Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 The Year in Review

2011 has been a busy year for Monaco and the Princely House of Grimaldi. In January, Prince Albert visited the Middle East, the Circus visited Monaco and Princess Caroline showed how good you can look at 54 (provided you are blessed with the proper genes). In February Princess-to-be Charlene returned to her native South Africa and did some swimming for charity and Prince Albert talked about the environment. In February the Prince came to the United States but later in the month tragedy struck with the passing of Princess Antoinette, Baroness de Massy, who had celebrated her 90th birthday only the month before. Monaco went into mourning and the Casiraghi Trio carried the proverbial torch at the Rose Ball which the senior members of the family did not attend. Before the month was out the Portalis Institute made the Sovereign Prince an honorary doctor. Sounds nice doesn’t it? “Our Prince, the doctor”. In April, Charlene officially joined the Roman Catholic Church (being an Olympic swimmer, swimming the Tiber was surely no chore). Prince Albert II and Charlene visited Ireland, the homeland of Princess Grace’s Kelly ancestors and later Prince Albert and his bride-to-be attended the grand royal wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton in London (taking down notes the whole time I’m sure).

The month of May saw Prince Albert jet down to South America and saw racing fans from all over the world gather in Monte Carlo for the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix. In June the Sovereign Prince visited Estonia and Charlene was named Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics. Albert and Charlene were featured on their own new stamps, Charlene appeared in Vogue magazine and the wedding preparations reached a frenzied pace. In July the big day came as Charlene Wittstock officially became Princess consort of Monaco in a fantastic, open-air wedding in the courtyard of the Princely Palace. Despite the efforts of a few malcontents and some stunning examples of yellow journalism, the day was a great success. The royal houses of the world were well represented and the people of Monaco were front and center to see the day many thought would never come, when the bachelor Prince of Monaco finally married. After the wedding the couple were off to South Africa for some Olympic business and later a secluded honeymoon. Princess Stephanie carried on just fine on her own at the Fight AIDS Monaco summer gala and later an upset Prince Albert took aim at the disreputable practices of the gossip-peddlers in the media who had tried so hard and so unsuccessfully to spoil his wedding day. One French magazine editor at least responded with reason and maturity -nah, just kidding, he actually called for Monaco to be invaded and taken over by France. That should show everyone just how credible he is!

In August, the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta (of which Albert is a member) came for a visit. The new Princely couple made a grand splash at the Red Cross Ball and a long-time anti-Monaco blogger (with an obsessive hatred of the Prince and all of his friends) was given a judicial smack-down by the French legal system. His effort to sue the entire country of Monaco was thrown out by the French court in September. Also that month, Prince Albert visited the Caucasus nation of Georgia followed by a visit to Mother Russia itself for an environmentalist conference in Archangel. Princess Stephanie, along with daughters Pauline and Camille visited Russia in September as well for the “Contest of the Circus Arts” at the Tenth International Youth Festival. Princess Caroline was busy in October, honoring the choreographer Robert Wilson who produced a musical on the life of Princess Grace and handing out the awards for the Prince Pierre Foundation. The President and First Lady of Croatia came to visit the Palace, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene went to Nepal and, in one of my favorite stories, a drunken Frenchman was sentenced to six days in jail for insulting the Sovereign Prince when the bar he stumbled into would sell him no alcohol. After sobering up the man apologized and said he was really quite fond of our Albie so we’ll let it go at that.

November had plenty of the usual appearances, visits, award ceremonies and the like for the Grimaldis. Prince Albert and Princess Charlene made their first trip to the United States as husband and wife, Princess Stephanie gave some nosy photographers an eye full on vacation and the Monegasque all came out for National Day to celebrate six years on the throne for Albert II. In December, Princess Stephanie put in extra duty for the week of World AIDS Day, Prince Albert attended an environmentalist conference in South Africa and Princess Charlene inaugurated her own charitable foundation which will focus on children followed by a happy round of the usual Christmas traditions. All in all, 2011 has been a great year for the Grimaldi family and the monarchy of Monaco. There was the occasional unpleasantness but, in the end, Prince Albert prevailed over his antagonists. The loss of Princess Antoinette was, no doubt, the lowest point but, given her age and infirmities, hardly unexpected. The crowning event, without question, was the Princely wedding, a glamorous and happy occasion many thought they would never see. Despite their detractors, Prince Albert and Princess Charlene have gotten off to a great start and in a year in which most of the rest of the world has known one crisis after another, Monaco has sailed on relatively unscathed with her Sovereign Prince at the helm, his new Princess by his side and with Caroline and Stephanie, each in their own unique way, serving their country, serving others and supporting their brother as only they can. Overall, a good year. Here’s hoping 2012 will be even better.

Happy New Year wishes to one and all and thanks for reading
Mad for Monaco.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The 2011 Monaco Madness Awards

Friends, Romans, Monegasque monarchists, we are gathered here today to honor the “epic wins” and “epic fails” of 2011. Let’s get right down to it shall we:

The Al Gore Award for obsessive environmentalism, once again, goes to HSH Prince Albert II for never missing a conference, awards ceremony or speech opportunity involving the environment, climate change and/or global warming. As usual, it wasn’t even close. Congrats!

The Charlie Sheen Award, for “WINNING!” goes to TSH Prince Albert and Princess Charlene together; Princess Charlene for swimming for charity, Prince Albert for promoting world peace through football and to the couple for actually putting a meeting of the International Olympic Committee before their own honeymoon. That, my friends, is dedication.

The Charlotte Casiraghi Award, for extreme gorgeousness above and beyond the call of duty goes, once again, to Charlotte Casiraghi. As usual, it wasn’t even close but, then again, there’s a reason why the gorgeousness award had to be named after Charlotte Casiraghi, the only girl gorgeous enough to win the Charlotte Casiraghi Award. Congrats!

The Cathy Barry Award, for having the most well-stocked dairy department of any princess over the age of 40 goes to HSH Princess Stephanie. Be proud of what you’ve got, why not. And how you got it is nobody’s business but your own. We love you unconditionally sweetheart. Additionally, the Little Jimmy Dickens Award for best monkeyshines goes to her daughter Camille for making faces at the paparazzi. You go girl!

The G.I. Jane Award for being a real trooper goes to HSH Princess Charlene for putting up with a media frenzy of rumors and gossip all intended to ruin the happiest day of her life -and never letting it get her down but pulling it all off like a pro.

The Bjorn Award for extreme boldness in fashion goes to Andrea Casiraghi for wearing zebra-striped shoes to the AMADE gala this year. Sorry Steph, this year your nephew takes the prize. Better luck next year.

The Buford Pusser Award for putting the smack-down on the bad guys goes to HSH Prince Albert II for taking the tabloids, media that act like tabloids and cranky old coots (who are totally not gay) to court for harassing his family and his country. Way to go Albie!

The Monaco Raspberry Award for being an example of an “epic fail” goes to Christophe Barbier, editor-in-chief of L’Express for actually calling for the annexation of Monaco by France because Prince Albert called him out for printing baseless accusations with no facts to back them up. Immature overreaction why not?

The Andy Dick Award for being a really big loser goes to French citizen “Hachim N” who was arrested for being roaring drunk in public and then was sentenced to six days in the dungeons of Monte Carlo for insulting the Sovereign Prince. LOSER!

Finally, closest to home, we have the oh-so prestigious Monaco Madness Medal which recognizes the weblog which has directed the most visitors to our humble corner of the internet. This year the Monaco Madness Medal goes to … (drum roll please) the blog Princesas to whom we owed over 5,000 visits last year, a landslide victory. Congratulations to Princesas and our sincerest thanks, you or your readers at least truly are Mad for Monaco. Wear your medal proudly.

Today in Monegasque History

Today in 1731 HSH Prince Jacques I became Sovereign Prince of Monaco upon the death of his wife Princess Louise-Hippolyte, ushering in the reign of the Mantignon branch of the family.

And it was on this day in 1983 that HSH Princess Caroline of Monaco married her soulmate Stefano Casiraghi at the Princely Palace, starting off what would probably be the happiest years of her life.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Prince Albert II Looks Back

In this recent radio interview, HSH Prince Albert II answers questions and takes a look back at 2011, a very eventful year for the Principality of Monaco and the House of Grimaldi.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Swim in the Sea

Sunday morning it was time for another famous Monaco Christmas tradition -the "Christmas Bath". Again this year, at Larvotto Beach, HSH Prince Albert II joined the crowd in taking a dip in the frigid sea. It was all very 'tribal' with drums beating and chants being shouted, driving out all thought of the cold. The Prince of Monaco came out to mingle with the assembled participants and pose for a few photographs before everyone stripped down to their swimwear and made a mad dash for the Mediterranean. After taking the plunge (and a dew more quick photos) it was time for an even faster mad dash back to the waiting warmth. Everyone looked to be having fun, but I cannot imagine how. If your humble blogger was ever forced to do such a thing (for I would never do it willingly) I have no doubt I would die as soon as I touched the water. Bbbbrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Busy Days for the Grimaldis

On Wednesday, Prince Albert II was at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco for a special conference on Antarctica where the Sovereign Prince discussed his favorite subject, climate change, and how that is impacting the south polar region as well as new innovations and marking the 100th anniversary of Roald Amundsen reaching the South Pole (something Prince Albert did in 2009). Meanwhile, on Friday, Princess Charlene dropped by to visit the students at Charles III College before attending a special mass at the college and then having the students and staff over to the Princely Palace for a little Christmas party. A very special holiday event, no doubt.

It was also recently announced that the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation will be teaming up with the American Museum of Natural History to support conservation efforts in the Solomon Islands (a Commonwealth Realm in the Pacific near New Guinea which saw some fierce battles with the Japanese in World War II). There is evidently some concern over the preservation of the bio-diversity of the region due to the islands being at the center of the crossroads of oil exploration and maritime trade. We will have to wait and see how that develops.

And finally, Princess Charlene was in Germany yesterday where she attended the "Heart for the Children" charity gala in Berlin (and there's nothing the Grimaldis love more than a good gala). This is one of the biggest television-charity events in Germany and Princess Charlene had a number of friends among the group. As well as being there to support their efforts, Princess Charlene was honored herself, being awarded the "Golden Heart" for her charity work and devotion to humanitarian causes. The Princess of Monaco said she accepted the award on behalf of all the volunteers who devote their time to helping children. Good works connected with the little ones have always been at the top of Charlene's priorities as Princess of Monaco and it was nice to see her recognized for this. Keep up the good work!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Tradition in Monaco

On Wednesday it was time again for a favorite Grimaldi Christmas tradition, handing out Christmas presents to all the good little boys and girls (all of them I'm sure) of Monaco at the Princely Palace. Readers will recall that Princess Charlene participated in this tradition last year, but this was her first time passing out the gifts as Princess of Monaco. Unlike last year though, Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie were nowhere to be seen, but the Princely Couple, with Santa Claus of course, got it all done in fine fashion (in 2009 Princess Alexandra helped out). This is such a great tradition, imagine the memories that are made and the stories that will be told about such occasions for a lifetime to come. It also shows how oh-so-sadly wrong are those republican humbugs who insist that all monarchies and all royals are remote and aloof. In Monaco there is nothing the Princely Family loves more than to celebrate special occasions with their wider family; the Monegasque. And, as the second picture above shows, you know you've reached the top when even Santa bows his head to you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Albert and Caroline, Doing Good

The Prince and Princess of Monaco are home again from their ‘green-themed’ visit to South Africa and everyone is feeling charitable and in the Christmas spirit. On Monday the Sovereign Prince made his way to Residence Cap Fleuri to hand out a pile of presents to the local residents for Noel Croix Rouge. Everyone looked pleased to see him and it is always nice to see the personal touch Prince Albert has always displayed toward the neighbors of Monaco. And, while Prince Albert was getting into the Christmas spirit, HRH Princess Caroline of Hanover was attending the Menschen in Europa Charity Awards at the Media Centre of Passau in the Federal Republic of Germany. The Princess spoke to the assembled dignitaries about her deep-seated commitment to Amade Mondiale, the World Association of Children’s Friends which is the one charitable organization most near and dear to her heart.

Monday, December 12, 2011

WOWSA Woman of the Year Nominee Princess Charlene

We note, of course, Princess Charlene is a "Serene" Highness, not a "Royal" Highness -they got it right in the begining but slipped up at the end there. Anyway, here's hoping she wins!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

More Green News and a New Foundation

Still in South Africa, on Thursday, TSH Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene met with Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in Cape Town. After exchanging greetings Princess Charlene presented the archbishop with a check for one million Rand (South African dollars) for his charity The Giving Organization; a group Princess Charlene has had an interest in for some time. Afterwards the Princely couple were off to the Cape Town Clock Tower to attend the Polaris Climate Change Observatory hosted by the Polar International Foundation. I hope that all went well (what do you say to that? "I hope you observe alot of climate change" doesn't really sound right does it?).

In other news, people have been talking about it for quite a while and now (fanfare here) it has been announced officially. Starting next year the new Princess consort will have her very own charitable foundation called (are you ready for this?) The Princess Charlene Foundation. She'll have her own website and everything, it's going to be terrific. According to the official announcement details about what the foundation will actually do will be forthcoming in 2012 when it all gets started. However, I think it would be safe to say that, knowing Princess Charlene as we do, we can probably expect it to involve children and sports to a large extent. Good for her. There is no better sign that you are getting into the 'groove' of being royalty than establishing your own charitable foundation. I'm sure it will be a great source of good to many people.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Prince Albert, Saving the Planet

What's that up in the sky? A French aristocrat? A wealthy businessman? The sovereign of a European microstate? No, it's Prince Albert - Savior of the Planet! Okay, all joking aside, our favorite Prince is once again united with his true love. Princess Charlene? No, his other true love (alright, last one, I promise) environmentalists! On Tuesday Prince Albert II was in Durban, South Africa where, in the presence of presidents, prime ministers and other assorted dignitaries he officially opened the "High Level Segment of the United Nations Climate Change Conference" aka COP17. For those of you not keeping up, "climate change" is what used to be known as "global warming" before everything started freezing and people started to wonder what was up with that. The Prince gave a speech about climate change and the impact it was having on the environment and kudos to him for being able to still say something new on this subject when he's been speaking on this exact topic for what seems like almost his entire life. But that's our Albie, saving the world from climate change one speech and awards ceremony at a time. God love him.

Yesterday he teamed up with Princess Charlene (who is no doubt enjoying this trip to her South African homeland) for the UNEP "One Billion Tree Campaign" (shouldn't that be "trees"?) or "Climate Action Networking Reception" because if there's one thing that is going to get us off of fossil fuels and stop Chinese air pollution, it's networking and receptions. I'm sorry, I really need to tone down the sarcasm but as long-time readers will know, I've just never been able to get on the whole environmentalism bandwagon. The way I see it, human beings are still a far greater danger to each other than we are to the planet. I tend to think the planet will be here long after we've managed to kill each other off completely. In any event, the Green crusader from Monte Carlo continues to forge ahead on his quest to save planet Earth and, at this particular event, the Sovereign Prince paid tribute to the Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maatai, alas no longer on this mortal coil, who founded Kenya's "Green Belt Movement". Surely, a man after the Prince's own heart. All joking aside though, anything that can be done to make the planet a cleaner, healthier place, I am all for and wish them the best in their ongoing efforts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Red-White and Green in Monaco

Yep, even Santa Claus likes to vacation in Monaco, and a man dressed in red and white always fits right in. Yesterday, Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene attended the opening of the Monaco Christmas Village in Port Hercules, taking in the shops and displays all done up in 19th Century style with lots of Christmas goodies available for visitors. Last Friday the Prince opened the 2011 MonacoPhil Stamp show in Fontvieille which had displays of some particularly rare stamps from the collections of HM Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and the Sovereign Prince himself. Today though the Princely Couple are on their way to South Africa where they will be out and about attending a number of events revolving around that subject nearest and dearest to the heart of Prince Albert II; the environment, climate change and all that stuff.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Princess Stephanie and World AIDS Day

As everyone knows, HSH Princess Stephanie of Monaco has adopted the victims of AIDS as the primary focus of her many charitable efforts. Yesterday was World AIDS Day and Princess Stephanie has been very busy, for many days ahead of time, getting ready for the one day each year when global attention is focused on a problem she cares deeply about. Monday found her at Monaco's Harley Motor Club where, in cooperation with the big hearted bikers, she presented three counterpanes that pay tribute to people who have died from AIDS. For those not into sewing and such things, counterpanes are basically the fabric blocks that make up a patchwork quilt. These will be sent to the Names Project AIDS Memorial quilt in the United States shortly.

Wednesday Princess Stephanie, along with Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, were at the Sporting Club to collect their share of the winnings from the casinos. By special agreement a portion of all money from the slot machines at the Casino Cafe de Paris and Sun Casino Jackpots are donated to Monaco-based charities, including, of course, a percentage going to Fight AIDS Monaco among others. Prince Albert II initiated this policy last year, ensuring that, if gambling is a vice, it can at least be one that benefits those in need.

On Thursday night, Princess Stephanie was at the Hotel Meridien Beach Plaza for the annual charity auction, along with Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene with part of the benefits going to Fight AIDS Monaco. The items for sale included a sketch by famed actor Robert Redford, a large wedding portrait of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene as well as a bust of Princess Stephanie (I would have bid a few large for that) which went for over 100,000 euros (so I would have lost). Princess Stephanie is really tireless when it comes to this issue and she is very passionate about it. She's a real champion.

Remembering Pope John Paul I

I was recently remembering the all too short-lived Pope John Paul I, of whom Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace were quite fond. Here is a photographic look back:

Pope John Paul I meets Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III shortly after his election.

The effects of the "Smiling Pope" are evident on the faces of those who saw him.

Sadly, the next trip to the Vatican by the Princely Couple would be for the Pontiff's funeral.

Their sorrow was clearly evident.

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