Wednesday, November 30, 2011

No Finish Line and Rio+20

On November 20, Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene were on hand at the finish line for the “No Finish Line” race, who were started on their way by Princess Stephanie, organized by the “Children and Future” association which has as its cause to help abused, sick and underprivileged children. They presented the trophy to the winner, the honor going this year to William Sichel of Scotland. The Princely Couple were both in their element on such an athletic and charitable occasion, both looking very comfortable and very happy to be present. Princess Charlene also displayed, once again, her great rapport with the children present.

It is always pleasing to see the Prince and Princess of Monaco at a sporting event, be it the Olympic games or something like a small, charitable affair such as “No Finish Line” as they clearly seem more ‘at home’ in such surroundings and can relax and be very much themselves.

For Prince Albert, probably the only surroundings in which he fits in as well would be a crowd of environmentalists, and they are never far away. This past Monday the Sovereign Prince received at the Princely Palace Luiz Figueiredo the under-Secretary for the environment, energy, science and technology from the Republic of Brazil. Along with Monegasque-Brazilian relations the two also discussed the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and reiterated the shared commitment of Monaco and Brazil to that cause and grappling with “climate change”. This will be held on June 20-22 next year.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Louis!

It was on this day in 1992 that HSH Princess Stephanie of Monaco and Daniel Ducruet welcomed their firstborn, Louis, into the world. Mad for Monaco wishes Louis Ducruet a very happy birthday with many, many more to come.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Looking for Work Ladies?

Opportunity may be knocking on your door from the direction of Monte Carlo. It seems HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco is in need of a lady-in-waiting. According to Italian Journalist Agency the Princess is looking for someone to fill this top spot. According to the report, “The lady companion must be discrete, courteous and always ready to help the princess both while traveling and with her guests”. I suppose being fluent in English and French would probably be helpful as well. So, if you are a lady, if you don’t mind to wait and fit those qualifications, Princess Charlene just might have a job for you as her official shadow. Wages were not mentioned but there will definitely be comfortable living accommodations and frequent opportunities for travel included. According to a French newspaper Princess Charlene is currently being assisted by, believe it or not, the former lady-in-waiting to the late Princess Grace, Virginia Gallico, a preeminent member of the palace staff and one of the godmothers of HRH Princess Alexandra of Hanover (hence her fourth middle name being Virginia). Virginia Gallico, widow of the author Paul Gallico (author of “The Poseidon Adventure” among others), was one of the few Americans to join the palace staff and was one of the closest friends and assistants to Princess Grace. Certainly the woman has earned a comfortable retirement by this time. Anyway, put your name in the hat ladies, if you like. We hope the Princess soon finds someone suitable and please God, whoever the woman turns out to be, let her be someone trustworthy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Two Icons of Hollywood

Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, behind-the-scenes at the Academy Awards.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Solemnity of Christ the King

Today is the Solemnity of Christ the King in the Roman Catholic Church, official religion of Monaco, and a day when we are all reminded that even God is a monarchist. Have a good one. -MM

MM Video: National Day 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

National Day 2011

As usual the day's festivities got started with a special mass of thanksgiving with the Princely Family all in attendance (Casiraghi trio and the de Massy clan included).

After that, it was time to decorate the troops and salute the march-past of the guards.

The Casiraghi trio don their most serious expressions for the military spectacle

Here you can just see Melanie on the far left, Princess Caroline, Baroness Elisabeth, Princess Charlene and Princely cousin Christopher Le Vine (nephew of Princess Grace)

Then of course it was time to greet the public from the balcony. At one point the guards band struck up the Toto song "Africa", evidently a hit as Charlotte was boppin' with the beat and Princess Caroline started to sing along with the chorus ... "I bless the rains down in Africa...."

Never fear, Princess Stephanie is here!

And of course, the stars were the Prince and Princess. Albert seemed to have to explain some of the cheers and chanting to Charlene but, on any occasion, get the Prince surrounded by his adoring people and he goes into full "Albie" mode, winking, pointing, waving and blowing kisses. Vive le Prince!

And finally a formal night out at the opera to close the day. Prince Albert, Princess Charlene and Princess Caroline attended (as usual) as did Andrea and Pierre Casiraghi (not so usual) and all posed for photographs with these two adorable albino children (kidding of course!). There was also a spectacular light show at the Princely Palace, all marking Albert II's six years on the throne as Sovereign Prince of Monaco. May HSH have many, many more.

Happy National Day!

Happy Anniversary to HSH Prince Albert II! Happy National Day!
Long live the Prince! Long live Monaco!

(More coverage to come)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Decorations for National Day

It is almost National Day and that means it's time to start handing out the decorations.
On Tuesday HSH Prince Albert II, at the Princely Palace, handed out medals of the Order of St Charles (the preeminent Monegasque order) to seven loyal courtiers, now retired, for their years of service to the monarchy. Later, some 14 Medals of Honor were given out to men and women of the volunteer services for their contribution to society in Monaco.
On Thursday TSH Prince Albert II, Princess Charlene and Princess Stephanie handed out special packages at the Monaco Red Cross headquarters to elderly citizens who have distinguished themselves for social action. The tradition continues.

Also at the Princely Palace, Prince Albert II handed out 79 Medals for Physical Education and Sport as part of the pre-National Day festivities. Princess Charlene also donated over a million South African dollars to the charity "Giving Trust Organization" in honor of the 80th birthday of celebrated civil rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
And yesterday, in a grand event in the throne room at the Princely Palace, more than 50 worthy individuals were honored with the Order of St Charles by HSH Prince Albert II and in the presence of HSH Princess Charlene, HRH Princess Caroline and Charlotte Casiraghi.

Now, just a few more hours until the big day is here.

Monaco and Economic Success

There are many liberals who love Monaco (and God bless them -I do hope I do not dissuade them) and those who do, in my experience, tend to be those who focus on results rather than on forms and styles. They do not know or (less often) do not care that, even with the most recent changes in the Monegasque constitution, the country is still, in fact if not in name, an absolute, hereditary monarchy. It is also an officially Roman Catholic absolute monarchy. However, I have seen some American liberals actually sigh in admiration at the power wielded by HSH Prince Albert II when he acts on environmental issues that they agree with him on. I have heard them sound rather envious that, when a certain Mediterranean fish came under threat, Prince Albert was simply able to decree it illegal to catch that type of fish in Monaco’s extensive territorial waters or to sell or consume that fish in the Principality without having to go through any long political argument over the subject. Most, however, are not that well informed. They are not ignorant in this regard, they simply have other priorities than the constitutional situation of a microstate on the French Riviera. What they do know is that Prince Albert II is a sincere and committed environmentalist, they know that Princess Caroline does immense good for orphans and poor children in Africa and elsewhere and that Princess Stephanie is a champion for AIDS victims and those with HIV. They help causes most liberals support and that is enough.

I am very grateful for that and I can salute such liberalism for their sincerity in their devotion to these causes. However, the story of the success of Monaco is largely (but not entirely) a success story of capitalism. Furthermore, the Princely Family would not be able to champion so many worthy causes were it not for the economic independence that came with the House of Grimaldi becoming a very wealthy family, roughly since the establishment of the gaming industry, which had certainly not always been the case in the more than seven centuries of Grimaldi rule over Monaco. Before capitalists get too excited, it must be said that a large part of the economic history of Monaco has been one of government controls in certain areas and extensive use of monopolies. However, in other ways, the economic policies which have made Monaco such a haven of prosperity are policies which many capitalists would support and only wish they could emulate in their own countries around the world. Capitalists would not agree with everything but I think they would be more happy than the socialists if more countries looked to follow the example of Monaco in trying to imitate their model for prosperity.

Monaco had a very modest existence for most of its history, getting by on fishing and farming for the most part. However, that all changed with the reign of Prince Charles III. Monaco was drastically reduced in size, all but eliminating any possibility for agriculture and, later, during his reign the gaming industry was established with the Monte Carlo Casino. When Monaco became connected to France by rail tourism also vastly expanded (the only prior routes to Monaco being by sea or narrow, dangerous mountain paths). As gambling was then outlawed in France (and most of the rest of Europe) Monaco and the Princely Family became very wealthy very fast on revenues from the casino and the tourism industry. That was how prosperity first came to Monaco, but far-sighted princes knew it wouldn’t last and indeed it did not as gambling became legal in other countries the number of visitors to the gaming tables in Monte Carlo naturally declined. However, the Princes of Monaco took care to invest for the future and today the gaming industry only accounts for a small fraction of the income of Monaco. Tourism is still quite important but even more so is finance, commerce and increasingly environmental research.

The arts and sciences flourish in Monaco but, it must be said, this, as well as the widespread philanthropy of the Princely Family and others, would not be possible were it not for the abundance of quite wealthy citizens and residents of Monaco. The primary reason many wealthy people flock to Monaco is quite simple; the lack of a personal income tax. In fact, when the socialists were at the height of their power in the United Kingdom, English was almost an unofficial second language in Monaco as so many “tax refugees” relocated to the principality to escape the enormous tax burden of life in Britain. At times this has led to some friction with foreign countries. At one point, relations between Monaco and France became quite tense due to anger in Paris over the large number of French citizens who escaped French taxes by relocating to Monaco. Because of that, and the special relationship Monaco has with France, a legal exception was passed so that French citizens can no longer avoid paying taxes by living in Monaco. However, there is no doubt that the immense prosperity Monaco has enjoyed in our time is due in large part to having no personal income tax, no overregulation and a very pro-business and pro-investment environment.

This has attracted a very wealthy population and many, what we might call “elite” industries to Monaco. As a result, Monaco has consistently enjoyed a very high national income, a very high standard of living and a 0% unemployment rate, almost unheard of anywhere else in the world. It also means there are an abundance of people who can afford to give generously to the many charities which operate out of Monaco, including those organized by members of the Princely Family, which do an immense good for huge numbers of people around the world and, in the case of those championed by Prince Albert II especially, do good for the world itself. Other countries, envious of the wealth in Monaco, might do well to stop angrily trying to change the country and instead trying to emulate its formula for success and sustained growth. Monaco has also been able to accomplish this by maintaining their much prized independence. The country is in a customs union with France (and has been for a long time), which is necessary, and though Monaco is not a member of the European Union, it is a member of the Eurozone and mints its own Monegasque Euro coins. Obviously, not everyone in Monaco is extremely wealthy but the country is almost alone in the world in having no poor and those who are not so well off as the rich are easily cared for because the economic environment, which does not look to punish success, has attracted a population wealthy enough to easily take care of the less well to do.

Monaco is a stunning example of what can happen when the people of a country are allowed to keep and control their own money and dispose of their wealth as they see fit. Monaco, in this regard, is one of the best kept secrets in the world with a political and economic system that is able to satisfy the most ardent liberals and conservatives alike. Taxes are low, people keep their own money, invest it as they please, creating wealth, creating prosperity and there is a monarchy which, through numerous charity galas throughout the year, provides a social incentive for these wealthy people to give generously to help the underprivileged and sponsor (quite often) liberal causes they might otherwise not. Conservatives appreciate the traditional structure, the low taxation and the pro-business atmosphere while Liberals appreciate the efficiency of the government and the liberal causes that are sponsored, funded and promoted by the Princely Family and the many charitable organizations. It all works together to make the Principality of Monaco one of the most successful and prosperous countries in the world as well as one that does immense good for people across the globe with the proud support of a loyal population at home and many friends abroad.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Princess Stephanie - The Latest

Princess Stephanie news! It has been far too long since I’ve been able to say anything about my dear Princess Steph. First, we will start out on the lighter side. I would not have found it humorous myself but, I suppose after everything Stephanie has been through over the years you just sort of get used to it after a while. Recently, our Princess Stephanie along with her daughter Camille and one of Camille’s little friends (which I probably shouldn’t say anymore considering how fast they are growing up) were on their autumn vacation at Steph’s favorite (it is probably safe to say) island retreat of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Well, as usual, the prying eyes of the paparazzi were not far beyond and they snapped some photos of the girls in their swimwear and, how to put it… Stephanie in just half of her swimwear. Yeah, not the first time, and when you’re from the Riviera this is so not a big deal, but of course some will have to roll their eyes at it. I will not, of course, be posting any paparazzi pics here but, just let me say, Princess Stephanie, 46 or not, has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Moving along, moving along…the really funny part was when the Grimaldi girls all noticed they were being photographed. Princess Stephanie covered up of course but Camille could not resist making some funny faces at the camera, though she ended with a smile and a peace sign -just to show the tabloid trash they weren’t getting her down. You go Camille!

In more serious news, on Saturday, Princess Stephanie of Monaco was at Port Hercules to start the “No Finish Line” charity foot race which will run until this upcoming Sunday. This is held every year by the Children & Future Charity and raises money for other charitable causes as well, including Stephanie’s own organization Fight AIDS Monaco. I did not see any pictures of her actually starting the race, let us hope she was not as intimidated by the starting pistol as last year. (Stephanie doesn’t like guns!)

Princely Couple - Awards, School and Church

Busy, busy times for the Prince and Princess of Monaco. On Thursday, HSH Prince Albert II presented the Vermeil Medal for Physical Education and Sports to Pierre Weiss, former Secretary-General of the IAAF (that is the International Association of Athletics Foundations) at the Princely Palace. Lamine Diack, President of the IAAF and members of the IAAF Council also attended the ceremony.

On Friday the Princely Couple popped in to surprise the students at Saint-Charles school in Monte Carlo. They talked with the staff and students for a bit before the Sovereign Prince had to hurry off to his next engagement. However, Princess Charlene stayed behind to talk to the students some more, join in with art class and that sort of thing. The children were as adorable as can be, one giving a gushing welcome to their new Princess. Seeing things like that make me feel rather old; here is a generation of little Monegasques who never knew Prince Rainier or Princess Grace. Anyway, Princess Charlene finally left, all smiles, and loaded down with Saint-Charles school souvenirs.

Then, on Saturday, Prince Albert II was in neighboring Nice for the opening of the 2011 UIPM Congress, that being the governing organization of the International Modern Pentathlon Union, which is based in Monte Carlo and oversees the pentathlon world championships and Olympic competitions. Prince Albert serves as the Honorary President of the UIPM and addressed the 2011 Congress, commenting on the advances made recently with new technology and in attracting new, younger people to the sport. Since 2008 the UIPM President has been Klaus Schormann of Germany. Also on Saturday, Prince Albert dashed back down to Monaco to attend the 2011 World Athletics Awards Gala at the sporting club in Monte Carlo. The top prize this year went to Usain Bolt of Jamaica and Sally Pearson of Australia (way to go British Commonwealth!) who were named “Athletes of the Year”.

Sunday morning, it was off to Church for mass, but this was no ordinary Sunday mass. (Let’s get all the titles right for such a lofty occasion) HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco, HRH Princess Caroline of Hanover and HRH Princess Alexandra of Hanover all attended a special Pontifical Mass celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Barsi (of course) in honor of the 100th anniversary of Saint Martin church parish in Monaco, one of the five Roman Catholic parish churches in the Principality. The parish church was formally opened 100 years ago during the reign of Prince Albert I and has now reached the century mark during the reign of Prince Albert II. How appropriate is that? Princess Caroline was looking very smart and very, well, “Caroline” -as no one else can be. Of course, as usual, I think Princess Alexandra stole the show -cute as a button.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Birth of Albert I

Today in Grimaldi history, in the revolutionary year of 1848, the "Sailor Prince" Albert I of Monaco was born to Prince Charles III and Princess Antoinette de Merode-Westerloo. What we have had to say about HSH Prince Albert I.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Princess Grace's Birthday

It was on this day in 1929 that Grace Patricia Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to John Brendan Kelly and Margaret Katherine Majer, the third of four children. She would be 82-years-old today, were it not for the tragic accident that cut her life all too short. It is hard to imagine what the world, and Monaco in particular, would have been like without her -and I wouldn't want to try. She was such a remarkable woman, truly one of a kind, and an ideal Princess consort. Her life was the original, true, royal fairytale. It was not always easy or pleasant and she certainly had her share of problems to deal with but, like all the best royal consorts, she took it all in stride and never let it show. She was a faithful and supportive wife and a devoting, loving and "hands-on" mother. Princess Grace was the complete package; intelligent, disciplined, compassionate, beautiful, stylish, dignified, caring and, of course, graceful. Few would have guessed it at the begining. As a child she was considered, believe it or not, to be something of an "ugly duckling". She was frail and often sick in a family that, with a father who was an Olympian, prized athletic ability, strength and stamina. However, she set out on her own, pursued her acting career, started out as a model, worked her way up through the ranks and finally reached the top; not just a successful actress, but the leading lady in many big studio movies and an Oscar winner. After her whirlwind courtship and marriage she settled into the "role" of Princess of Monaco and I think everyone would agree it was a part she was born to play. I am sure, Princess Grace is looking down on Monaco now, keeping an eye on her children (and her grandchildren) and I'm sure she would be perfectly delighted that her beloved 'Albie' has finally settled down to married life. There will never be another like her and she is still greatly missed, but a Hollywood icon and a future Princess of Monaco got her first look at the world 82 years ago today.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Armistice Day

Mad for Monaco wishes everyone a happy Armistice Day (aka Veterans Day in America), a good day to remember Monaco's most famous veteran of the Great War, HSH Prince Louis II.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Birthday of Honore III

Today in 1720, HSH Prince Honore III of Monaco was born. An accomplished soldier and very cultured man, he was to lose his throne in the horror of the French Revolution. See past articles on Prince Honore III.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Princess Grace and the Kennedys

It should come as no surprise that HSH Princess Grace of Monaco would have been close friends with the Kennedy family. The Kelly and Kennedy clans both come from similar backgrounds; poor Irish immigrants who managed to make their way to the top of the social-economic ladder in the United States. John F. Kennedy (the world would later learn) suffered from numerous and painful ailments throughout his relatively short life and this was a cause of great concern for those who knew him closely. In 1954 he was hospitalized due to severe back trouble and Princess Grace was so concerned she rushed to see him, but a private, personal meeting would obviously be very difficult. So, believe it or not, Jackie Kennedy arranged for Grace to sneak into the hospital dressed as a nurse in order to visit the future President (this being before his election and before Grace Kelly became Princess of Monaco). Of course, with her established talents as an actress, Grace was able to pull off the ruse flawlessly. Later, after the tragic assassination of JFK, one would have to wonder if a few eyebrows went up in Monaco when Jackie Kennedy married the former arch-enemy of Prince Rainier III; Aristotle Onassis, a match controversial for a great many reasons.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene in America

T.S.H. Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene have been in North America and have had to cover quite a great distance to be everywhere they were required. Late last month Prince Albert II, because of his years of work with the Olympic Games, was honored with a doctorate from the United States Sports Academy. This was presented at the (previously covered) 5th annual Peace and Sport International Forum. His helping in putting the forum together was also cited as merit for his new honorary doctorate. On the west side of the Atlantic, the Prince and Princess were busy this week, starting the month off with the Princess Grace Awards gala in New York City. Among those honored this year were Jon M. Chu (yes, the guy who made the Justin Bieber movie -not kidding) who received the Princess Grace Statue and stage and screen legend Dame Julie Andrews DBE who was presented with the Prince Rainier III Award. She deserves any award she receives as far as I’m concerned and I doubt anyone would argue that. There was also a special luncheon in honor of the Princely couple attended by most of the social elites of New York City. If you’re somebody in the Big Apple -you were probably there. Keeping a busy schedule as usual, the next day the Prince and Princess of Monaco zipped up to Toronto, Canada to attend the opening of the “Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess” Exhibition. The special will run until January 22 and is based on the exhibition “The Grace Kelly Years” which has been such a big hit at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Princely Couple Interviewed on "Today"

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Albert I, the Paternal Prince

It seems to me that many people have a somewhat incomplete or even incorrect view of HSH Prince Albert I, great-great grandfather of the current Sovereign Prince of Monaco. All too often he is viewed as a rather distant and somewhat unfeeling man. However, this is not true. To be sure, he was a man of dignity and restraint and a man of science who could, as many men of science often are, appear indifferent to matters of the heart. However, Prince Albert I cared deeply for his country, his people and their welfare. This was seen from the very start of his reign at his formal enthronement in 1889. Upon the passing of his esteemed father, Prince Charles III, Albert revived an old Grimaldi family custom. He invited the heads of all the native Monegasque families to the Princely Palace. They gathered in the Court of Honor at which point Prince Albert I presented himself to them and asked if there were any who objected to his becoming their Sovereign Prince. Of course, none objected and the new Prince was acclaimed with great enthusiasm by the assembled patriarchs. At that point the gentlemen were ushered into the palace Throne Room where they showed their allegiance and the Prince greeted each one in turn. This was an ancient custom that the earliest Grimaldi rulers had practiced but which had fallen into disuse. Prince Albert I revived it as a way of strengthening the bonds of family loyalty between the people and their Sovereign Prince.

Of course, as we all know, for Prince Albert I, his life, his love and his lady was the sea and he was often absent on his voyages of scientific study and exploration. He was most comfortable on his yacht, dredging the ocean floor rather than mixing with the society elites and crowned heads of Europe who occupied the magnificent salons of Monte Carlo. He was also uncomfortable with the fashionable crowd because of his rather disapproving attitude toward gambling. He had never been enthusiastic about the gaming industry, set up during the reign of his father, yet he did recognize that it generated the income that allowed him to support the charitable and scientific causes he cared about and considered most important. Some of his lesser-known works include dispatching study missions abroad to learn ways of improving medical care in Monaco and adapting modern methods of education for the country. He also famously said that whenever there was any scientific study or research in need of assistance, “I will be there”. This, in part, also stemmed from his dim view of gambling. He knew that the wealthy elites poured money into Monaco by way of the gaming tables and he felt a little troubled by this so he was determined to ‘pay it back’ by advancing causes that would benefit everyone such as his scientific endeavors and his establishment of the Institute for Peace. He always sought to increase the knowledge and to make scientific knowledge more available for everyone in the world.

Prince Albert I was a sincere man of peace, having seen the horrors of war as an officer in the French navy in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. He had tried to avert the First World War but was obviously unsuccessful. However, he did prevent that massive conflict from possibly starting sooner. Since he was trusted and admired by both the French government and the German Kaiser Wilhelm II, he was often able to act as an unofficial intermediary and calm tensions between the two long-time rivals. One of his greatest successes came over the First Moroccan Crisis in 1905-1906. The German Kaiser had visited Morocco and spoke in favor of Moroccan independence which greatly offended the French and which France and Britain took as an act of hostility on the part of Germany against their colonial empires. Tensions flared between the UK, France, Russia, Italy and Spain on one side and Germany and Austria-Hungary on the other. War seemed eminent as Germany began calling up her reserves and French troops began moving to the eastern frontier and it was into this hostile atmosphere that Prince Albert I of Monaco stepped forward to try to bring about a peaceful settlement. In spite of all the tensions, the Prince got the French and Germans to agree to an international conference where Germany found she had scant support and was forced to back down and go along with France resuming her position of dominance in the region. During the Second Moroccan Crisis, Prince Albert I played no part at all as he viewed it as a simple grab for spoils and would not be part of it. The result of that conflict was another set-back for Germany and Morocco becoming a formal protectorate of France.

This was but one example of the many times Prince Albert I helped to smooth Franco-German relations. Most controversial, probably, was his role in the “Dreyfus Affair” in which he did play a part, defending the innocent Jewish officer and assisting several of the other victims of the wave of anti-Semitism that swept France in the aftermath of the sad episode. This should all serve to illustrate that Prince Albert I was more than just the "Sailor Prince" or purely interested in the science of oceanography and nothing else. He was a paternal, caring monarch, interested in "giving back", improving the lives of his people, furthering world progress and working for peace. He was a good guy.
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