Friday, July 31, 2009

2009 Red Cross Ball

HSH Prince Albert II, HSH Princess Stephanie and Albert's girlfriend Charlene Wittstock yesterday attended the 61st annual Red Cross Ball at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club. The theme for the ball this year was a combination "Latin Summer" and "Miami Party" and, as such, the featured guest star was the iconic Gloria Estefan. However, royal watchers were disappointed that HRH Princess Caroline was not in attendance nor were any of the "Casiraghi trio". The boys, Andrea and Prierre have not often attended though the very photo-friendly Charlotte has often done so. This year, however, she was at a horse show in Brazil at the time. The absence of Princess Caroline has been more baffling. Over the years she has only missed the Red Cross Ball twice; the first after the death of her beloved husband Stefano Casiraghi and the second time for the birth of her daughter Princess Alexandra.

Other celebrities on hand were Prince Alexander von Schaumburg-Lippe and his wife Princess Nadja, Shirley Bassey, Buzz Aldrin and Ivanna Trump but other faces often present in the past such as Laurent of Belgium, the Serbian and Italian royals have also not attended nor were familiar faces from Princess Antoinette's family to be found. All of this has again sparked talk common in the last few years that the Red Cross Ball is no longer *the* social event of the season that it once was. Nonetheless, one should always keep in mind that the point of it all is to raise money for the Red Cross and that, like every year, was certainly done and will do many people around the world a great deal of good. Big sister may have been absent but Prince Albert and Princess Stephanie always seem to light up a room, and each other, whenever they appear together.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

H.S.H. Princess Alice

Alice Heine was Albert's second wife, and he was her second husband she having been previously married to the Duc d'Richelieu. She was an American, born in the French Quarter of New Orleans into a very rich and well-connected family. The family moved to France because of the Civil War in America where she became known in the high society circles and her family gained prestige when her father helped pay for Napoleon III's (doomed) war against the Germans. She married the Duc d'Richelieu in 1875 and after his death she married Albert I in 1889. She is said to have been the business-savy one of the couple who made Monaco economically stable. She was also a patron of the arts, opera, theater and usual things but especially the opera. She put the opera, theater and ballet of Monaco on the European map. Rumors of an affair between her and the composer Isidore de Lara enraged Albert I, though he had his failings too. The couple parted in 1902 but never divorced. Her former home in New Orleans is now the Princess of Monaco Carriage House and Courtyard and advertises itself as a setting for weddings, receptions, special parties and the like.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

H.S.H. Princess Catherine-Charlotte

One of the most famous and controversial princess consorts of Monaco was Catherine-Charlotte de Gramont, wife of HSH Prince Louis I of Monaco. She was born probably sometime in 1639 into a very prominent French family. Her father was Marshal of France Antoine III de Gramont and her mother was Francoise-Marguerite du Plessis-Chivre whose uncle was none other than His Eminence Cardinal Richelieu. Catherine was the eldest daughter but just as if not more famous than she was to be was her older brother Armand de Gramont, Comte de Guiche. Armand was famous for being extremely handsome, extremely rude and difficult and irresistible to men and women alike. He was the paramour of the husband and wife pair Philippe I, Duke of Orleans, and Henrietta Anne Stuart.

HSH Prince Honore II of Monaco had worked throughout his reign to transfer Monaco from the Spanish to the French camp and he arranged for King Louis XIV of France to be godfather to his grandson and heir Louis. He also arranged for Louis to be married to someone very prominent in the French court and Catherine-Charlotte de Gramont was the choice. In 1660 she and Louis were married and only two years later Honore II died making Catherine and her husband Sovereign Prince and Princess Consort of Monaco. Catherine-Charlotte must have seemed like quite a catch. She was described as being very beautiful, highly intelligent and humorously witty. She was, though, some 3 years older than her husband and came into the marriage with some reluctance. She had previously been in love with her cousin Antonin Nompar, Marquis de Puyguilheim. However, the marriage seemed to be fruitful as Catherine gave birth to a son and heir in 1661 who would eventually succeed to the throne as Prince Antoine I of Monaco.
When Honore II died Prince Louis I, Princess Catherine and baby Antoine had to pack up and travel to Monaco to handle the transfer of power. Catherine was very upset about having to leave Paris and was not impressed with her new principality when the couple arrived in Monaco.
From the glittering court of Louis XIV she found herself faced with her new country which, from
what she could see, was simply a castle and a small coastal village. The Princely Palace was, of course, quite luxurious on the inside but Catherine did not make much of a secret of the fact that she considered her presence in Monaco to be a sacrifice for someone of her background. Nonetheless, she was kept busy in Monaco giving birth to a daughter a year for three years in a row. Perhaps thinking she had done her duty by then, Princess Catherine then moved back to Paris and resumed her affair with her cousin Nompar. King Louis XIV was outraged, probably mostly because he had his eye on Catherine himself, and ordered Nompar to make himself scarce. When Nompar unwisely refused King Louis locked him in the Bastille for six months. Open defiance of an absolute monarch is not usually a good idea.

The Princess of Monaco was thus forced to cool her ardor for her cousin but there were plenty of other opportunities for scandalous behavior. She became very close friends with her brother’s lover Princess Henrietta Anne Stuart, youngest daughter of King Charles I of Britain and herself a sister-in-law and former lover of the King of France. Catherine’s aunt, Suzanne Charlotte de Gramont, Marquise de Saint Chaumont, was attached to Henrietta’s household and governess of her two daughters. Catherine’s husband, Prince Louis I, came to Paris and also spent most of his time away from Monaco but was usually dispatched on military and diplomatic missions for Louis XIV. In part, his absences were diplomatic as Louis XIV himself took Catherine as one of his many mistresses after he lost interest in Louise de la Valliere but this lasted only a few months.

In fact, the match had, in part, been a set-up. Princess Henrietta had aimed her friend at the king to distract him from Valliere so that she could become his primary mistress again. It did not work out as Henrietta planned however and when Louis XIV tired of Catherine he turned to the famous Madame de Montespan. There were even rumors that at the same time Catherine was having an affair with Henrietta herself but there is no real evidence of this and may have been the result of a guilt-by-association mentality because of her brother’s affairs with the Orleans couple. The Princess of Monaco then had an affair with the Chevalier de Lorraine, a friend of the Duke of Orleans. This put off Henrietta and their friendship effectively ended. No longer welcome at court she returned with her husband to Monaco for the next four years.

In 1672 France and Holland went to war and Prince Louis I was recalled to duty and sent to the front which allowed Catherine to return to Paris. She would remain there the rest of her life and first received a position as lady-in-waiting to Madame de Montespan. King Louis gave her a house at St Germain where she spent the last six years of her life which was cut short by her death in Paris on June 4, 1678 at the age of 39. She had spent enough time with her husband to give him six children but her short life had mostly been a succession of affairs and scandalous behavior from end to end. As more recent famous figures of wild reputation might say, she lived fast, died young and left a good looking corpse.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Prince Honors Astronaut

Today HSH Prince Albert II honored US Astronaut and moon landing veteran Buzz Aldrin (who is 79-years-old) for his trailblazing space exploration work. Actually, the honor was given by the Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco.

Albert and Charlene Out & About

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and girlfriend Charlene Wittstock have been quite the pair lately, taking in a number of events together in the last few days. There was Albert's inauguration as one of 40 new "protectors of the jury"; that is an unofficial ambassador for the wine industry of Bordeaux which was followed by an excursion to a scenic French beach at St. Tropez which (from the photos) was obviously "clothing optional" but Albert gallantly shielded a blushing Charlene from some of the more "unsightly" views. Most recently the pair attended the 13th FINA World Championship at Foro Italico Swimming Complex in Rome, Italy yesterday. All these photo-ops together have, of course, set some gossiper tongues wagging, but cooler heads will remember that we have seen the like before though it is probably safe to say that no other woman so far as been so prominently featured at official events with the Sovereign Prince as his past associations. What can be said with certainty is that none of the talk has had the slightest effect on Albert II who continues on his own path at his own pace.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

H.S.H. Prince Honore II

Honore II was the first Grimaldi to officially be titled as “Prince of Monaco”. He was the son of Lord Hercules I of Monaco, who was the brother of Lord Charles II, and Maria Landi. During this period Monaco had fallen within the Spanish sphere of influence which was often heavy-handed and causing considerable discontent among the Monegasque. There had also been numerous attacks and conspiracies against Monaco originating from Provence or the House of Savoy. In 1604 Lord Hercules I was assassinated and Honore II, who was only 6-years-old, became Lord of Monaco. Because of his age he was acted for by his uncle Frederico Landi, Prince of Val di Taro, who was very much a Spanish partisan and the year after Honore’s succession he allowed Monaco to be garrisoned by even more Spanish troops.

The people of Monaco were disarmed, forbidden to carry weapons and young Honore and his two sisters had to relocate to Milan for a time. Needless to say the regent became very unpopular amongst the Monegasque and the ruling Council of Monaco tried to limit Spanish influence but there was little they could do. The Spanish did try to maintain good relations with the young Grimaldi monarch, granting him the Order of the Golden Fleece. They also confirmed the title of Prince for Honore II, which had been used before but simply as a courtesy. Now it was official making Honore II “Prince and Lord of Monaco“. However, these outward displays did not appease the people who were outraged by the abolition of communal prerogatives by the regent Landi. The Spanish also encourage Honore II to mint his own coinage but more or less hinted that he should be content to entertain foreign guests and live a life of idle luxury while they and their supporters ruled Monaco.

Honore II did take the advice of the Spanish -but only to some extent. He made Monaco a haven for poets, artists, musicians and so on. Monaco’s Princely Palace gained a reputation across the civilized world as a center of great culture and learning. The art collection of Prince Honore was one of the most respectable in Europe. However, that sparkling reputation ran headlong into ugly reality in 1631 when a plague swept the tiny country, supposedly spread by some infected linens from La Turbie that had been brought to Monaco for washing. Strict quarantine laws were put into effect, forcing people to remain in their homes and forbidding any congregating and most social interaction. However, some monks finally arrived from Nice and announced that the cause of the disease was nothing fancier than dirt and led practically the whole population to the seaside for a huge, national mass-bath. People brought their clothes and their furniture and washed them as well. Homes were scrubbed and fumigated and a cleansing rain even fell to help matters and as the monks had promised the plague lifted.

Meanwhile, Honore II was planning big changes for Monaco; the most important of which was the desire of the Francophile Honore II to take Monaco out of the grip of Spain and ally with France. The situation was growing increasingly critical. At one point the Spanish troops occupying Monaco asked permission to pillage the Princely Palace they were officially there to protect because their had been in arrears for so long. Working secretly Prince Honore II negotiated the Treaty of Peronne with France’s famous Cardinal Richelieu acting on behalf of King Louis XIII. The treaty stipulated that Monaco become a French protectorate but that the independent status of the Prince should remain and that he be granted compensating lands in France for any potential losses he would suffer in breaking away from Spain. French troops were to garrison Monaco but the officers in charge would be answerable to the Prince of Monaco rather than the French authorities. Most importantly Monegasque independence was to be maintained.

On November 17, 1641 Honore II carried out what was effectively a coup in his own country against the Spanish. He quickly arrested numerous individuals known to be in league with the Spanish and that evening threw a lavish banquet for the Spanish troops and their officers. The soldiers were given generous quantities of liquor to take the fight out of them and then, at a given moment, a canon shot signaled an attack as the Monegasque sprang on the Spanish and French troops came rushing out of their hiding places to overwhelm them and force their surrender. With only 5 killed and 10 wounded the Spanish gave up and Monaco had officially changed camps. Prince Honore II published an official document to the great powers of Europe explaining why he had done what he did and he also returned his Order of the Golden Fleece. As expected the Spanish confiscated all of the Prince’s property in Spain and rescinded all of his privileges and honors but the French would make good the loss.

Part of that compensation was when Louis XIII made Honore II the Duke of Valentinois, Count of Carladez, Baron of Buis and Calvinet as well as the lands and title of St Remy. The monarchs of France and Monaco became so close that in due time King Louis XIV would stand as godfather to Honore II’s grandson who was also named Louis. One of his last tasks was a diplomatic balancing act with the exiled British House of Stuart. The French were natural allies of the Jacobites and Charlotte de Gramont, wife of Honore’s heir Louis of Monaco, was a close friend of the widowed Queen Henrietta Maria. James, Duke of York (later King James II), wanted to assemble a fleet in Monaco for the invasion of England and restoration of the monarchy. The powerful Cardinal Mazarin, however, was anxious to make peace with the Commonwealth of Oliver Cromwell and enlist his help against the Spanish. So, he instructed Honore II to give every courtesy to the Duke of York but not to allow any hostile force to embark from Monaco. Honore did his job well and, though the Stuarts were disappointed, everything worked out to Mazarin’s satisfaction. Prince Honore II died on January 10, 1662 a very popular and successful monarch. He had removed them from being under the heavy hand of Spain and kept the country independent while allied to the powerful French. His cultural achievements and the prestige he gained led him to be known as the “Louis XIV of Monaco”.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

H.S.H. Prince Antoine I

Prince Antoine I was the son of Louis I and came to the throne at the age of 40 upon the death of his father in 1701. On June 13, 1688 he had married Marie of Lorraine, daughter of the Comte de Armagnac at Versailles in a marriage that had been arranged by King Louis XIV himself. It would prove to be less than a joyous union and Prince Antoine became so frustrated with her that it was a relief to him when she abandoned him in all but name. She rarely set foot in Monaco but in those days the Reigning Prince himself was often absent as well and Antoine was no different. Like many before him and many who would follow after him on the throne of Monaco. During the War of the Grand Alliance (King William’s War in America) he fought in the German campaign of 1688 with the French army and participated in the great sieges of Mons and Namur. It was only shortly after succeeded to the Monegasque throne that Prince Antoine I was swept up with most of the rest of Europe in the War of the Spanish Succession which his father had hoped but failed to avoid diplomatically.

The Principality of Monaco itself was to become involved eventually when Savoy joined the alliance against France and thus threatened Nice and Monaco in 1705. It was a critical time for Monaco as she was threatened from the sea by the British Royal Navy and from the mountains by Savoyard troops. Prince Antoine wished to rush French troops to La Turbie (the sight of a great victory by Emperor Augustus in Roman times) which was a very strategic position and guarded by a respectable fortress. It was also contested by both Monaco and Savoy. However, the French commander on the Italian front, Marshal de La Feuillade, Duc de Roannais, refused to divert forces to defend La Turbie and instead ordered the fortress destroyed so as to deny it to the enemy. It should be kept in mind that La Feuillade owed his rank solely to family connections, was very young, inexperienced, arrogant and would ultimately prove quite inadequate to the task. Nonetheless, he was in command and his orders were carried out though he even managed to botch the demolition work and only half of the main tower was destroyed in the explosion.

Meanwhile, Prince Antoine worked feverishly to fortify Monaco and it is to his credit that he was able to scrape together the money, men and equipment to strengthen the defenses of his small country. His fortifications can still be seen in Monaco today in the old part of town and visitors can see the plaque marking “Fort Antonius”. Certainly Prince Antoine never would have imagined that the bastions he built would one day be firing canon salutes to American actress coming to marry the Prince of Monaco. Prince Antoine also looked to mother nature to help defend Monaco and some remnants are still around today. In the absence of modern obstructions like barbed wire, Prince Antoine had plants such as aloe, agave and prickly pear cactus planted along the walls to bedevil attacking troops. All of this required no small amount of sacrifice on the part of Prince Antoine since the high living of Louis I had left him with very little money. To build all of these new battlements in Monaco he melted down his own silver and sold the family jewels. However, he was not just concerned with military defense but also the welfare of his people and oversaw the construction of huge underground bunkers for the public in the event of enemy shelling and dug cisterns to hold an ample supply of water in the event of a siege. These improvements continued until 1713 (only a year before the war ended).
By 1713 negotiations for ending the war were already underway and Prince Antoine and all of Monaco was in danger of being sold out by their protecting power; France. During the haggling over the Treaty of Utrecht the Duke of Savoy demanded that the Principality be turned over to him but King Louis XIV protested that he could not simply hand over Monaco as it was an independent country and not his to give or take. However, Monaco did not survive completely unscathed. The continued independence of Monaco and the protectorate with France was maintained but the outlying towns of Menton and Roquebrune were forced to recognize Savoy as their overlord. This would contribute to the longstanding ambiguity over the status of Menton and Roquebrune for some time to come. Prince Antoine was deeply distressed by this but there was very little he could do about it and was at least grateful that Monaco itself remained as it had been. With the crisis of the war over Prince Antoine could turn his attention to problems closer to home, specifically his lack of a male heir.

The marriage with Marie of Lorraine had produced six children but of these only two daughters survived; Princess Louise Hippolyte and Princess Margaretha. With no son attention quickly focused on Princess Louise Hippolyte as the future heir to the throne and even at the age of 15 the matter of her marriage became of the utmost importance to the principality. The only other candidate was Prince Antoine’s brother who was perfectly willing to assume the throne but who could have only been a temporary solution at best as he was a priest. Prince Antoine wished for the name of the Grimaldi family to survive and so for that reason favored his eldest daughter marrying someone who was not so high up the social ladder that he would protest against changing his name and becoming a Grimaldi. There were many schemes and intrigues surrounding the potential marriage of Louise Hippolyte before she was finally engaged to Jacques de Goyon Mantignon, Comte de Thorigny. He was a descendant of the famous Marshal Jacques de Mantignon who had refused to follow his orders to participate in the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre. However, the intrigues surrounding Louise-Hippolyte were to continue even after her marriage.

Prince Antoine also had at least three illegitimate children, one of whom was to become very important for Monaco later which was Antoine Grimaldi, named for his father, but who is better known to history as the Chevalier de Grimaldi who would, in the future, rule Monaco quite capably as Governor-General and regent of Monaco. Prince Antoine had a great deal of problems when it came to his private life as a husband and father but no one could doubt his skill and bravery as a soldier or his abilities as a statesman. In Monaco he was very popular as the people recognized his work to protect them and make their lives better. He was a patron of the arts, supported numerous painters and was passionate about music. Under his rule many great artists, musicians and the like came to Monaco which even then began to have a reputation amongst the states of Europe as a place of refinement and high culture. He died on February 20, 1731 and the tumultuous reign of Princess Louise-Hippolyte began.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

H.S.H. Prince Honore IV

Prince Honore IV was born on May 17, 1758 to Prince Honore III and Princess Maria-Caterina de Brignole-Sale. He suffered probably more than any other of his family from the consequences of the French Revolution. He had the misfortune to be in Paris when the Reign of Terror erupted and he was quickly arrested and thrown into prison. His ex-wife, the Duchess Mazarin, was also arrested by with the help of their family doctor managed to escape with their son Prince Florestan and successfully save themselves. For 15 months he wasted away in confinement, growing weaker and in poorer health. On March 21, 1795 his father died and he became Prince Honore IV of Monaco though at the time the monarchy had been abolished and Monaco annexed to the French Republic as Fort Hercules. Even after his release from prison it took seven years of negotiating before the French regime restored some fraction of their income to Honore IV and his brother Prince Joseph.

However, the future looked brighter for the Grimaldis when the radical elements of the revolution were succeeded by the Consulate and finally the first French Empire of Napoleon Bonaparte. Prince Joseph was to go on to a relatively high placed and distinguished career in the French Imperial forces and Honore IV could have likely enjoyed similar treatment. Unfortunately, his long confinement had left him so sick and frail that he had to restrict himself to the least amount of activity possible. His son, Prince Honore-Gabriel (born in 1778), was able to join his uncle in the imperial service joining a cavalry regiment at the age of 20 and rising through the ranks to become an officer on the staff of Marshal Grouchy and went on to win many laurels in the French Imperial Army.

When the Napoleonic Wars finally ended Monaco was restored by the Congress of Vienna thanks to Prince Talleyrand. However, as Honore IV was still too ill to assume the government of his principality he appointed his brother Prince Joseph as regent on his behalf. Troubles arose though when Joseph stayed in Paris and left Monaco to be administered by a governor. Prince Honore-Gabriel also protested at his uncle being given the position rather than himself. To avoid further trouble Prince Joseph resigned the post and Honore IV appointed Honore-Gabriel regent. He ruled Monaco for the rest of his life while the nominal Sovereign Prince Honore IV remained in Paris where he died on February 16, 1819.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

H.S.H. Prince Honore III

Prince Honore III was born on November 10, 1720 and after coming to the Monegasque throne in 1733 he reigned for nearly 60 years; one of the longest reigns in European history. He came to the throne just after turning 14 when his father, Prince Jacques I, abdicated and so he was acted for be the Chevalier de Grimaldi who ruled quite capably in the minority of the young prince and during his extensive absences. Prince Honore III spent much of his time away on campaign with the Royal French Army fighting the English in the War of the Austrian Succession. He and his brother Prince Charles Maurice, a Knight of Malta, so distinguished themselves at the battle of Fontenoy, a great French victory, that even Voltaire was singing their praises. Honore III was wounded fighting in the French victory at Rocoux. Later, at the battle of Lauffeld he had a horse shot out from under him but earned the Cross of St Louis for his conduct and after the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 he was given the rank of Marshal of France.

What is interesting is that despite the heroic service of Honore III in the wars, the Principality of Monaco was neutral in the conflict and, administered by the Chevalier de Grimaldi, was assisted both French and English ships in need of help. The Austrians and Sardinians did blockade the Monegasque coast for a time and much of the countryside was pillaged by Croat soldiers of the Austrian army but French forces later cleared the region of all invaders in 1748. In 1757 Honore III married Maria-Caterina di Brignole-Sale who was descended from the Doges of Genoa. This meant a very proud family and the arrival of the bride-to-be in Monaco turned into a disaster as many of the bridal attendants were seasick and the future mother-in-law insisted that Honore III come onboard to greet his fiancé and escort her ashore. However, as a monarch in his own right, Honore III refused as it was considered a breach of protocol for a prince to go to meet someone rather than they being brought to meet him. A stand-off ensued and eventually the Genoese fleet sailed away and stopped farther up the coast before a compromise was negotiated by which the couple would meet in the middle of a bridge extended between ship and shore. Nonetheless, the two were married and in 1768 the future Prince Honore IV was born followed by Prince Joseph some years later.

In 1767 the British Duke of York was sailing from Marseilles to Genoa when he was suddenly taken ill and had to put in at Monaco. Prince Honore III quickly offered all the help he could and put his palace at the disposal of the Prince who died after 11 days in what has forever after been known as the York Room of the Princely Palace. The Duke of Gloucester and King George III were extremely grateful for the care Honore III had given their brother and sent him gifts of horses that had belonged to the Duke of York and invited Honore III to London where he went in 1768 and was received by King George with great honor and ceremony. In 1770 Honore III and Princess Maria-Caterina divorced, not surprising given the character of the pair, and she later married the Prince de Conde in 1798.

In the meantime Honore III did what he could to guide his little principality along, improving trade and the economy which was heavily dependent on growing citrus fruits such as lemons in those days. His reign also saw the establishment of the first printing press in Monaco and the first newspaper the Courrier de Monaco. However, in 1784 the Prince and people of Monaco suffered a terrible loss with the death of the Chevalier de Grimaldi though the reign of Honore III saw the births of a number of famous Monegasque who would go on to great renown in the arts such as Langld, Bosio, Alphonse de Beauchamp and so on. Monaco went through something of an age of flowering and prosperity in the years leading up to great turmoil.

Prince Honore III did take the initiative in pushing for some reforms, the most major of which was the repeal of the law that the Sovereign Prince would receive the inheritance of anyone who died on his property. On August 18, 1770 Honore saw the practice, which he viewed as barbaric, abolished. As France slipped increasingly rapidly toward revolution things in Monaco remained calm and peaceful until the fateful day of July 14, 1789; the date of the storming of the Bastille. The shock spread to Monaco where crowds embraced the Declaration of the Rights of Man, influenced by the rise of republicanism in France as well as some newly introduced nostalgia for the Genoese Republic. At the outset the mob seemed to hold now vehement ill-will against their Prince and were content to allow him to retain his palace and even role as Chief Executive, but he could only consider laws that were passed to him by a democratically elected assembly of the people.

Honore III saw no choice but to allow the major towns of Monaco to form their own assemblies. Since his actual position was not yet being threatened he was more concerned with the loss of his noble titles in France at the hands of the French National Constituent Assembly which was intent on abolishing all aristocratic privileges. However, things were quickly spiraling out of control as the revolutionary elements in Monaco grew increasingly radical and Honore III began issuing restraining edicts against them. Moods began to shift and the public that had viewed the monarchy as rather benign now began to rail against it as despotic and call for the abolition of the Principality. Yet, as things were boiling over in Monaco, Honore III rushed to Paris to try to defend his titles there before the Constituent Assembly.

It may have been a mistake but to the surprise of many Honore III was extremely convincing when dealing with the French revolutionaries. He played on the strain of nationalism then at play by reminding them that his family had been given these titles for their great deeds on the battlefield, fighting in the service of France. His estates were, therefore, not the gift of the King of France alone but payment for services rendered in the cause of French national glory. He struck just the right cord and the Assembly voted a generous pension for the Prince of Monaco in reparation for his confiscated properties. Unfortunately, before the order could be carried out canon were firing in the streets, Danton came to power and the republic was declared. In all the turmoil France lost interest in Monaco and ultimately all Honore was able to gain was a recognition from the republican government of Monegasque neutrality. Unfortunately, that was a promise that would never be respected.

The French Republic declared their expansionist policy at the end of 1792, announcing that wherever their forces marched they would destroy monarchy and impose the French revolutionary model of government. Monaco quickly fell victim to this policy and on January 13, 1793 Prince Honore III was officially declared deposed by the Monegasque National Convention and, like the good little client-state puppets that they were, immediately petitioned France for annexation. Some in France did protest on the grounds that Honore III had always been a loyal friend and ally of the French, but republican hatred of monarchy prevailed and Monaco was absorbed into the French Republic and renamed Fort Hercules.

Seeing which way the wind was blowing Honore III tried to gain the favor of the new masters of France and Monaco by monetary donations and even gifting some of his famous horses for the republican army; but it was to no avail. At the height of the Reign of Terror Honore III was arrested as was his son, Honore IV, who had been in Paris at the time and who would remain imprisoned for 15 months. His ex-wife, former daughter-in-law of Honore III, the Duchess Mazarin was also arrested but she and her son Prince Florestan were saved by their family doctor who managed to arrange their escape and hide them away. Honore III’s other son Prince Joseph and his wife Princess Francoise-Therese had left France fairly early on, leaving their children in the safe custody of some close friends. However, Princess Francoise-Therese found in unbearable to be away from her two daughters and returned to France to see them. She was quickly arrested as a ‘class enemy’ and condemned to death by the revolutionary officials. Her execution was postponed when she announced she was with child. She cut off her hair with a piece of broken glass to give to her children and wrote that she was, “a foreign princess dying through the injustice of French judges”. She was only 26 years old when she was beheaded.

Fortunately for the rest of the family most of the so-called suspects who were arrested were eventually released. Honore III had suffered greatly from his own imprisonment and after his release had to stay in his house on the rue de Varennes as the Princely Palace in Monaco had been confiscated by the revolution though, thankfully, there was no ‘Reign of Terror’ or mass arrests and bloodshed in Monaco. Overcome with sadness, suffering, a number of ailments and the ravages of old age Prince Honore III of Monaco died on March 21, 1795.

Fight AIDS Monaco Summer Gala

Yesterday the organization Fight AIDS Monaco of which HSH Princess Stephanie is founder, celebrated its annual summer gala. Princess Stephanie was, of course, on hand as was HSH Prince Albert II and girlfriend Charlene Wittstock.

MM Video: Rainier III

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

H.S.H. Prince Honore V

Prince Honore-Gabriel was born in Paris on May 14, 1778, the eldest son of Prince Honore IV of Monaco and Princess Louise Felicite Victoire d'Aumont, Duchesse de Mazarin et de La Meilleraye. He enlisted in a French cavalry regiment when he was 20 years old and worked his way up through the ranks by his own merits until he became an officer on the staff of Marshal Grouchy. He was an exemplary soldier and was cited for his bravery many times. He was wounded in the arm at the great Napoleonic victory in the battle of Hohenlinden which prevented him from seeing action at Austerlitz. He did, however, serve with great distinction at the battles of Jena with Marshal Murat's cavalry corps. Marshal Grouchy related that the Prince had taken a handfull of cavalry and forced the surrender of an entire enemy battalion, recommending him for the star of the Legion of Honor.

When Napoleon was sent into exile the restored King Louis XVIII of France restored the Grimaldis to their places in the French nobility, however, many were afraid that Monagasque independence would not be or that they would be annexed by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. Thanks to the clever Prince Talleyrand, however, a clause was inserted into the Treaty of Paris to put Monaco back in order. When Napoleon attempted to restore his empire during the 100 days Monaco was occupied by British troops and so the Grimaldis played no part in the affair.

The ailing Honore IV was unable to return to Monaco and so appointed his brother Joseph to rule on his behalf but Honore-Gabriel protested this and after some struggle he was himself appointed to govern Monaco. On his way to Monaco he actually met with his old commander Napoleon as he was on his way to Paris to seize power at the start of the 100 days. Napoleon asked where he was going and Honore-Gabriel said he was going home to Monaco. Napoleon said he was going home to the Tuileries, but as things unfolded he was not to remain there long.

In 1819, with the passing of his father, Honore-Gabriel became the Sovereign Prince of Monaco as Honore V and inherited a principality beset with problems. The Great Powers of Europe had taken Monaco out of the French sphere of influence and made the principality a protectorate of Piedmont-Sardinia. The government in Turin closed the tobacco plant that Honore III had established and enforced a number of other changes that left Monaco impoverished. Honore V went to Turin to try to reason with the King but, although he was treated with great honor and respect, none of his grievances were addressed. Honore V also had to raise taxes considerably which made him increasingly unpopular. His granting of a monopoly on flour caused a bread shortage but no one had the nerve to voice opposition to him. When liberal movements began to oppose the counterrevolutionary tide of post-Napoleonic Europe some in Monaco thought of joining in but Sardinian troops arrived to crush the potential rebellion in its infancy.

History has tended to record Prince Honore V as a very unpopular and autocratic monarch, however, in reality this is quite unfair and in some ways he was quite progressive. He wished to help his people sincerely and had great sympathy for the poor. His reaction to seeing beggars on the streets was to form state-owned industries and put them to work. Some of the industries he set up included a lace factory and a hat factory. He also had them put to work on farm cooperatives as citrus orchirds had long been a large part of the Monegasque economy. All of this has led some people to regard Prince Honore V as a sort of proto-socialist, though he probably would not have seen it that way.

Prince Honore V died, unpopular and unappreciated (quite unjustly) on October 2, 1841 in Paris. As he was not married and had no children the Monegasque throne passed to his poet-actor brother who became Prince Florestan I of Monaco.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ancestry, From Adam to Albert II

1. Adam (B. C. 4000-3070), Eve.
2. Seth (B. C. 3869-2957).
3. Enos (B. C. 3764-2859).
4. Canaan (B. C. 3674-2895).
5. Mahalaleel (B. C. 3604-2709).
6. Jared (B. C. 3539-2577).
7. Enoch (B. C. 3377-3012).
8. Methusaleh (B. C. 3312-2344).
9. Lamech (B. C. 3125-2349).
10. Noah (B. C. 2943-2007), Naamah.
11. Shem (B. C. 2441-1841).
12. Arphaxad (B. C. 2341-1903).
13. Salah (B. C. 2306-1873).
14. Heber (B. C. 2276-1812).
15. Peleg (B. C. 2241-2003).
16. Reu (B. C. 2212-1973).
17. Serug (B. C. 2180-2049).
18. Nahor (B. C. 2050-2002).
19. Terah (B. C. 2221-1992), Amtheta.
20. Abraham (B. C. 1992-1817), Sarah.
21. Isaac (B. C. 1896-1716), Rebekah.
22. Jacob (B. C. 1837-1690), Leah.
23. Judah (b. B. C. 1752), Tamar.
24. Pharez.
25. Hezron.
26. Aram.
27. Aminadab.
28. Naasson.
29. Salmon.
30. Boaz (B. C. 1312), Ruth.
31. Obed.
32. Jesse.

Kings of Israel/Judah
33. King David (B. C. 1085-1015), Bathsheba.
34. K. Solomon (B. C. 1033-975), Naamah.
35. K. Rehoboam (b. B. C. 1016, d. 958), Maacah.
36. K. Abijah (B. C. 958-955).
37. K. Asa (B. C. 955-914), Azubah.
38. K. Jehoshaphat (B. C. 914-889).
39. K. Jehoram (B. C. 889-885), Athaliah.
40. K. Ahaziah (B. C. 906-884), Zibiah.
41. K. Joash (B. C. 885-839), Jehoaddan.
42. K. Amaziah (b. B. C. 864, d. 810), Jecholiah.
43. K. Uzziah (b. B. C. 826, d. 758), Jerusha.
44. K. Jotham (b. B. C. 783, d. 742).
45. K. Ahaz (b. B. C. 787, d. 726), Abi.
46. K. Hezekiah (b. B. C. 751, d. 698), Hephzibah.
47. K. Manasseh (b. B. C. 710, d. 643), Meshullemeth.
48. K. Amon (b. B. C. 621, d. 641), Jedidiah.
49. K. Josiah (b. B. C. 649, d. 610), Mamutah.
50. K. Zedekiah (B. C. 599-578).

Kings of Ireland
51. Q. Tea Tephi (b. B. C. 565), marries Eochaidh, a Prince of the scarlet thread, later King Heremon, descended from Zerah.
52. K. Irial Faidh (reigned 10 years).
53. K. Eithriall (reigned 20 years).
54. Follain.
55. K. Tighernmas (reigned 50 years).
56. Eanbotha.
57. Smiorguil.
58. K. Fiachadh Labhriane (reigned 24 years).
59. K. Aongus Ollmuchaidh (reigned 21 years).
60. Maoin.
61. K. Rotheachta (reigned 25 years).
62. Dein.
63. K. Siorna Saoghalach (reigned 21 years).
64. Oholla Olchaoin.
65. K. Giallchadh (reigned 9 years).
66. K. Aodhain Glas (reigned 20 years).
67. K. Simeon Breac (reigned 7 years).
68. K. Muirteadach Bolgrach (reigned 4 years).
69. K. Fiachadh Toigrach (reigned 7 years).
70. K. Duach Laidhrach (reigned 10 years).
71. Eochaidh Buailgllerg.
72. K. Ugaine More the Great (reigned 30 years).
73. K. Cobhthach Coalbreag (reigned 30 years).
74. Meilage.
75. K. Jaran Gleofathach (reigned 7 years).
76. K. Coula Cruaidh Cealgach (reigned 25 years).
77. K. Oiliolla Caisfhiachach (reigned 28 years).
78. K. Eochaidh Foltleathan (reigned 11 years).
79. K. Aongns Tuirmheach Teamharch (reigned 30 years).
80. K. Eana Aighneach (reigned 28 years).
81. Labhra Suire.
82. Blathucha.
83. Easamhuin Famhua.
84. Roighnein Ruadh.
85. Finlogha.
86. Fian.
87. K. Eodchaidh Feidhlioch (reigned 12 years).
88. Fineamhuas.
89. K. Lughaidh Raidhdearg.
90. K. Criomhthan Niadhnar (reigned 16 years).
91. Fearaidhach Fion Feachtnuigh.
92. K. Fiachadh Fionoluidh (reigned 20 years).
93. K. Tuathal Teachtmar (reigned 40 years).
94. K. Coun Ceadchathach (reigned 20 years).
95. K. Arb Aonflier (reigned 30 years).
96. K. Cormae Usada (reigned 40 years).
97. K. Caibre Liffeachair (reigned 27 years).
98. K. Fiachadh Sreabthuine (reigned 30 years.)
99. K. Muireadhach Tireach (reigned 30 years).
100. K. Eochaidh Moigmeodhin (reigned 7 years.)
101. K. Nail of the Nine Hostages.
102. Eogan.
103. K. Murireadhach.
104. Earca.

Kings of Argyleshire
105. King Fergus More
106. K. Dongard
107. K. Conran
108. K. Aidan (d. 604).
109. K. Eugene IV. (d. 622).
110. K. Donald IV. (d. 650).
111. Dongard.
112. K. Eugene. V. (d. 692).
113. Findan.
114. K. Eugene VII. (d. A. D. 721), Spondan.
115. K. Etfinus (d. A. D. 761), Fergina.
116. K. Achaius (d. A. D. 819), Fergusia.
117. K. Alpin (d. A. D. 834).

Kings of Scotland
118. King Kenneth I. (842-858).
119. K. Constantin I. (862-876).
120. K. Donald II. (889-900).
121. K. Malcolm I. (943-954).
122. K. Kenneth II. (971-995, d. A. D. 995).
123. K. Malcolm II. (1005-1034, d. A. D. 1034).
124. Bethoc, married to Crinan, Mormaer of Atholl and lay abott of Dunkeld.
125. King Duncan I. (1034-1040, d. A. D. 1040), Sybil.
126. King Malcolm III. Canmore (A. D. 1058-1093), Margaret of England.
127. King David I. (1124-1153, d. A. D. 1153), Matilda of Huntingdon.
128. Prince Henry (d. A. D. 1152), Ada of Surrey.
129. Earl David of Huntingdon (d. A. D. 1219), Matilda of Chester.
130. Isobel m. Robert Bruce III.
131. Robert Bruce IV. m. Isobel of Gloucester.
132. Robert Bruce V. m. Martha of Carrick.
133. King Robert I. (The Bruce) (A. D. 1306-1329), Isobel, daughter of Earl of Mar.
134. Marjorie Bruce m. Walter Stewart III.
135. K. Robert II. (b. 1317, 1371-1390, d. A. D. 1390), Euphemia of Ross (d. A. D. 1376).
136. K. Robert III. (b. 1337, 1390-1406, d. A. D. 1406), Arabella Drummond (d. A. D. 1401).
137. King James I of Scotland (A. D. 1406-1437), (16g grandson of King Alfred The Great) m. Joan Beaufort
138. King James II of Scotland m. Mary of Gueldres
139. Mary Stewart, Princess of Scotland married James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran, 1475-1529
140. James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, 1515-1574/75
141. John Hamilton, 1st Marquess of Hamilton 1535-1604
142. Sir James Hamilton, 2nd Marquess of Hamilton 1589-1624/25
143. Anne Hamilton, 3rd Duchess of Hamilton 1631/32-1716 married Sir William Douglas-Hamilton, 1st Earl of Selkirk
144. Lt.-Gen. Sir James Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton
145. Sir James Hamilton, 5th Duke of Hamilton, b. 5 January 1702/03, d. 2 March 1742/43
146. Archibald Hamilton, 9th Duke of Hamilton, b. 15 July 1780, d. 16 February 1819
147. Sir Alexander Hamilton, 10th Duke of Hamilton, b. 3 October 1767, d. 18 August 1852
148. William Alexander Anthony Archibald Hamilton, 11th Duke of Hamilton, b. 19 February 1811, d. 15 July 1863
149. Lady Mary Victoria Douglas-Hamilton b. 11 December 1850, d. 14 May 1922
150. Louis II b. 12 July 1879, d. 9 May 1949
151. Charlotte b. 30 September 1898, d. 15 November 1977
152. Rainier II b. 31 May 1923, d. 6 April 2005
153. Albert II b. 14 March 1958

Sunday, July 12, 2009

H.S.H. Prince Louis II

The predecessor of Prince Rainier III, his grandfather Louis II, occupied the Monegasque throne during one of the most crucial periods in her history. He is generally remembered for the poor state of the principality which he left to his grandson, however, Louis II was a very complex man who faced a number of hardships and had many excellent qualities. He was born Louis Honore Charles Antoine Grimaldi in Baden-Baden, Germany on July 12, 1870 to Prince Albert I of Monaco and Lady Mary Victoria Hamilton. His family life was not to be a very stable one though. His mother was the daughter of the Duke of Hamilton and a Princess of Baden and she met Prince Albert I at a ball hosted by the Emperor and Empress of France and not long after a marriage was arranged with Napoleon III suggesting Mary as a good candidate.

Unfortunately, it was not a good match. The new Princess of Monaco was only 19-years-old but very petulant and condescending. Nothing was ever good enough for her, she hated Monaco, was not impressed with her husband and finally abandoned her adopted homeland. By 1880 the marriage was annulled though an arrangement was made with the Vatican to maintain the legitimacy of young Louis in the eyes of the Church at least. However, Louis had been taken away by his mother and so spent his formative years in Germany with his mother and stepfather. He was eleven years old before he ever saw Prince Albert again when his presence was required in Monaco to begin learning the princely trade. Life in the Princely Palace was not exactly ideal for Prince Louis though.

Prince Albert I had made Monaco something of a European hot-spot and was well known in elite circles for his cultural patronage and interest in such subjects as oceanography, paleontology and archaeology. At home, however, he was rather aloof and distant; not much comfort or companion to his young son and a bit of an autocrat. Louis was restless with this state of affairs and as soon as he came of age he left Monaco and enrolled in the Saint Cyr French military academy. He graduated in four years and, showing considerable courage, volunteered to serve with the Foreign Legion in North Africa. This was to have a profound impact on his life, both in terms of his career (he seemed a natural soldier) and his private life.

While on duty in Algeria Prince Louis met and became enamored with a cabaret singer named Marie Juliette Louvet, a mother of two who had formerly been married to the risqué French photographer Achille Delmaet. In no time at all Louis was head over heels in love and wanted to marry the girl but a previously married, single mother who sang in a cabaret was considered far below the station of the Hereditary Prince of Monaco and Prince Albert I absolutely forbid it. This is where the story becomes a bit murky. Louis later claimed that he disregarded the wishes of his father and married Juliette anyway in 1897 but there is no documentation to back that claim up. When a daughter, Charlotte Louise Juliette, was born a year later in Algeria she was considered illegitimate by French and Monegasque law.

However, if his private life was somewhat scandalous his military service was nothing short of exemplary. Prince Louis served with distinction in the French army for 10 years and earned the Legion of Honor before returning home in 1908, interestingly enough, without his wife and daughter. However, when calamity hit Europe with the outbreak of World War I in August of 1914 Prince Louis rushed to the colors and reenlisted. In that time of crisis he again proved his worth as a skillful and courageous fighting man. He was upgraded to a Grand Officer in the Legion of Honor and was promoted to brigadier general during the conflict winning a great deal of recognition for his leadership and personal bravery. Many other members of his family had seen military service over the centuries but it was widely accepted that none ever proved so great a military figure as Prince Louis. In terms of his chosen profession none could fault him but his personal life was about to come back to haunt him.

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War there was already a great deal of worry over the Monegasque succession to the lack of legitimate issue on the part of Hereditary Prince Louis. As things stood, should anything happen to Louis; which was quite possible given his military service, the throne would pass to his first cousin Duke Wilhelm von Urach, the son of his aunt Princess Florestine of Monaco. Obviously, especially at that crucial time, having a German on the throne of Monaco was the last thing France wanted nor were they willing to tolerate such an eventuality. Therefore, in 1911 a law was passed to recognize the legitimacy of Princess Charlotte, officially making her a recognized member of the Grimaldi family and heir to her father. It was thought this would solve the problem and end the controversy but it was not to be as the law was declared invalid by the 1882 statutes. To get around this another law had to be passed, in 1918, which would allow a Prince of Monaco to adopt an heir to inherit the succession rights. In 1919 Louis adopted his daughter and she officially became Princess Charlotte Louise Juliette Grimaldi of Monaco, Duchess of Valentinois.

Oddly enough, in that last year of World War I the Duke of Urach was chosen to be King of Lithuania which the Germans had liberated from Russian rule and for a short time he was nominally King Mindaugas II of Lithuania. That potential throne did not survive the Allied victory and in 1924 Wilhelm formally renounced his rights to the Monegasque throne and passed them to his French cousins, also of the Grimaldi clan, the counts of Chabrillan. Nor was Monaco all alone in this predicament as the French also forced the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg to abdicate for the high crime of being too close to Germany. France also insisted on a treaty with Monaco in 1918 which required the French government to approve of all potential princes of Monaco. It was well that all this was settled as Louis did not have much time to enjoy the peace. On June 27, 1922 Prince Albert I died and his son, the French general, became Reigning Prince Louis II of Monaco.

Although Louis II is often accused of neglecting his principality this is, on the whole, quite unfair. He formed the first Monaco Football Club in 1924 and five years later held the first of the now famous Grand Prix of Monaco. His personality also showed itself in the establishment of the Napoleon Museum attached to the Princely Palace in Monte Carlo where he displayed his impressive collection of artifacts from the French Emperor Napoleon I. He also did his best to see to it that business in Monaco operated smoothly and got rid of Camille Blanc who had long administered the Monte Carlo Casino but who had acquired a very questionable reputation. Prince Louis II also fostered the performing arts, ballet and opera and in 1939 built the Prince Louis II Stadium to hold the World University Games. Things might have gone quite differently for Monaco were it not for the disastrous outbreak of World War II soon after.

This conflict put Louis II in a difficult position. His grandson Rainier (son of his daughter Charlotte and her Franco-Mexican husband Pierre de Polignac) favored the Allies and was quick to join the French army and distinguish himself at the front. However, once France was defeated, Louis II was inclined to support the existing government in Vichy led by his old World War I comrade Marshal Philippe Petain. However, to add another degree of difficulty to things, at this time most of the Monegasque people still considered themselves more Italian than French and many sympathized with Italy and the dynamic leader of that country Benito Mussolini who of course had declared war on France. With France defeated there was little tiny Monaco could do but wait and see, however the divisions of opinion were deep and heartfelt.

In 1943 the Royal Italian Army marched in and occupied Monaco with many of the locals welcoming them. A new government was formed by the Italians along the fascist model but it did not last long as soon Mussolini was dismissed and as the Italian troops pulled out German troops came in to take their place. This really brought the war home to Monaco as never before. The Germans quickly began enforcing their anti-Semitic laws and deported Jews to the concentration camps including the famous Rene Blum who Louis II had previously charged with setting up the Monaco opera. Sadly, he was among the millions of Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust. But, Prince Louis II was not the sort of man to take this cruelty and meddling laying down. At great risk to himself and his family, whenever he could obtain the necessary information he would secretly dispatch the Monegasque police to warn those about to be arrested by the Gestapo. Nonetheless, Prince Rainier was disgusted with not being able to do more to support the Allies or the Free French forces.

When Monaco was liberated in 1944 she was briefly under Allied administration which included communist representatives who would have liked nothing better than to see the near absolute monarchy of Monaco abolished. However, the old soldier in Louis II rose up and he made it clear that any effort in that direction would be met with all the fight he could muster and all such talk was dropped. At 75 he was still a force to be reckoned with. However, Louis II did seem to lose something with the Second World War and all of the problems that came with it. After 1946 he spent ever more time in Paris and it was on July 24, 1946 in Monaco that Louis II married the former film star Ghislaine Dommanget. They spent their remaining years together mostly at the family estate of Le Marchais near Paris. On May 9, 1949 Sovereign Prince Louis II died in the Princely Palace at Monaco and was buried in the family vault at St Nicholas Cathedral in Monte Carlo. He was succeeded by his grandson Prince Rainier III and his wife became H.S.H. Ghislaine, Dowager Princess of Monaco until her own death on April 30, 1991 in Paris.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

H.S.H. Prince Albert I

Today HSH Prince Albert I is often hailed for his adventurous expeditions to the polar regions, scientific and environmental interests, but he is, in fact, simply following the example of one of his predecessors on the Monegasque throne; HSH Prince Albert I. He brought attention to many of the same issues that Prince Albert II is addressing today. He was born Albert Honore Charles Grimaldi on November 13, 1848 in Paris, France to HSH Prince Charles III of Monaco and the Belgian Countess Antoinette de Merode-Westerloo. Throughout his life Albert was to display a fascination with the sea in both military and civilian life as well as an admirable intellectual curiosity. His first experience as a professional sailor was with the Royal Spanish Navy. As with the heir to any monarchy it was never too soon to think about marriage and family and Prince Albert had some powerful figures backing him up in that endeavor.

The main force plotting for a good match for Albert was his grandmother, Princess Maria Caroline Gilbert de Lemetz; wife of the late Prince Florestan I of Monaco. She set her sights fairly high and first hoped for a marriage between her grandson and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, a cousin of HM Queen Victoria of Great Britain. When she met with no success on her own she enlisted the aid of Emperor Louis Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie of France. Perhaps being a bit more realistic the French Emperor assured Princess Caroline that Queen Victoria would never allow one of her cousins to marry a Grimaldi who would not have been considered of sufficiently high status for the British. The Grimaldis being Catholic did not help them in the eyes of Protestant Britain either. Instead, Napoleon pointed the Princess toward the sister of his friend the Duke of Hamilton; Lady Mary Victoria Douglas-Hamilton. While not royalty she was well off, well connected, the daughter of a duke and third cousin to the French emperor. With little regard for the feelings of those involved Princess Caroline forged ahead in arranging the match; already hearing wedding bells for her grandson in her head.

Hereditary Prince Albert met his bride-to-be in August of 1869 at a ball hosted by the French Imperial Couple and by September 21 the two were married and by the next year the Princess had given birth to a son and heir; Louis Honore Charles Antoine Grimaldi. It was to be a pivotal year for Prince Albert as it was little more than a week after the birth of Louis that the Franco-Prussian War broke out and Prince Albert was quick to enlist in the French Imperial Navy where he served with distinction and was awarded the Legion of Honor. Of course, the years of 1870-1871 were disastrous for the French, witnessing their humiliating defeat, the fall of the Second Empire, revolution and the siege of Paris. Prince Albert I left with a lasting horror of war and found little comfort waiting for him at home. His teenage bride was dissatisfied with virtually everything around her. She detested Monaco and felt no great love for her husband either. Not long after Louis was born Princess Mary took her son and abandoned Monaco. A divorce quickly followed and on July 28, 1880 Reigning Prince Charles III ordered the marriage dissolved and an annulment was obtained from the Vatican with the special allowance that the legitimacy of Prince Louis would not be effected so that the succession would not be endangered and he could inherit the throne of Monaco in his turn.

Putting his military career behind him, Albert devoted more time to his longtime fascination with oceanography. This was the area in which he was to have the greatest influence on history as he was extremely gifted in the new field of study and personally developed several new techniques and instruments for measurement and exploration at sea. He studied hard and over time would make Monaco an international center for oceanography. He worked alongside numerous scholars, scientists and assorted leaders in the field and eventually founded the now famous Oceanographic Institute of Monaco with an aquarium, museum, library and research facilities in Paris. Prince Albert went on a number of exploration and study voyages and is credited with discovering the Princess Alice Bank at the Azores in 1896 (Princess Alice was the name of his ship on the voyage). Nor did he devote all of his intellectual curiosity to marine matters. While on land he spent a great deal of time studing the origins of humanity and he founded the "Institute for Human Paleontology" that sponsored a number of archeological expeditions. In 1909 all of his scholarly efforts were recognized by the international community when he was made a member of the prestigious British Academy of Science. By that time, Albert already had an additional new job.

Following the death of his father Charles III in Paris, Albert succeeded to the Monegasque throne on September 10, 1889. Later that year the new reigning Prince Albert foreshadowed the actions of a future Prince of Monaco when he married the American Marie Alice Heine, Dowager Duchess of Richelieu. A German-Jew from New Orleans, the daughter of a building contractor, Marie Heine had married the French Duc d'Richelieu but was widowed by the age of 21 with a young son Armand. The union was as much a success as the Prince's first marriage had been a failure. Princess Alice proved to be good for Albert and good for Monaco as well. With her background she was able to bring a new level of good business sense to the principality that her more scholarly husband found to be of great value. She went to work on the books and greatly strengthened the Monegasque economy which was much more volatile then than it is now. However, she was not entirely concerned with economics and after getting things sorted out on the business front was able to focus more on the traditional role of Monegasque consorts which was the cultural front and adding more style and sophistication to the tiny country. She was a patron of the opera, theater and the ballet which became quite famous under the direction of the Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev. This does not mean that Prince Albert I was a "hands-off" ruler by any means, but his wife was a strong right-arm in his duties.

This made it all the more surprising when this latest marriage did not work out either. People were shocked considering how good for the principality the match had been, however, as the public and royals alike are constantly reminded, marriages are about more than just practicality. In 1902 the princely couple separated but did not divorce and the two never had any children so there was, at least, no complications there. So what was the cause of the separation? As usual we have only gossip to rely on. It was rumored that Princess Alice had been having an affair with the composer Isidore de Lara. Supposedly this led Prince Albert to become so enraged that he slapped his wife in public at the opera one evening. Princess Alice was also rumored to be an exceptionally jealous woman after she banned the courtesan Caroline Otero, better known as "La Belle Otero" from Monaco in 1897 after being seen with her husband with whom she was rumored to be having an on-again-off-again affair with since 1893. If all the rumors can be believed it would seem that neither party was completely blameless in the failure of their marriage. Princess Alice's father tried to get a portion of her large dowry back but to no avail and after the breakup Alice moved to London where she led an active social life, supported many cultural, artistic and humanitarian causes and was famous for her stylish entertaining of numerous famous individuals from writers and painters to future Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Back in Monaco Prince Albert had many pressing concerns to occupy his time.

With political tensions growing in Europe between the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance Monaco faced an uncertain economic future. Prince Albert worked to counter this by encouraging more tourism and trying to improve the public face of his country. In 1911 he founded the Monte Carlo Rally to draw racing fans to Monaco who would, hopefully, spend some time and money in the casino while they were there. He also granted Monaco a constitution that same year but was careful to make sure it did not limit his monarchial authority and in any event it did not last long and was suspended with the outbreak of World War I. That disastrous event was a particularly painful turn of events for Prince Albert. He was a veteran of the French military but also had among his many foreign decorations the Order of the Black Eagle of Prussia (the dominant state in the German Empire). However, his own taste of war and his life experiences had, by 1914, turned Prince Albert into an avowed pacifist. To his credit, unlike other pacifists, Albert did not stop at words and took action to do what he could to try to avert war. He set up the International Institute of Peace in Monaco in the hope that countries would talk through their problems there rather than resorting to military force. He also spoke directly with German Kaiser Wilhelm II to try to dissuade him from taking military action against France but it was, obviously, to no avail.

After the outbreak of World War I Prince Albert was neutral but not totally uninvolved and felt a great deal of sympathy for the people of Belgium and northern France who were suffering under German occupation. Again, he contacted Kaiser Wilhelm II directly to urge him to restrain his forces, particularly General Karl von Bulow, in their treatment of the conquered populace. As a result of his strong actions he was able to save two villages in Alsace from probable annihilation by the German forces. Prince Albert also provided humanitarian relief to the Allied soldiers in the form of hospitals and convalescent centers and his own son, Prince Louis, served in the French army during the war with great courage and heroism, eventually becoming a general. After the war the tourist-based economy of Monaco was in bad shape with little anyone could see to be done to help. With the world calming down the Reigning Prince was again recognized by the international community for his many contributions to the scientific and marine exploration fields. The American Academy of Science have him a medal for his life's work in 1920 and the following year the Explorer's Club made him an Honorary Member; their highest level of membership. Only one year after that, on June 26, 1922, Prince Albert I of Monaco passed away in Paris at which time he was succeeded by his son Prince Louis II. Despite the problems in his private life Prince Albert had been a very able monarch for Monaco. Thanks to him the country enjoyed a better reputation as a center for intellectual study and peaceful diplomacy as well as arts and culture rather than simply being known only as a gambling escape for the wealthy of Europe.

Friday, July 10, 2009

H.S.H. Prince Charles III

H.S.H. Prince Charles III of Monaco was born on december 8, 1818 in Paris, France as Charles Honore Grimaldi, the only son to Prince Florestan I of Monaco and Princess Maria Caroline Gilbert de Lametz. He was married to Antoinette de Merode-Westerloo in Brussels, Belgium on September 28, 1846 and succeeded his father as Sovereign Prince of Monaco ten years later on June 20, 1856. Prince Florestan had been an actor and not really prepared for his job as monarch and handed power over to his son after several proposals for a constitution were rejected, mostly because of the objections of the town of Menton. Revolutionary uprisings and money troubles caused Florestan to be eager to part with his throne and pass the buck to his son Charles. He inherited a larger principality than we know today but one extremely strapped for cash and the first order of business for Charles III was to find some way to bring income to Monaco. The idea finally came to him to open a casino in Monaco as there was, at that time, no other centers of gambling in southern Europe and there were plenty of high-rollers who would go seemingly anywhere to play the odds and take their chances. He converted a villa and agreed to let the new establishment be named after him and so the famous Monte Carlo casino was born.

At the start the casino bore few similarities to the glamorous affair we know today. It was described as rather drab and did not, at the outset, bring in a great deal of money for the principality. Nonetheless, the ground-work has been laid for what would prove to be the mainstay of the Monegasque economy for many years to come. However, the establishment of the casino was met with some staunch opposition by the Catholic Church in Monaco, especially the Jesuits. The Society of Jesus had established a monastery and a private school for the offspring of the elites of Monaco society and they had been forced to relocate while their original property was being refurbished. However, they were greatly disturbed by the opening of the Monte Carlo casino and demanded that they be refunded the money put into their property near the new casino.

Prince Charles III, having to deal with his own financial problems and a large part of his country on the edge of rebellion, had little patience for the Jesuits and their moral concerns about the new casino. When the Society of Jesus tried to take Charles III to court he had the order expelled from his principality; another example of the age-old fact that it never pays to challenge the boss. However, probably the biggest concern Charles had was the political situation he faced with France. The towns of Menton and Roquebrune had been taken by the French during the revolution but later restored to Monaco which was then under the protection of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia. However, during the Revolutions of 1848 Menton and Roquebrune had risen up and declared themselves free cities though still under Sardinia. The Savoys were also at the time making territorial concessions to the French Emperor Napoleon III in return for his support against the Austrians. The two nominally Monegasque towns were in a political no-man's-land because of all this confusion but the matter was finally resolved when the Menton and Roquebrune areas voted by a large margin for annexation to France in 1860. Prince Charles III could do little to stop the development and France did agree to pay him compensation for the loss of these territories which constituted some 80% of the total area of the Principality of Monaco.

In spite of this tremendous loss, which was probably inevitable, the road was open for the French to recognize the independence of Monaco, which eventually led to the current French protectorate. Prince Charles III also made a considerable contribution to making Monaco more open with the outside world. In 1864 Charles III signed a Treaty of Friendship with Muhammad III as-Sadiq, the Bey of Tunis, which regulated trade and maritime relations between the two countries. He also established diplomatic relations with many other governments around the world for the first time. On the whole, the reign of Prince Charles was a beneficial one for Monaco. He inherited immense problems and was able to handle them, he also took steps to strengthen the principality in the long-term. He died at Chateau de Marchais on September 10, 1889 and was succeeded by Albert I.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lucien Grimaldi, Lord of Monaco

Lucien Grimaldi comes from the more factually murky period of the Lords of Monaco and his reign starts out with rumors and accusations rather than hard facts. The rumor is that he obtained the lordship of Monaco by stabbing his older brother, Lord Jean II, to death after a quarrel over the suggestion of selling Monaco to the Venetians. It was October 11, 1505 at the Grimaldi castle in Mentone where Lucien, Lord Jean II of Monaco and their mother were having dinner at which time the alleged confrontation is to have taken place. However, there is plenty of evidence that this did not happen including the fact that the boys mother, Claudine, who was very attached to Jean II never seemed to bear any grudge against Lucien which certainly would have been the case had he been guilty of the crime of which he is accused.

In any case, however Lucien came to be the Lord of Monaco, no one can doubt his courage and commitment to his country as it was only the following year that the Republic of Genoa launched a major effort to retake Monaco and laid siege to the country for 102 days with a force of 14,000 men. What is ironic about this attack is that Genoa itself had only recently been freed itself from French rule and many Genoese had fled to the protection of Monaco. During this time Lucien was ever present in defending his country alongside his brother Charles Grimaldi and Bartholomew Doria. For the first time in Monegasque history canon fire blasted the castle walls. A last attack was made on March 19, 1507 at Serravalle where the old tower stands guard today behind the palace overlooking the Nice road. A breach had been opened in the wall there but the Monegasque worked feverishly to construct new barricades and when the Genoese attacked they fought heroically to throw back the invaders with Lord Lucien leading them. The Genoese were so distraught by their failure and the seemingly unshakable tenacity of the Monegasque that they thereafter called off their siege and sailed back to Genoa.

Lord Lucien was the man of the hour and the world of the Mediterranean was greatly impressed by his heroic leadership in the defense of Monaco. It had been a desperate fight though and King Louis XII of France suddenly worried that if a future attack ended differently it could be a threat to French security. As a result the King of France made it his mission to ensure that Monaco would be a French ally no matter what he had to do in order to get Monaco on side and keep them there. The famous (or infamous) Italian writer Machiavelli was forced to pay attention to these events and in 1511 he visited Monaco as a representative of Florence and their maritime interests. In Spain, King Ferdinand the Catholic heaped praise on Lord Lucien for his defense of Monaco and in 1512 a new assertion of Monegasque independence was made and Lord Lucien began to mint his own currency, featuring his own profile. Nonetheless, it was clear that Spain and France were developing a rivalry over who would be the guardian big brother to little Monaco.

Lord Lucien enlarged the territory of Monaco in 1515 when he bought the feudal rights to Menton from the Countess of Villars. The city would remain under Grimaldi rule until the reign of HSH Prince Charles III when Menton and neighboring Roquebrune seceded from Monaco in 1848. Despite the diplomatic tightrope that Lord Lucien had to walk it would have seemed from the outside that Monaco and the Grimaldi family were at the top of their game as 1520 passed. They had impressed everyone with their victory over Genoa, maintained their independence and were being courted by the powerful kings of France and Spain as well as business interests from Florence and other Italian city-states. In 1522 Monaco was even honored with a visit from Pope Hadrian VI. However, as is often the case, the success of the reign of Lord Lucien won him as many enemies as admirers and the most jealous of all was the powerful Doria family of the Republic of Genoa.

The Dorias were actually relatives of the Grimaldis and Bartholomew Doria had helped Lord Lucien defend Monaco during the Genoese attack. Bartholomew was a nephew of Lucien as his mother, Francoise Doria, was the sister of the Lord of Monaco. However, he later began to conspire to overthrow Lucien, allegedly with the knowledge and support of the famous Admiral and restorer of the Genoese republic Andrea Doria. As usual, Monaco was the sight of a real-life drama that could put the most gifted novelist or soap opera writer to shame. Bartholomew came to visit Lucien on August 22, 1528 though, suspiciously, he became nervous and agitated when Lucien invited Bartholomew to accompany him to mass. His nephew, perhaps not wishing to confront the Almighty at such a time, refused to go along. Later that evening, after having dinner together, Bartholomew lured Lucien to an empty part of the palace where his conspirators were waiting.

When Bartholomew and Lucien appeared these men sprang from the shadows and assassinated the Lord of Monaco before quickly moving to secure the lower levels of the palace. Their plan was seize the palace and then signal a naval force waiting in the Port of Hercules under Andrea Doria which had been sent to help conquer Monaco. However, things quickly went wrong for the conspirators. The palace personnel upstairs fought back and prevented them from obtaining access to the higher levels and when Bartholomew and his men dragged the body of Lord Lucien outside, down the palace steps to prove his death to the public the populace was enraged rather than cowed. The Monegasque were then rallied by Augustin Grimaldi, Bishop of Grasse (brother of Lucien) who had just arrived from Cannes and the people began to fight back.

Desperate, the conspirators then took Lucien’s wife, Jeanne de Pontevis, and their children hostage at knife-point and threatened to kill them all if they were not allowed to safely escape. With no other choice the Monegasque allowed the murders to get away and the family was not harmed. Lucien was immediately succeeded as Lord of Monaco by his baby son Honore I who was acted for by his uncle Bishop Augustin Grimaldi. He would pursue the killers of his brother by breaking from France and joining Monaco in an alliance with Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. So it was that the Lord of Monaco who had been accused of attaining that position through the assassination of his brother ended his reign by himself being assassinated by his own nephew.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

H.S.H. Prince Louis I

Louis I may not have been one of the most "hands-on" sovereigns of Monaco but he was certainly one of the most interesting, accomplished and stylish. Louis was born in Monaco on July 25, 1642 to Prince Hercules and Princess Aurelia Spinola of Monaco but the greatest influence on his life was his grandfather and predecessor the Sovereign Prince Honore II. Since 1524 Monaco had been a protectorate of the Kingdom of Spain but that had begun to change during the reign of Prince Honore II who was a zealous Francophile. After building up the principality Honore II drove out the Spanish and made Monaco a protectorate of France in return for which he was awarded titles in the French nobility. As part of his campaign of goodwill toward France Honore II sent his grandson Louis to represent him at the lavish court of the French king where he proved to be quite popular. In 1660 Prince Louis married Catherine-Charlotte de Gramont, daughter of Antoine III de Gramont, who was a Marshal of France.

Prince Louis was an accomplished soldier who fought for King Louis XIV in his wars against England and Spain. Louis had the unique position at the French court of being both the representative of a foreign power, the Principality of Monaco, as well as a member of the French nobility as the second Duke of Valentinois. In 1662 Honore II died and his grandson succeeded him as Sovereign Prince Louis I but he spent most of his time in France, usually in Paris or at the court of King Louis XIV at Versailles. Another reason for his good graces with Louis XIV was probably the attractiveness of his wife Princess Catherine-Charlotte who, for a few months, joined the ranks of the many mistresses of Louis XIV before he moved on to the favors of the famous Madame de Montespan. Prince Louis I, himself not exactly a chaste man, prudently made himself scarce during these periods, going off to war for Louis XIV.

Although he may have been popular in France, Louis I of Monaco was not such a big hit in Great Britain which he visited in 1677. King Charles II was outraged by the way Louis I showered gifts on Hortense Mancini, one of the many mistresses of Charles II. He later fought against England in the War of the United Provinces and earned further favor with Louis XIV for his bold leadership on the battlefields of Flanders and Franche-Comte at the head of his regiment the Monaco Cavalry. Personal tragedy struck in 1678 when Princess Catherine-Charlotte died at the age of 39. She had, however, given Louis I six children; two sons and four daughters so the Monegasque succession was quite sure for the time being. In any event, Louis XIV was so impressed by the distinguished service of Prince Louis I of Monaco that he decided to name him as his official ambassador to the Holy See. It was a very reasonable move since Louis I's Grimaldi family ties in Genoa and across Italy would serve him well while in Rome.

It was in Rome at the papal court that Louis I could have made his greatest impact on history as he was chosen for the important assignment with the intention of representing the interests of Louis XIV in the critical issue of the Spanish succession. It was Louis I of Monaco who tried to bring about an agreement between the two bitter sides of what would prove to be a very costly war. Typically for a Monegasque prince though, when not engaged in diplomatic work, Louis I was well known for his stylish entertaining and lavish lifestyle. Unfortunately for his successors he went rather too far and was soon forced to sell off the awesome art collection of Honore II to pay his debts. He spent his family into the poor house to the point that Monaco was virtually bankrupt and, unfortunately, Louis I died before the issue of the Spanish succession could be settled on January 3, 1701. Had he succeeded in arranging an international agreement on Spain to the favor of King Louis XIV he almost certainly would have earned great rewards for himself. As it was, he left the Monegasque throne to his son Prince Antoine with nothing but empty pockets and a reputation for grand parties and military glory.

H.S.H. Princess Antoinette

The Monegasque Princely Family seems to have no shortage of colorful characters among its ranks and one that certainly stands out is Princess Antoinette, rather like the last member of the old guard of Monaco. The sister of Prince Rainier III, Antoinette has been cast as ambitious schemer, potential usurper, outcast, crazy old aunt and finally accepted member of the family in recent years. As with most of the Grimaldis there is a great deal of rumor and gossip surrounding her life but enough is known for sure to know that she has led an extremely interesting life full of intrigue and family politics. It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that Princess Antoinette could have had her life story produced as a daytime soap opera.

She was born Antoinette Louise Alberte Suzanne Grimaldi on December 28, 1920 in Paris to Prince Pierre, Duke of Valentinois and Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Valentinois. She grew up in an odd position, first with the controversy over the succession and then with her brother taking center stage as the Hereditary Prince during World War II. It was also during that period that she began a relationship with the Monegasque tennis star Alexandre-Athenase Noghes by whom she had three children; Elisabeth Anne born in 1947, Christian Louis Baron de Massy born in 1949 and Christine Alix born in 1951 and her life only became more controversial from there.

In December of 1951, after the birth of Christine, Alexandre and Princess Antoinette were married in a civil ceremony in Genoa but the marriage only lasted until 1954. Following this Princess Antoinette started to gain her unsavory reputation as an ambitious and meddling plotter. While her brother Prince Rainier was in a relationship with the French actress Gisele Pascal she spread rumors (later proven untrue) that the girl was infertile and thus an unacceptable consort for Rainier who needed an heir to keep Monaco independent of France. Because of this she was widely blamed for the breakup of the relationship. At this time Princess Antoinette was having an affair with Jean-Charles Rey and they were accused of plotting something of a palace coup in which they would depose Rainier III and Princess Antoinette would take the Monegasque throne on the grounds that she had a son and heir who could maintain the independence of the principality. Needless to say this hair-brained scheme (if genuine) was unsuccessful.

Princess Antoinette may have blamed the failure on Princess Grace who her brother married after a whirlwind courtship. Rumors spread (denied by the palace) that she had been checked out previously as to her fertility and quickly gave Monaco an heir, thus ending any realistic hopes for Princess Antoinette to achieve the throne. Considering all of this, the fact that Rainier tolerated his sister at all was an act of great restraint, however, rumors soon spread that the meddling sister was causing problems for Rainier and Grace and Princess Grace finally had her thrown out of the Princely Palace. Rainier III, because of all of her scheming, had his sister effectively banished from Monaco and the two branches of the family had little to nothing to do with each other for quite some time. Her son Christian, however, later wrote that Princess Grace was extremely kind to him and would always make time for him at the palace during the many ups and downs in his own private life.

Jean-Charles Rey and Princess Antoinette were married in 1961 but the two never had any children and divorced in 1974. Kept away from the Princely Palace in Monaco, Princess Antoinette went from having the reputation of an ambitious schemer to that of a colorful but beloved, old aunt. She lived mostly in Eze on the coast with a large collection of dogs and cats with rumors from her servants occasionally slipping out about her bizarre behavior. In 1983 she married the English ballet dancer John Gilpin but this match did not last long either as he died only six weeks later. Thankfully, over the years there seems to have been a slow reconciliation among the family and Princess Antoinette has attended family functions. She lost her succession rights upon the death of her brother and the succession of Prince Albert II. Over the years Princess Antoinette became a familiar figure at a number of Monegasque social events. She founded a women's organization for Monaco and was extremely active in the area of animal rights and the prevention of animal cruelty. She was a regular star every year at the St Francis Day blessing of pets.

Past problems or rumors of such were put aside and forgotten as the two branches of the family presented a united front, Prince Albert escorting his aunt to the annual Rose Ball and some other parties and Antoinette's grandchildren appearing on the balcony of the palace on national day. From her rebel past Princess Antoinette had grown into the position of beloved family matriarch. Eventually, time began to tell and the Princess began suffering from osteoporosis and possibly pancreatic cancer. On March 18, 2011, at the age of 90, she passed away at the Princess Grace Hospital in Monaco, beloved by her family and very well regarded. Her departure was, truly, the end of an era.
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