Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
Professional racing first came to Monaco in 1929 when HSH Prince Louis II was active in bringing a number of sports to the principality to add some diversity to the gaming-focused economy. More than eighty years later it is clear how far-sighted he was and Formula 1 is know one of the annual events for which Monaco is best known. In the past, Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace would meet with the top drivers away from the track to get to know them better. With the country even more diversified now that is no longer practical but Prince Albert II recently stated that it would be hard to imagine Formula 1 without Monaco being involved with it. With the country taking on a more environmental and charitable focus, racing might one day seem out of place but the Sovereign Prince said he could imagine no changes for at least another decade or more, if then.
The narrow, winding streets of the microstate certainly make for a challenge for any driver (and no easy task for the cars to be sure) but the picturesque skyline and unmatched ocean views also make Monaco a place where drivers and audiences alike love to flock to for the event. Some might think that big events such as this would provide good practice for the upcoming wedding, but when it comes to the race, the Monegasque are old professionals and have refined to an art setting up and taking down everything need for the big race. The speed and professionalism of that feat is every bit as remarkable as the race itself. In any event, it is another year down, another success and we can look forward to next year. Congratulations to Monaco on a successful race and congratulations to Sebastian Vettel for his victory!
Saturday, May 28, 2011
The Blue Stateroom is between the Officer’s Hall and the Throne Room. Venetian chandeliers of Murano glass decorate the room which is used for official receptions.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Also, with the days being counted down to the big wedding day, the Princely Palace has announced that, as expected, Alain Ducasse will be in charge of putting on the official wedding dinner. The following picture was posted at the palace website.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Some highlights for those who don't sprechen die deutsch so well, they'd prefer a small wedding but prefer to include the people, Charlene admires Caroline and Stephanie and she can't wait to have a family. Yes! The Grimaldi-Polignac line might just go on. Somewhere up above Prince Pierre has his fingers crossed...
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
It was Francois Blanc who purchased control of the SBM for the (then) enormous sum of 2,290,000 francs. An ingenious businessman and wizard of finance, economics and (significantly) promotion, it was Francois Blanc to whom a great deal of the credit is owed for making Monaco, and the soon to be created district of Monte Carlo particularly, the most famous and fashionable gaming center in the world. Francois Blanc was a native of Provence, born with his twin brother Louis on December 12, 1806. Growing up in a small, quiet town, the two boys dreamed of fame and fortune and were impressed when a circus came to down, particularly the games of chance which were so obviously lucrative. They followed the circus throughout the south of France, taking numerous jobs and learning all of the tricks of the trade. Eventually they went into the gambling business in Marseilles and became quite successful. Both realized they had found a way to make their boyhood dreams a reality.
Eventually Francois and Louis amassed enough of a fortune to branch out. In Bordeaux they speculated on government pensions and got into real estate development. Using inventive strategies (some of which would later be outlawed) their already considerable fortune grew rapidly. This attracted attention and they were arrested and brought to trial on accusations of fraud. However, there were no laws against what they had been doing (no one had been creative enough to come up with such a system before) and so, in the end, they were fined for bribing government officials and released, still far ahead of the game. After that bit of unpleasantness they left Bordeaux for Paris. There, they came up with new games of chance to get around existing anti-gambling laws and opened up a number of establishments before King Louis Philippe passed new laws that put them out of business.
Never ones to give up, the brothers moved to Luxembourg and opened a very profitable gaming business there. That was only a stepping stone to their biggest success yet in the Principality of Hesse-Homburg near Frankfurt. Homburg was suffering under a mountain of debt and the local monarch signed a very beneficial contract with Francois and Louis Blanc to develop the tourism industry. This they did with phenomenal success. Homburg quickly became the ‘hot spot’ of Europe with gambling houses, lavish hotels, theatres, spas, gardens and cultural attractions that caused the rich and famous across the continent to flock there. Soon, Francois Blanc was given the nickname, ‘the Wizard of Homburg’. Eventually, once the debts were gone and the prosperity seemed permanent, the government in Frankfurt turned against gambling and Francois Blanc was once again out of business but, as always, not out of ideas.
Homburg had been able to attract visitors only in the summer months. During the winter the elites all retreated to the mild climate of the Riviera and that gave Blanc the idea that, in such a location, he could attract tourists all year round. He also read that, seeing the rags-to-riches story of Homburg, the Prince of Monaco had recently legalized gambling in his tiny principality. Francois Blanc went to Monaco, bet his fortune on gaining control of the SBM and, as they say, the rest is history. He invested heavily in the country, helped establish the new roads and rail lines that would make it accessible to the population centers of Europe and he promoted the area as the new fashionable spot for fun, relaxation and games of chance. Prince Charles III gave him considerable freedom and, again, he invested heavily in the country but it all paid him back handsomely.
The “Wizard of Homburg” had become the “Wizard of Monte Carlo” and the recurring money problems the principality had endured throughout her history would largely become a thing of the past after the arrival of Francois Blanc. He died in Switzerland in 1877 leaving behind a fortune of 72 million francs which, today, would be roughly equivalent to over 450 million euros.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Princess Stephanie in her heyday, performing one of her biggest hits. This is pure 80's "cool" (or maybe I should say "totally cool!") but I always love watching singers, who don't play an instrument, trying to do something with their hands.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Most things will have a decidedly European style to them of course, such as the choice of those who will escort Charlene and then the Princely couple to and from their taking of vows. It was announced that, rather than choosing friends or family, a group of Monegasque children (six girls and two boys), chosen from throughout the principality and surrounding towns, will have the honor of escorting the couple on their big day. Some have been a little critical of this, but I think it sounds like a great idea, it should look cute as can be, and is a good way of including everyone in the celebration. Prince Albert II has often said (like his father before him) that the Monegasque population is like one extended family, and he knows many if not most of them by name. The Prince said this wedding celebration would be as much for his people as anyone else and this seems a very touching way of showing that.
Another difference with the recent wedding in Britain will be the mode of transportation for the couple. In keeping with the passion for environmentalism on the part of the Sovereign Prince, after the wedding mass the couple will take a tour of the principality in a Lexus hybrid. The Palace has also authorized a selection of souvenirs for the occasion, many made by Revol, and include items such as cups, dinner plates, fans and a keychain featuring their monogram, a princely crown and a heart. More items will come on sale later with the full line available in June. This will be, I think, in every way, a very people-friendly royal event, whether it is the special reception for the Monegasque natives, the after-party or the light show and fireworks at Port Hercules to finish it all up, everything seems to be being done to include the people and make this an occasion for all the Prince’s subjects to come together with the Princely Family to celebrate. Can’t wait!
Thursday, May 12, 2011
As we gear up for the 'big day' here is a look back at past Grimaldi weddings:
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
While in town the Sovereign Prince also met with the São Paulo Football Club at their training center, showing off some of his own soccer skills to the team and Joao Paulo de Jesus Lopez, director of the São Paulo Football Club, and coach Paulo Cesar Carpegiani. On Wednesday the Prince met with Geraldo Alckmin, Governor of São Paulo.
The upscale publication, which is the brainchild of Monaco’s Charlotte Casiraghi and the Tour’s founder, former Olympic gold medallist Jan Tops, is a stylish window on the world of top-level equestrian sport and the sophisticated lifestyle that surrounds it.
GCT Life, created by a renowned team of writers, designers and contributors, showcases the luxury, glamour and excellence synonymous with the Formula 1 of the equestrian world.
Jan Tops said: “I am proud and delighted that this vision is now a reality. It is a statement of our intent, and a tribute to how far the Tour has come, that a publication of GCT Life’s elegance and distinct quality is now up and running.
“I am grateful to Charlotte Casiraghi, the Editor of this first edition, for guiding the project from start to finish and putting together such a talented team with world famous contributors.”
GCT Life features exclusive interviews with celebrities who are passionate about horses, such as Stella McCartney, and high profile figures at the heart of the most prestigious and richest show jumping tour on the international calendar, including Edwina Alexander and Jan Tops himself.
From Gucci to Hermès, GCT Life celebrates the classic equestrian heritage that has inspired and influenced some of the world’s leading fashion houses.
The stunning destinations of the 2011 Global Champions Tour are spotlighted, along with unique insider guides to the amazing locations for this year’s circuit.
The magazine offers a glimpse into the Tour’s chic social scene and previews all the news and sporting drama ahead.
Furthermore, GCT Life pays homage to the magnificence of the horse. Charlotte Casiraghi, Editor of GCT Life and a regular competitor on the Global Champions Tour, said: “Equestrian sport’s popularity is on the rise again, which is owed in no small part to the excitement generated by the Global Champions Tour.
“Horse riding has always been synonymous with high fashion, glamour and a desirable lifestyle. The magazine aims to provide both those that are passionate as well as those that are curious about equestrian life with a thrilling, in-depth experience of what it’s all about.
“I want to thank Jan Tops for this unique opportunity and to pay tribute to my team of illustrious contributors.”
Editors Note: The GCT Life team:
Editor - Charlotte Casiraghi
Deputy Editor - Oonagh Blackman
Art Director and Designer- Matilda Saxow Creative Direction - Meri Media Illustrations City Guide – Ricardo Fumanal Illustrations News – James Graham Contributors – Oliver Lloyd, Luke Leitch, Annie Lever, Stefano Grasso, Katrina Bignasca, Muftie Aplin.
The Global Champions Tour is in its sixth season and is firmly established at the forefront of world show jumping.
The 2011 Global Champions Tour has 10 events in nine countries with total prize money of around € 7 million - with € 1 million divided among the 18 highest ranked GCT riders at the conclusion of the series.
Each of the 10 events will be broadcast by Eurosport across 59 countries and live streaming of the show jumping action can be viewed from the dedicated website www.globalchampionstour.com.
Spectacular venues and breathtaking locations around the world play host to each leg of the Global Champions Tour, creating a fabulous atmosphere for thrilling, top-level show jumping.
Global Champions Tour 2011 Events
Doha, Qatar March 17-19 Valencia, Spain May 6-8 Hamburg, Germany June 1-5 Cannes, France June 9-11 Monte Carlo, Monaco June 23-25 Estoril, Portugal July 1-2 Chantilly, France July 22-24 Valkenswaard, The Netherlands August 12-14 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 2-4 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 10-12
From the Global Champions Tour website
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Relations, did, of course, warm up over the years. As we have mentioned, Duke Victor Amadeus II of Savoy (later King of Sardinia) was quite infatuated with the Grimaldi Princess Louise-Hippolyte though she did not feel quite the same about him. It was also Victor Amadeus II who obtained Nice from France and tried to obtain Monaco but was not successful there. He did, however, obtain feudal rights over 11/12 of Menton and Roquebrune which Prince Antoine I contested but an arbitration by Britain and France found in favor of the House of Savoy in 1714. The ceremony of homage to the Duke of Savoy (by then also King of Sardinia and Sicily) from 1716 to 1841. The idea that a sovereign principality would be a protectorate of one kingdom and a vassal of another kingdom in at least one portion of its territory might give someone a better understanding of why the Monegasque have always been so protective of their independence. It was something they had to fight hard to obtain and have constantly struggled to keep amidst the changing designs of the great powers of Europe surrounding them. Monaco under the Grimaldis were trying to hold fast but the for the House of Savoy, their star was clearly on the rise.
King Vittorio Emanuele I came to the throne of Sardinia-Piedmont in 1802. Obviously this was during the French Revolutionary period and the territories of the Savoy had suffered like all the other neighbors of the French Republic. However, things would turn around under the firm rule of Vittorio Emanuele I. The Congress of Vienna set him back on his throne in Turin (he had by then also inherited the legitimist -Jacobite- claim to the thrones of England, Scotland, Ireland and France) and his family holdings were enlarged by the Congress to include the former territories of the Republic of Genoa. Meanwhile, the Grimaldis had been restored to Monaco mostly thanks to Prince Tallyrand, otherwise the Allies might have found it easier to give Monaco to the Savoys altogether while they were at it, just to keep things simple. However, Tallyrand intervened and ensured Monaco remained under Grimaldi rule.
However, what the Allies did do, was to tear up the treaty with France first signed by Prince Honore II. Henceforth, Monaco would be a protectorate of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia under the House of Savoy. Prince Honore IV predicted there would be trouble over this given the long rivalry that had existed between the two houses. The public was not happy about the change, having been used to the relationship with France, but King Vittorio Emanuele I tried to make a good impression. However, relations only worsened when Sardinian troops occupied Monegasque territory and people were really outraged when Turin forbid the fabrication, trade or import of tobacco in the principality as this had been a lucrative local business. As tensions increased over the years and trouble began brewing in Menton and Roquebrune in particular the Monegasque blamed the Savoy government for being behind it as this was when the drive toward Italian unification was starting to get underway.
That drive got underway during the reign of King Vittorio Emanuele II, son of King Carlo Alberto, who did finally succeed in bringing together the Italian nation, creating the united country of Italy as we know it today and he became the first King of Italy. During this ambitious enterprise the King needed the support of Emperor Napoleon III of the French. Piedmont-Sardinia, in the wake of the uprisings in Menton and Roquebrune, had claimed those areas but in working out their relationship with France surrendered control of these areas (along with their own ancestral homeland) and Prince Charles III of Monaco agreed to sell these towns to France. So ended the period when Monaco was a protectorate of the House of Savoy but there were still some in Italy who longed for the territory as well as Nice and Savoy to be included in greater Italy. It is also worth remembering that, at this stage, the Monegasque, although unique, considered themselves rather more Italian than French due to their long history going back to Genoa and the Ligurian region. In World War II, following the Italian declaration of war on France and the occupation of Savoy, Nice, Corsica and Tunisia, Monaco was occupied as well and for the last time was within the Savoy sphere of influence.
It was not long, however, before the fortunes of war shifted. Monaco's brief stint as part of Mussolini's 'new Roman Empire' did not last very long. In 1943 King Vittorio Emanuele III dismissed the dictator and withdrew to the Allied camp, later abdicating in favor of his son King Umberto II. Monaco was liberated and Prince Louis II could breath a little easier. Things were not so happy for the House of Savoy. In 1946 a fraudulent referendum brought down the Italian monarchy and the House of Savoy was forced into exile. Despite sometimes have trouble in their long history together, the two houses remained friendly in spite of everything and when King Umberto II, the last reigning member of the Savoy royal house and last King of Italy, died in exile, Prince Rainier III attended his funeral to pay his respects to the man who represented the end of an era.
Monday, May 2, 2011
As most will know, there is no crown in the Grimaldi family. Although long featured as a symbol of princely authority on flags and arms and such, there is no actual crown and there is no coronation. However, the recent female members of the Grimaldi family have had a number of feminine tiaras to choose from when the occasion warrants it. Princess Grace owned at least three tiaras, and these have occasionally been worn by Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie in their turn, but the most famous pieces have been in the family a bit longer and these were regularly worn, by Princess Caroline particularly, before her marriage to the Prince of Hanover.