. It would be unprecedented in Monegasque history and I think would reflect poorly on her, given that she has not given the impression of specific church membership being that important to her, not to go along with the religion of her husband and the vast majority of the people of Monaco. To stress though, it is my opinion that she has become a Catholic or will shortly, perhaps at Easter time (which is when it usually happens but not always). If there is a public confirmation at Easter in preparation for the marriage it will certainly be known.

MM Video: Stephanie's Family

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