Friday, July 29, 2011

Speaking of the Italians

Today is a sad day for Italian monarchists as it was on this day in 1900 that King Umberto I "the Good" of Italy was assassinated by an anarchist. However, the House of Savoy is still going on and, rather fitting given their long shared history, are close friends with their Grimaldi neighbors. TRH Prince Emanuele Filiberto and Princess Clotilde of Venice (seen here at the recent Princely wedding) recently gave an interview to talk about the possibility of having a reality TV show in the United States and the subject of the media-induced scandal over the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Monaco came up. Prince Emanuele Filiberto is the grandson of the last King of Italy (King Umberto II) and his wife, Clotilde Courau, is a French actress quite famous in her own right. The two actually first met, in part at least, thanks to Prince Albert and the Sovereign Prince of Monaco was "Best Man" at Prince and Princess of Venice's wedding. So, suffice it to say, they are all pretty good friends and when asked about all the controversy surrounding the Monegasque marriage, the Prince of Venice said, well, you shouldn't believe everything you read. Knowing Prince Albert as he does he said he never had any doubt, seeing him and Charlene and listening to Albert talk about her that this was anything less than a genuine romance. Princess Clotilde also joined in to say that she had talked to Princess Stephanie about Charlene joining the family and she had nothing but kind words to say about her. Princess Clotilde also noted that this carried considerable weight with her since, as we all know, Princess Stephanie is a very authentic, honest, "what you see is what you get" sort of person and would not have said such things if she did not mean them. Now it only remains to be seen if Christophe Barbier will call for a French invasion of Italy in response to this...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

End of a Bad Romance

It was on this day in 1880 that HSH Prince Charles III of Monaco, on his own authority as Sovereign Prince, legally dissolved the marriage of (then) Hereditary Prince Albert and Princess Mary Victoria. There were some high-powered match-makers behind the marriage but, alas, the two never seemed to really hit it off. The daughter of the Duke of Hamilton didn't really seem to like anything about her life after she said "I do". She didn't like her husband, didn't like her new country or her new family. After the birth of their son Louis, Princess Mary Victoria essentially ran away and it was years before she and her husband even exchanged letters. When they did it was because she had fallen in love with a Hungarian nobleman and asked Prince Albert to see about getting their marriage annulled. That took a great deal of time, money and arguing with the Vatican before it was all settled. However, on the civil side of things, Prince Charles III could settle things easily, as in Monaco he was the law, and so he did 131 years ago today. Prince Albert I later went on to marry the American-born Alice Heine who, if that marriage did not last either, was at least much more pleased with and popular in Monaco.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

French to Invade Monaco!

Well, okay, not really, but that is what would happen if the Editor-in-Chief of L'Express has his way. Christophe Barbier, rather upset that his paper is being sued by the Prince of Monaco demanded that France annex the principality (which was last done in the Revolution when the country was occupied by republican troops and the palace plundered). Michel Roger, Monegasque Minister of State (effectively the PM) was not amused by the demand, calling it "surrealist". Elements in France have also objected to the "neo-colonialist" ranting of Barbier who really has no one to blame but himself for his paper sinking to the level of yellow journalism. As usual, Barbier has resorted to the usual republican talking points, saying that Monaco needs to join the "modern" world by being incorporated into France. Yes, just keep telling yourself that Mr. Republican, Monaco is so backward and out-of-date by still being ruled by a Prince even though they have lower taxes, greater per capita wealth, virtually no crime and absolutely no un-employment. Yes, those Monegasque sure are suffering compared to the prosperity of the French Fifth Republic. This is funny.

Can't you just see the headlines now?

France to Invade Monaco: At last a War They are Confident They can win!
French Forces Occupy Monaco: Will it be the Guillotine for the Grimaldis?
Paris - Monte Carlo Dispute to be Settled by Game of 21
Monaco Launches Preemptive Strike: Ten soldiers sent to reoccupy Menton & Roquebrune!
France to Annex Monaco: Casiraghi Trio man the canon at Ft Antoine
Prince Albert Invokes Protectorate Treaty: Demands French troops defend Monaco from the French!
France and Monaco at War: Princess Stephanie to lead army of elephants over the alps
Monaco Announces Counter-Annexation of France: Princess Charlene picking out drapes for Versailles
French Move Against Monaco: Charlotte Casiraghi dons bikini to distract enemy soldiers
France Seeks NATO Support Against Monaco: Upon learning that Princess Caroline was in town.
Attack on the Port of Marseilles: Monaco Swim Team believed to be responsible

It's just funny, I could go on and on...

Taking Them to Court

The threat was made and now it has been followed through on. Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco are suing the French newspaper L'Express for invasion of privacy and publishing "incorrect facts" about the private life of the Princely couple. I say well done the Prince and Princess of Monaco. Someone should be made to answer for the dark cloud that was maliciously flung over the Princely wedding on what should have been a purely happy and celebratory occasion of the Grimaldi and Wittstock families and the Principality of Monaco. Of course, L'Express is not the only guilty party, not by a long shot, but they are the ones most other media outlets took their example from since, we were told over and over again, L'Express was a publication of great journalistic integrity. Well, not from where I'm sitting! This is, of course, not an effort to silence journalism, even of the rather trivial variety. I would not be in favor of that and I know the Princely Family wouldn't be either. However, what the Prince and Princess were hit with was not journalism, it was slanderous gossip wearing a journalistic mask.

A good journalist, for example, will report on an important story and give you some basic facts; exactly what happened, where it happened, when it happened and who it happened to. In most cases they will tell you where they got their information from so that others can verify that what they are reporting is true. In this case, however, all we got was third-hand rumors based on "anonymous sources" and then endless speculation. We were given gossip that was completely un-specific so that nothing that was reported could be verified. Freedom of the press is one of the most important liberties we in the western world have but that freedom should never be used as a cover to peddle gossip and ruin the lives of others simply to sell newspapers. Of course, L'Express will not be hurting too much, even if the Prince wins the case. The Palace has already said that they will be seeking only a nominal sum, the Prince does not need the money after all, because what is at issue here is not a monetary amount but a principle. Again, I say well done!

MM Video: The Family of Princess Stephanie

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Historic Anniversary

It was on this day in 1946 that HSH Prince Louis II of Monaco married Ghislaine Marie Francoise Dommanget and, as regular readers will know, she was not exactly welcomed with open arms by the rest of the Grimaldi family besides the Sovereign Prince. However, Prince Louis II adored her and she brought him a great deal of happiness in his remaining years. She always kept up a dignified front and even after the death of her husband when she was a rather unwelcome Princess Dowager, she lived in Paris, rarely attending family functions but gaining the respect and admiration of more and more people by the way she carried herself, whatever the circumstances. She did get along well with Princess Grace, which is not surprising since, if nothing else, they had at least two things in common; they were both actresses and both had run afoul of Princess Antoinette upon entering the family.

MM Video: Andrea Casiraghi

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Media and Angry Albert!

Forgive the out-of-place photo, but it is the only one I have with our Albie wearing a frown. The Sovereign Prince, known throughout his life as possibly the nicest guy on the planet is fed up with the media 'tempest in a teapot' over all the ugly rumors they have publicized regarding his marriage. The Prince and Princess of Monaco just got back from their honeymoon (which was in Mozambique -a surprise destination even Princess Charlene was not aware of) and yet from their civil wedding day, religious wedding day, the IOC trip to South Africa and the honeymoon all anyone has been able to talk about are all the rumors put out about the Prince and Princess. Runaway bride, paternity tests, a "fake" marriage -we have heard them all, all of them from "anonymous sources", all of them impossible to verify, all of them denied by the Palace, the Prince, the Princess and the Wittstock family. Who could blame even the famously "nice guy" Prince of Monaco for finally saying enough is enough?

Upon returning to the palace on the rock, Albert II met with three French journalists to voice his disapproval of the treatment he and his new princess consort have been subjected to. To quote angry Albert:

We want to express our indignation at these rumors… It’s unbearable. What’s regrettable is that the media pick up these rumours without verifying the information…We are honestly feeling aggrieved by the current rumours. It is simply not acceptable anymore.

I find that unworthy on the part of your colleagues. I’ve always respected freedom of expression. But publishing false information is lamentable and subject to criminal penalties.

Such feelings are completely understandable and any who would be critical of the Prince on this occasion should ask themselves what they would do in his place. Given that, again, all of these ugly rumors that have been so carelessly splashed across the headlines of the world have had no named sources, no specific timeline to test against who we know to have been where and when and in short have presented no evidence to back them up and no specific information with which to verify the stories, I would certainly feel the same way as Prince Albert. You had your fun in trying to ruin a special day for two people, their families and the Principality of Monaco, at this point, it's time to put up or shut up. It should not be up to the Prince and Princess to disprove these rumors, it is the responsibility of those making the accusations to present the evidence to back them up. Otherwise this is simply slander and harassment.

Princess Stephanie on the Job, Alone

Big brother was out of town, on his honeymoon, but that didn't stop Princess Stephanie from carrying on with her duties to the charity she cares most about. She was all on her own this year but still at ease and all smiles as usual for the annual Fight AIDS Monaco summer gala on Wednesday. A concert and charity raffle were held to raise money for Fight AIDS Monaco, of which, as we know, Princess Stephanie is founder and President and the Life House which the Princess built to care for HIV/AIDS victims. The special entertainment was the British rock band "Supertramp" (formerly known as "Daddy" back in the day). Am I the only one that found that slightly humorous? Maybe it was part of a subtle theme: remember kids, if you act like a tramp, even a super tramp, you might end up with AIDS! Of course, it is truly commendable how Princess Stephanie has devoted herself to this charitable service and is one of the benefits of having a royal (or Princely) family that is often so common as to be taken for granted. The Princess does a great deal of good for a great many people -and she is certainly not alone in that amongst the royals of the world.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Alexandra!

It was on this day in 1999 that HRH Princess Alexandra of Hanover was born to Prince Ernst August of Hanover and Princess Caroline of Monaco in Vöcklabruck, Upper Austria. Amongst her ancestors are King George III and Queen Victoria of Great Britain, King Christian IX of Denmark and German Kaiser Wilhelm II. She has been adored from day one and already in her life so far she has been a very impressive princess. She is currently in school in Monaco, living with her mother. Mad for Monaco wishes Princess Alexandra a very happy 12th birthday with many, many more to come!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Camille!

It was on this day in 1998 that Camille Marie Kelly Gottlieb was born to HSH Princess Stephanie of Monaco at the Princess Grace Hospital in Monte Carlo. She officially enters her teenage years today as she turns 13-years-old. Princess Stephanie said long ago that she wanted her children kept out of the public glare and to have as normal and private a life as possible and she seems to have done an excellent job at that. Daniel, Pauline and Camille may not be part of the fashion show & charity gala jet-set like their Casiraghi cousins but they have also been spared the constant media scrutiny of the Casiraghi Trio and seem like quite a happy and well adjusted little family. Camille did make a very nice appearance at the recent wedding of her uncle Albert and in the picture shown I see more than a trace of her mother and grandfather Rainier in her face. A lovely girl and we wish her a very happy birthday with many, many more to come. I think Princess Stephanie has been a very good mother and seeing Camille at 13 is living proof of that. A fine girl. Congratulations and happy birthday!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Royal Splendor on Display in Monaco

On Sunday, HRH Princess Caroline got a special preview of an exhibit at the Grimaldi Forum called, "Magnificence and Grandeur of the Royal Houses in Europe". Using displays of portraits, clothing, furniture, jewellry, sculpture, personal items and so on the exhibit took visitors on a royal tour of the continent. The items on display came from famous royal figures from Poland, Prussia, Bavaria, Austria, Denmark, Spain, France, Portugal, Great Britain, Sweden, Russia, Belgium, Naples, Sardinia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and, of course, the Principality of Monaco.

Birthday of Prince Louis II

It was on this day in 1870 that the future Prince Louis II was born to (then) Hereditary Prince Albert of Monaco (later Albert I) and Princess Mary Victoria, daughter of the 11th Duke of Hamilton. As we know, Louis became a career officer in the French army, distinguished himself in battle in World War I, reigned as Sovereign Prince of Monaco from 1922 to 1949 when he was succeeded by his grandson Rainier III.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Drama Continues

I have tried not to give undue attention to the ugly rumors floating around about the new Princely couple, mostly because none of those who have produced them have presented any evidence to back them up and because, true or not, it seems without doubt to have been aimed at disrupting the joy and happiness of the families involved and the Monegasque people as a whole to splash it all across the headlines one day before the wedding. Just to re-cap, Charlene was rumored to have tried to "flee" Monaco at the last minute upon finding out some terrible secret, which was quickly assumed to be another illegitimate child of the Prince. Wild stories spread quickly, one child, two children, one already here and another on the way, an Italian mother, Nicole Coste a mother yet again and so on and so forth. The whole thing is beneath contempt, again, true or not and nothing has been proven. The Palace announced some days ago that the Sovereign Prince would undergo a paternity test and those inclined to think well of him assume this is to simply put a stop to the rumors while those inclined to think less of him have taken this as a sort of admission.

As we have covered here, Princess Charlene's father denied the rumors (as he was the one who was alleged to have sent her an "escape" ticket) and Princess Charlene herself denied the rumors. Of course, as I think was planned all along, once this began making the rounds the story became more and more fantastic with each re-telling as speculation was added to speculation. The latest comes from the British media, and we know how serious and professional they can be (-he wrote as Rupert Murdoch's media empire in Britain is crumbling due to revelations of criminal activity-) which is that the marriage was no more than a show. According to this story line, Princess Charlene made an agreement ahead of time to marry Prince Albert II simply to give him a legitimate heir and once that duty is done they will part company. Frankly, I've heard similar theories all along amongst those who meddle in gossip and speculation as some sort of hobby. The fact that no verifiable facts have been produced and that all those involved have denied all the rumors from the start does not matter to these sorts of people.

Until now the one person involved who has not spoken on the subject has been the Sovereign Prince himself but that changed just recently when Prince Albert said that all the lurid stories, 'are completely fabricated ... It's just to try to destabilise our marriage, it’s very unfair. The rumours are completely unfounded, that’s why it’s easy for me to talk about them.’ Given time, as with all things, this too shall pass, but it is a shame that anyone would be so base as to try to ruin such a special occasion for so many people, an occasion many have waited decades for, simply to hurt a few individuals and make an easy buck. The truth will eventually come out as it always does but the rumormongers will go on as well and those inclined to always believe the worst will never be satisfied, no matter what the results of any future paternity tests are. It is my position to give the benefit of the doubt until some real facts are produced. The Prince and the Princess have both now denied the rumors and until something concrete is established, that is good enough for me. As a son of the English common law system, I believe in "innocent until proven guilty" and no matter what happens, I cannot see the opinions I have held about anyone changing.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Princess Stephanie Tribute Videos

A collection of video tributes to HSH Princess Stephanie of Monaco by Elsa Marie Peixoto.
Very well done.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Off to South Africa

Still glowing from their recent wedding, Their Serene Highnesses Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco are now in Durban, South Africa. Staying in the Presidential suite of the hotel The Oyster Box in Umhlanga with sweeping views of the Indian Ocean which has hosted royal guests in the past. The Princely couple are in South Africa for a meeting of the International Olympic Committee but, at their hotel on Thursday will host another wedding reception for their Olympic friends who were, perhaps, unable to attend the wedding in Monaco because of scheduling conflicts. The date of the wedding, readers will remember, was rescheduled so that the many friends of the Princely couple (both of whom are former Olympians) would not have to choose between attending the ceremony and attending the meeting. It was unfortunate that the ugly rumors spread around just hours before the wedding were given so much ‘air time’ in South Africa (Princess Charlene was understandably distressed by that) and after all that unpleasantness it is not surprising that the hotel was closed to the press and security kept onlookers at a distance. On hand to meet the Sovereign Prince and the first South African Princess of Monaco was President Jacob Zuma who will also host a special lunch for the couple on Wednesday. Once this little trip is complete, then, the newlyweds can focus on their honeymoon.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Official Wedding Photo

 The Princely Palace released the official wedding photo which also features their (reigning) royal guests.

I also had to add this photo of HSH Princess Stephanie of Monaco and her little family. Yesterday's hot 80's pop icon is today's proud Mediterranean mother. How time flies.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Wedding Reflections

Many thought this day would never come but the once seemingly perpetual bachelor Prince Albert II has said “I do” and we now have a new royal in the ranks: Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco. I was very impressed with the ceremony, a great day for Monaco and the House of Grimaldi. Everything went off without a hitch, everyone looked good, you could feel the happiness in the air and all the glitz and glamour did nothing to take away from the feel that this was a Monegasque family wedding. My first and only real complaint had nothing to do with anyone involved but was the media coverage, specifically, the glaring lack of coverage in the American media. At the last minute, it was broadcast live on CNN International but that was it -and from what I have heard not many people even get CNN International. Evidently it is not included in most basic cable or basic satellite packages. This stands out all the more because of the intense media coverage of the British Royal Wedding which was on every network channel and every cable news outlet. Yes, the British monarchy is bigger, more pomp and ceremony and the attractive young couple are *the* “royal celebrities” of the day, but, come on, Prince Albert is American!

I don’t want to dwell too much on this but it bothers me as I know many people who wanted to watch were not able to or had to resort to computer viewing. The U.S.A. really has no connection with the modern British monarchy whereas Prince Albert IS an American, his mother was American, as a boy he spent nearly half his life in America, he went to school in America and so on. If there was any royal event one would think the American media would have every reason to cover intensely it would be this one. Well, it was America’s loss in any event because the ceremony was spectacular. Monaco itself was at its summer Mediterranean best, the skies were blue, the sun was shining so I guess Albert was not joking when he said he issued a Princely decree for sunny skies and no rain today! Being the old fashioned sort that I am, I prefer weddings to be held in church but the Princely Palace provided a perfect backdrop for the event. Everything looked spectacular though I’m sure the assembled clergymen were sweating up a storm under all those vestments. I loved the little local girls in their Monegasque dresses as flower girls, very cute, very appropriate and very inclusive -that really helped give the impression that this was a Monegasque affair from start to finish.

The royals were out in force amongst the crowd and it seemed to me that the promise was kept that we would get a better look at the assembled crowned heads than we did in London. Princess Charlene looked very much the “serene” highness today, she seemed to be floating the whole time. Prince Albert, dashing in his summer whites, was in full “Albie” mode, lots of reassuring touches, winks and funny faces and gestures for his bride. Yesterday and today he was always ‘on’ -could have been the star of his own show, which, in a way, he was, though he had to know all eyes were on the bride who managed to maintain her serenely detached look throughout the ceremony. Nieces Pauline Ducruet and Charlotte Casiraghi each did one of the readings, both looking very smart for the occasion. Princesses Caroline and Stephanie were both beaming with pride. Based on her past remarks, Princess Caroline may have been doing the ‘happy, happy, joy, joy’ dance in her mind, but she is ever the professional princess on such occasions. I did not notice Stephanie becoming as emotional as she did at the civil wedding but, one must keep in mind, yesterday was the anniversary of Princess Stephanie’s marriage to Daniel Ducruet, which produced some great children but otherwise did not turn out so well so it may have been a doubly emotional occasion for her that day. After Pauline’s flawless performance with her scripture reading, Stephanie did break out in a broad, beaming smile of motherly pride.

The ceremony was grand but still personal with an emphasis on faithfulness and forgiveness. These days that point seems to need to be emphasized a little bit, or a lot, marriage = faithfulness. When that doesn’t happen, the forgiveness part becomes rather more important. The vows were exchanged, the people cheered and the new Princely couple withdrew to the Princely Lexus hybrid (powered by electricity generated by pixie dust of course) for the drive over to the Chapel of St Devote where, like Princess Grace, Princess Charlene gave her bridal bouquet to the patron saint of Monaco and the Grimaldi Princely Family. In the intimate confines of the chapel, listening to the soaring spiritual singing, the new Princess finally got a little emotional and had to dab at a few tears. Of course, the day would not be totally out before the yellow press gave the family something to cry about -but I refuse to go into that today. Refuse. One thing that was certainly evident was the genuine pride and happiness displayed by the crowd. It does my heart good to see it every time. The people of Monaco love their Prince, they count themselves lucky to live where they do, untouched by the problems of larger countries and they appreciate the value of their ancient monarchy, their Prince and they want things to continue. A happy day for the people of Monaco, a happy day I hope for everyone involved. I send them all my heartfelt congratulations.

Vive Monaco!
Vive l’Prince!
Vive l’Princesse!

The Princely Wedding -At Last!

 Princess Charlene, in her Armani gown, escorted in by her father -who was watching his step as the Sovereign Prince eagerly awaits the arrival of his bride.

 Prince Albert and Princess Charlene -a couple that prays together, stays together.

Albert gives a little reassurance to his princess

"One more for the road sugar"

Prince Albert was dashing in white summer uniform and the flower girls in traditional Monegasque costume were, I think, a great touch and did exactly as they were supposed to. An event for everyone.

The "Green Prince" and his new Princess hop in their environmentally friendly car (which runs off electricity generated by pixie dust) for a spin around the Principality to see and be seen on their way to the Chapel of St Devote where Princess Charlene will offer her flowers to the saint as Princess Grace once did.

Princess Charlene got a little emotional at the chapel, not surprising for what has been the most important couple of days of her life, a time, she has said, she will cherish forever.

Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco
Vive l'Princesse!

Princely Wedding Replay

Available here if you missed it.

Le Prince Albert II et la Princesse Charlene au concert Jarre

Friday, July 1, 2011

Prince Albert Balcony Speech + Civil Wedding Ceremony - Monaco Royal Wedding 2011 | FashionTV - FTV

We Have a Princess!

The Princely Rifles Band played for the couple as Monegasque children in national costume saluted their Sovereign Prince and new Princess consort Charlene of Monaco.

Monegasque and South African flags were waved by the crowd outside the palace, watching the civil ceremony in the throne room on large screens.

On the balcony the couple were joined by Maid of Honor Donatella Knecht de Massy and Best Man Chris Le Vine.

The Grimaldi clan was out in force, here HRH Princess Caroline and HSH Princess Stephanie wave to the crowd. All of their children attended the ceremony as well.

Also on the balcony, the bride's family: proud parents Kenneth and Lynette Wittstock and brother Gareth Wittstock.

The new Princess of Monaco greets her people for the first time.

A kiss by the happy couple - the crowd demanded it!

Finally, the mayor of Monaco gives a congratulatory speech to Prince Albert and Princess Charlene on this happy occasion before they head off to another reception and prepare for the 'main event' tomorrow.

And Now It Is Legal!

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