Friday, October 28, 2011

Prince Albert - Peace Through Sports

Yesterday HSH Prince Albert II attended the 2011 Peace and Sport International Forum in Monaco. Government leaders, businessmen and sports enthusiasts came together to discuss how sports can be used to foster dialogue and peace among the nations of the world. Right up the Prince's alley to be sure, and a fine cause. There is nothing like a little friendly competition to bring people together. Among the foreign dignitaries on hand for the event was His Majesty King Letsie III of the south African Kingdom of Lesotho. This is a great forum with a lot of great ideas, I just wonder if they invited anyone from El Salvador and Honduras? Nah, that probably wouldn't look good ... anyone remember the Football War? I jest of course...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Princess Caroline, Fun with Photos

This is actually taken from the Greta Garbo movie "Queen Christina" (my review here)

I don't know where this came from, but I feel like I should. Any ideas?

This, of course, from the Andy Warhol collection (see some of his other royals here)

And finally what looks like someone having fun with "Photoshop". I like it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Prince Pierre of Monaco

On the occasion of his birthday, Mad for Monaco remembers Prince Pierre, beloved father of HSH Prince Rainier III.

Princely Couple Visit Nepal

There Serene Highnesses Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco slipped away from New Zealand and have been making a short visit to Nepal where they have checked in on a school in the Himalayan country (formerly the last Hindu monarchy in the world) which was built by Monaco Aide et Présence and which is now one of the best schools in the country. The Sovereign Prince will then lay the corner stones for some more schools to be built by the Nepal-Monaco Cultural Association and visit some other clinics and workshops built with aid from France. But wait! I know what you're thinking: Nepal had a revolution, they tossed out their terrible king and the Maoists took over (Maoists so hard-core they even freaked out the Red Chinese) so surely they have spread the wealth around and made sure there are no more poor in Nepal...right? Yeah, not so much, seems they still need a great deal of help from wealthy western nations where capitalism holds a little sway. Imagine that. Message to Nepal - It's not working. Just tell the King you're sorry and ask him to come back, we won't tell anyone, we'll just pretend the whole thing never happened. Okay? Good. Moving on then...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Marriage of Prince Jacques I

It was on this day in 1715 that Princess Louise-Hippolyte of Monaco married Jacques Francois Leonor Goyon de Matignon. As we have discussed previously, it was not quite a match made in heaven. Still, all parties agreed and, as it was shortly after the death of His Most Christian Majesty King Louis XIV, the marriage contract was signed by the regent, the Duke of Orleans, and the child King Louis XV. Yet, there were problems for the couple from the outset. In their first year of marriage they suffered the lost of their first child and they had to move to Paris to escape the volatile Prince Antoine I who was infuriated when he learned how he had been maneuvered into accepting Jacques as his son-in-law. For his part, Jacques was not pleased about having to give up his own family name and coat of arms to take those of the House of Grimaldi as he was rather proud of his own lineage. Prince Antoine was also broke by a legal dispute with his own daughter after the death of his ex-wife, Marie de Lorraine, who left her fortune entirely to her daughter. The proud old Prince had to suffer the indignity of asking his rather despised but well-to-do son-in-law for assistance.

“You mention the state of your affairs,” Jacques, then the Duke of Valentinois, wrote back, “as though you wish me to do all I can to ease your situation. I will willingly help…on condition, if you please, that you take no steps to prejudice the future interests of your grandson [the future Prince Honore III who would inherit the fortune from his mother one day]…He is such a [good natured] boy that nobody could think of playing a dirty trick on him”. In other words, stop trying to get your hands on my wife’s money and I will toss a few bucks your way. Prince Antoine, the old “Goliath” was not just furious, he was FURIOUS! As he predicted, he later died still in a rage over his treatment by his son-in-law and daughter though most probably still directed at Marie de Lorraine, his late wife, who he regarded as the author of all his misfortunes. It was then that Princess Louise-Hippolyte became Sovereign Princess of Monaco and Jacques the “Sovereign Consort”. However, that situation did not last long either as the beloved Princess was carried away by smallpox just under a year after taking the throne.

That unhappy event marked the start of the brief reign of Prince Jacques I of Monaco. He was opposed from the very start by Princess Isenghien, his sister-in-law, the second daughter of Prince Antoine I. She tried to rally her Grimaldi cousins in the wider family (in Genoa and elsewhere) to challenge her dead sister’s husband. She claimed, not without some justification, that the Monegasque would never submit to a Sovereign Prince who had not a drop of Grimaldi blood in his veins and, indeed, Prince Jacques I was never widely popular. However, he was no fool and tried to foil his sister-in-law by appointed the Chevalier de Grimaldi, an illegitimate son of Prince Antoine I, as Governor of Monaco who would, effectively, rule the principality on his behalf. As it turned out, this was a smart move as the Chevalier was quite a talented individual who ended up governing Monaco for most of the next fifty years with considerable ability.

Prince Jacques I was never fully accepted by the Monegasque population, tolerated might be a better word, but he was not often in Monaco to bother them anyway. Knowing the temperament of the public, and being more at home in France anyway, he spent most of his short reign in Paris. In 1733 he abdicated in favor of his son, Prince Honore III, while the Chevalier de Grimaldi continued to manage the affairs of the principality quite adeptly throughout the boy’s minority and during his service with the French army. He, along with his brother Prince Charles Maurice of the Knights of Malta, renewed the family tradition of fighting England in the employ of the King of France such as at the battle of Fontenoy. Prince Jacques I retired to Versailles and Paris and died in 1751. His line would continue to provide the Princes of Monaco until the accession of Prince Rainier III. And it all started with a controversial marriage on October 20, 1715.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Princely Couple in New Zealand

Their Serene Highnesses Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco are currently in New Zealand attending the 2011 Rugby World Cup in Auckland. Mixing business with pleasure, the Sovereign Prince will meet with the Prime Minister to discuss Kiwi-Monegasque economic ties, cooperation on environmental issues and general diplomatic 'stuff'. On Thursday the Princely couple will attend a special centenary dinner for the New Zealand Olympic Committee and they will also visit Christchurch. There the Prince will visit with some collaborators in Antarctic research. Next month Prince Albert and Princess Charlene are set to visit Toronto, Canada to open an exhibition on the late Princess Grace of Monaco.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Monaco and the Papacy

Recently “Rome Reports” (a good place to get news about the Pope and news concerning the Holy See) stated that HSH Prince Albert II had visited the Pope once but that he was planning to visit the Vatican again to introduce his wife Princess Charlene (a Catholic convert) to the Pontiff. I’m not sure where they came up with Prince Albert only visiting the Pope once unless that is to say he has only made one formal visit, as Sovereign Prince, to the Pope following his enthronement. Prince Albert has visited the Vatican many times, prior to his succession, he met Pope John Paul II on more than one occasion and the Prince was present at the enthronement of HH Pope Benedict XVI. It has also been said that the Supreme Pontiff will make a historic visit to Monaco sometime next year. However, this provides an opportunity to talk about the long and close ties between the Holy See and the Principality of Monaco. The diplomatic ties between Monaco and the Holy See are some of the oldest in Catholic history.

As we know, the Grimaldi family first left Genoa and came to Monaco as a result of the Guelf-Ghibelline feud that once raged across northern Italy. Eventually, this became simply a feud but the original reason for it was a clash between the Pope on one side and the Holy Roman Emperor (basically the ruler of Germany) on the other. The Guelf faction (to which the Grimaldis adhered) supported the Pope while the Ghibellines supported the Emperor. So, the House of Grimaldi has been on the side of the Pope from the very beginning of the history of Monaco. From the very beginning the official state religion of Monaco has been the Christian religion as taught by the Roman Catholic Church. One of the most significant figures in the history of Monaco was a Catholic bishop, Bishop Agustin Grimaldi, regent for Lord Honore I. It was Lord Honore I who welcomed Pope Paul III to Monaco, the first time a Pontiff ever visited the country. Numerous members of the Grimaldi family joined the Church, such as HSH Princess Charlotte, daughter of HSH Prince Jacques I of Monaco, joined the Order of the Visitation as a nun.

Even members of the Grimaldi House one might not ordinarily consider the “religious types” have supported the Church such as Princess Catherine-Charlotte founded the Convent of the Visitation in Monaco. There were, of course, occasions in history when there were tensions such as when Prince Charles III expelled the Jesuits for their opposition to his establishment of the Monte Carlo Casino. However, hard feelings never lasted long. After the fall of the Papal States and the formation of the Kingdom of Italy, the Principality of Monaco was a haven for many of the veterans of the former papal army who were sheltered in Monaco and paid as their own unique military unit, a sort of Catholic addition to the Princely Rifles. There is even a street named after them in Monaco. The Princes of Monaco have a long history of generous support for the Church, even though there were occasional bumps in the road, usually due to the rocky record of marriage in the Grimaldi family, but Church law has always been respected.

Most recently, Prince Albert II has had to walk a rather fine line between the Catholic tradition of Monaco and the secularism that dominates modern western Europe. One area that has caused some friction is abortion. Prince Rainier III was adamant in completely banning the practice in Monaco but Prince Albert, as part of standards required by the European community, did not stop a law going through allowing for abortion in cases of rape, fetal illness or deformity or if the life of the mother is imperiled. However, as those are the only exceptions, Monaco is still regarded as one of the few western European countries where abortion is illegal. In 2009 Prince Albert II served as patron of a conference organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life, among others, to promote adult stem-cell research which does not involve the destruction of human embryos. In 2010 the Prince signed on to a coalition of twenty Catholic and Orthodox countries to defend the Christian tradition of Europe, “against the secularism, liberalism and relativism that prevail in modern Europe”. HSH Prince Rainier III, a devout Catholic who sought the Papal blessing at every major event of his reign, was a high-ranking member of the Knights of Malta and held the Papal honors of the Order of the Golden Spur and the Order of the Seraphs. Likewise, Prince Albert II is one of the highest ranking members of the Knights of Malta and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a Catholic order under Papal protection, of which he has been a member since 1983.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Don't Mess with Prince Albert!

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco is world famous for being a nice guy, but it is just plain rude to insult a man in his own home and the Monegasque don't take kindly to rudeness and when it comes to Monaco, a Prince's Principality is his castle. Around midnight on Tuesday a very intoxicated Frenchman came into a Monaco bar demanding a drink. The establishment would not serve the man as he was clearly drunk. At that point the man became insulting and a bit hostile so the police were called (and it never takes them long to arrive in Monaco) at which time the man began insulting the police and in general behaving badly. Had he stopped there he might have gotten off with a night in the Monte Carlo 'drunk tank' but he proceeded to insult Prince Albert. As with a number of monarchies AND republics, such behavior is against the law. So, the man was taken into custody and charged with insulting the Sovereign Prince. Once he had sobered up the man said he had no memory of the event and that he was actually quite fond of the Prince of Monaco. But, the man should have considered the consequences before over-indulging in adult beverages. He is currently serving six days in jail for his tirade against the Sovereign Prince. Time, perhaps, to reflect on his poor choices. The man should be grateful that the police got to him before some very patriotic Monegasque citizens did otherwise he might be serving his time in the Princess Grace Hospital instead of the local jail.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Book on the Princely Wedding

Prince Albert II has been busy lately with awards ceremonies but royalist romantics will be pleased to know that the official Princely Wedding book is now finished and will go on sale next Thursday in France, Monaco and will be available on the French Amazon on-line store. The book is very well done, quite to my taste, and features black and white photos of all the behind-the-scenes preparations, the wedding and the Jean Michel Jarre concert. It looks to be a spectacular piece of work.

Birthday of Princess Ghislaine

On this day in history the late Dowager Princess Ghislaine of Monaco was born, consort to HSH Prince Louis II. The photo above is from Prince Rainier III's enthronement ceremony, you can see (from left to right) Princess Antoinette, Princess Charlotte, Prince Rainier III, Prince Pierre and Princess Ghislaine in St Nicholas Cathedral.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Croatian Visit

Readers may remember that in 2009 HSH Prince Albert II visited the Adriatic country of Croatia. On Tuesday the courtesy was returned when President Ivo Josipovic and First Lady Tatjana Josipovic visited the Principality of Monaco where they were greeted and welcomed by Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene. The Princely Carabiniers turned out to provide a guard and honor with all appropriate pomp and ceremony in the Cour d’Honneur of the Princely Palace. The Prince and the President (both wearing their Croat-Monegasque friendship pins) inspected the guard and then retired to discuss increasing the diplomatic and other ties between Monaco and Croatia as well as (who could guess) discussing how they could cooperate in environmental protection. Afterwards the two couples had lunch (as this was only a day visit there was no formal state banquet). This visit also comes at a time when many in Croatia have been pushing to join the European Union so it is not unusual they the Croatian President would seek to strengthen ties and be as friendly as possible to all western European countries. The small Catholic country of Croatia has been around a very long time but most recently only gained independence in 1991 after a very costly war of independence.

Princess Caroline News

It has been a busy week for Princess Caroline, starting with a celebratory gala in Berlin in honor of Robert Wilson’s 70th birthday. Wilson is a world famous choreographer, long known to the House of Grimaldi and the gala was put on by Mountblanc (the same people who released the Princess Grace inspired line of jewelry last month). Wilson is an old friend of the company and a frequent collaborator in their projects. Coinciding with the release of the jewelry line, for example, Wilson produced an accompanying musical encapsulating the life of the late princess from Hollywood superstar to Monegasque consort called “Grace for Grace”. And, later on, our Caro was back in Monaco at the Princely Palace to hand out the Prince Pierre Award for literature, this year going to author and journalist Pierre Assouline who has written numerous biographies and is the purveyor of a literature blog. That was Tuesday, the next day all the winners were at the palace to meet with HSH Prince Albert II and pose for photographs. The award is named after Prince Pierre of Monaco, father of Rainier III and Antoinette, and was established by HSH Prince Rainier III in 1951 in honor of his father, who he always felt had been rather slighted (which he was) and who was a known patron of the arts and letters.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Matchmaker for Monaco Mazarin

Catherine-Charlotte de Gramont, one of the most famous and controversial Princesses of Monaco, is someone regular readers will be familiar with. Her thwarted love affair with her cousin the Duc de Lauzun, her involvement in the Orleans-Stuart love triangle and her stint as one of the many mistresses of King Louis XIV. But, how did this young woman who came so highly recommended, become the wife of HSH Prince Louis I of Monaco? The man responsible was one of the giant figures of French history (though like a few others he was Italian) we know as His Eminence Jules Cardinal Mazarin, the power-behind-the-throne for the very young King Louis XIV. He was born in Pescina in what was then the Kingdom of Naples but grew up in Papal Rome. His father worked for the powerful Colonna family (which everyone has heard of) which allowed him to gain a good education after which he served in the military and became a diplomat for the Papal States. He was later named nuncio to the court of France and was taken under the wing of the famous and powerful Cardinal Richelieu, the power-behind-the-throne under King Louis XIII.

When Louis XIV became nominal King of France with his mother, Ann of Austria, acting as regent, she relied heavily on Mazarin (by then a cardinal) and he became effectively the “prime minister” of the Kingdom of France. Catherine-Charlotte de Gramont was very well known to him. She had practically grown up with his nieces (known as the ‘mazarinettes’), she herself was a great-niece on her mother’s side and her father was a very prestigious person, Marshal of France, duc et pair, sovereign prince of Bidache, viceroy of Navarre and Béarn and governor of Pau. You could say he was somebody. So, when HSH Prince Honore II of Monaco came searching for a suitable bride for his young son Louis, he was referred to Cardinal Mazarin (who liked Honore II as both spoke Italian) and it was the Cardinal who said that Catherine-Charlotte de Gramont would be the ideal choice. Unlike Louis, she knew the French court and high society intimately. She could help him establish himself within the French aristocracy and the marriage would ensure continued Franco-Monégasque friendship. She was a few years older than the Grimaldi prince but devastatingly gorgeous, well connected and from a proper family so Honore II was quick to agree. Louis really had no say in the matter. For her part, from the start, Catherine-Charlotte was extremely disappointed, famously saying that her husband was, “not at all in fashion”.

Marshal Gramont agreed to pay a dowry of 300,000 livres for his daughter’s hand but, when he came up short, Cardinal Mazarin floated him a loan to keep his agreement (Honore II had to agree to make Louis Duc de Valentinois). However, the Cardinal was also responsible for the delay in actually having the wedding as he was focused on securing peace with Spain by seeing to the marriage of King Louis and the Spanish Infanta Maria Teresa. As we know, Prince Louis caught up with the King, the Cardinal and his bride-to-be in the Pyrenees (which was Gramont turf) and it was there that the couple first met. The old Marshal of France reported to Cardinal Mazarin that the ladies all loved Louis and that he was pleasantly surprised by him. He neglected to mention how down on the match his daughter was.

When the wedding of Catherine-Charlotte de Gramont and the Duc de Valentinois was held at the Gramont château of Pau it was a very lavish and ostentatious affair. Cardinal Mazarin did his part by sending the bride a shockingly beautiful jewel-encrusted crown to wear on the big day which guests said truly made her look like a queen. Cardinal Mazarin had arranged an historic match but it was not a totally happy one. The Cardinal continued his long and eventful career, advancing France by thwarting Hapsburg Austria, angering the nobles and squabbling with his fellow Churchmen until his death in 1661. King Louis XIV had by then taken control of affairs himself and would be one of the most famous absolute monarchs in history.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Princess Charlene Speaks to Press at Paris Fashion Week

Professionial-attention-seekers are drawn to Paris Fashion Week like insecure moths to a paparazzi-flash flame; rap stars (Kanye West launched an atrocious fashion "collection" here on Saturday), film stars (Julianne Moore kept her sunglasses on at Lanvin), and those - like Lindsay Lohan at the West event - who defy all job description, all stew together on the pret-a-porter front row. Celebrities are ten-a-penny here.

The arrival of a bona fide princess, however, is a rare event. And that the surprise royal attendee at the Swiss label Akris's Spring 2012 show was Princess Charlene of Monaco yesterday meant it was an unmanufactured buzz that zinged down the sweltering benches in the Palais de Chaillot.

For Charlene, Princess of Monaco - who wore a pretty, light bronze Akris dress as she quietly took her place two seats down from Anna Wintour, the editor of American Vogue, then endured those camera flashes - is both Europe's most recently minted princess and its most enigmatic.

Before her wedding to Prince Albert II in July, there were reports that she had been suffering nerves. Since her marriage, she has been glimpsed in public only rarely.

Yesterday the princess was here because of her close relationship with the label: she wore an Akris gown to the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, and often consults Albert Kriemler, its owner and designer. As the models emerged to a catwalk split by racing track road markings and the tannoyed roar of Formula One engines revving and roaring, it became clear that this collection was an homage to Monaco's most famous sporting event: its Grand Prix.

The princess smiled at models in sporty parkas and print dresses that showed a glamorous woman watching the race from Monaco's Hotel de l'Hermitage, or were striped with an elongated photograph of a speeding vintage race car. The princess's applause, and that of the rest of the audience too, was very well deserved.

Princess Charlene said that she had been wearing Akris since well before she and Albert were guests at the royal wedding in April. She laughed off rumours that she would like to design clothes herself, and added: "No, but I do know what I like. And if I speak to Albert (Kriemler) about certain things he adapts them for me."

Her South African accent is as broad as her swimmer's shoulders.

Are there things she could not wear, I and Telegraph Fashion Editor Lisa Armstrong wondered - for certain dresses in the Akris collection were extremely revealing: "There are certain protocols, and obviously I wouldn't show too much - it [Monaco] is a Catholic country."

Would she ever go high street shopping like the Duchess of Cambridge, only recently spotted browsing through Topshop? "I wouldn't want to compare myself to her."

Far from being dismissive, this was said with great caution - the new princess has become quickly wise to the press. She went on to praise Akris and this Monaco-themed collection, so we asked whether being its princess is something she anticipates will be a full-time job.

"Of course," she replied. "I think that would be expected of me in the near future. But I have just taken a bit of a break. I think, like [anyone], I need time to adjust. I just got married." And for the first time she laughed.

She conceded that learning French is a struggle, but that she's working at it. "Step by step: it's coming along but it takes time."

And then, just as our time was coming to its end, Princess Charlene's shoulders relaxed, and she seemed to ask us to excuse her nerves. "Honestly I don't want to be too cut-off. But obviously the press haven't been really good for us in the past. And that started before the wedding and the sources had come from British [newspapers]. And I was like 'Why?' So I'm speaking to the enemy now."

Princess Charlene, we assured her, you most certainly are not: The Daily Telegraph does not stitch up royalty.

"I'm just learning," she said, looking around her for the first time at the hoverers around us. We're surprised, we responded, that she doesn't have a much larger security detachment. A steely glint entered her eye: "I don't like that. I'm quite independent."

Yet how could you ever live a fairly normal life now you are a Grimaldi princess? "I will," she said with slow and deliberate emphasis, then paused and added: "Do it my way. I think for anyone living in a new country and adapting to a new lifestyle, it's a different role. I was an Olympic swimmer, I lived in a swimsuit, I lived on tour."

And she still swims a lot. She loves to watch the Grand Prix too - she added that she loves all sport and can't wait for London 2012 - and got a thrill in the pit of her stomach the first time she heard those engines revving outside her palace window.

She has been spending a lot of time in the family house, Roc Agel, on the French side of the Monaco border, she said. It was from here that Princess Grace, Charlene's late grandmother-in-law, was driving when she perished in a road accident 29 years ago. But Princess Charlene's introduction into the Grimaldi family long postdates that tragedy, and mentioning Roc Agel seemed to lift her spirits a notch higher. By now, in fact, she was indisputably chipper. And it was time to go.

As we got to our feet, she said one more thing. "I think, in general, that it's all good."

(From The Telegraph)

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Sad Day in Recent History

It was on this day in 1990 that Stefano Casiraghi died. Princess Caroline has often said that he was her real 'one and only'. Our thoughts go out to the Princess and the Casiraghi Trio on this sad anniversary.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

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