Sunday, August 30, 2009

HSH Prince Jacques I

One of the more controversial men to hold the title of Prince of Monaco was Jacques Francois Leonor Goyon de Matignon. It will be noticed that his name was not Grimaldi and that would be a hurtful point to many. On October 20, 1715 he married Hereditary Princess Louise-Hippolyte of Monaco, daughter and successor of Sovereign Prince Antoine I after a long and contentious search for a suitable husband. Part of the appeal of Jacques that he was not so well born as to be reluctant to change his name. Unfortunately this would also mean that he would tainted from the start with the image of a social-climber. Still, his own family was fairly prestigious as well coming from one of the oldest families of Brittany. One of his ancestors was the famous Marshal Jacques de Matignon who refused to participate in the notorious Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

Many other members of the larger Grimaldi clan were adamantly opposed to the marriage of Louise-Hippolyte and Jacques de Matignon. They argued, not unreasonably, that according to previous accords the Monegasque throne should only pass to a Grimaldi and that by the marriage Jacques would become the effective ruler of the principality and the founder of a new dynasty in all but name. They tried to pursue the matter through legal means but to no avail and thereafter many took to referring to the Monegasque Princely Family as the House of Matignon rather than Grimaldi. Nor was the Princess of Monaco herself happy with her husband whom she viewed, because of all the intrigue surrounding the marriage, with great suspicion, suspecting that he was only using her to advance his own position. Her fears were not unreasonable as Jacques was attracted to the marriage because he would be gaining a principality rather than any real devotion to the Princess and the match was pushed by King Louis XIV of France who wanted to secure French influence over Monaco and he knew that Jacques would be “his man” as it were.

In 1731, with the death of Antoine I, Prince Jacques became “Sovereign Consort” of Monaco and thought of himself as the real ruler of the place and this was another example of what Princess Louise-Hippolyte regarded as her husband assuming more power than was his right and attempting to usurp her legitimate place as Sovereign Princess of Monaco. Nonetheless, throughout their marriage the line of Prince Jacques I was secured by the birth of eight children from 1717 to 1728. When the couple came to the throne the people of Monaco welcomed their Princess but scorned their new Prince who they saw as acting arrogantly and really caring nothing for the people but only about what he could gain from the Principality. Even before assuming the throne he avoided Monaco and preferred to stay with the French court at Versailles enjoying a succession of mistresses. The marriage of Grimaldi and Matignon was not a happy one.

Prince Jacques I was the effective ruler of Monaco, especially after Princess Louise-Hippolyte died of smallpox only eleven months into her reign. With no more opposition Jacques I was able to assume total control of Monaco and was recognized as the Sovereign Prince by the King of France. However, his reign would not be a peaceful one even after the passing of his wife. Her fight was taken up by her sister Princess Margaret d’Isenghien who conspired against Jacques on the grounds that the Monegasque had always been ruled by a Grimaldi and would accept nothing else. To deal with this Prince Jacques appointed the Chevalier de Grimaldi (an illegitimate son of Antoine I) to be Governor of Monaco. Fortunately the Chevalier proved to be a wise administrator and ruled Monaco with great ability for the next 50 years. It was certainly an improvement over Prince Jacques who never showed much interest in Monegasque affairs and was generally unpopular. He preferred the high life of the French court to the business of governing his little Principality. Finally, with public opposition to his rule showing no signs of letting up he left Monaco in May of 1732 and the following year abdicated in favor of his son Prince Honore III. The new Sovereign Prince was barely 14 but with the Chevalier running things the country seemed to be in capable hands with good prospects for the future. Prince Jacques returned to his favored lifestyle in Versailles and Paris where he spent the rest of his life before his death on April 23, 1751. His former residence in Paris, named the Hotel Matignon is today the official residence of the French prime minister.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Albert II at Soccer Match in Monaco

Yesterday, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco attended the UEFA Super Cup Soccer Match at the Louis II Stadium in Monaco between Barcelona and Shakhtar Donetsk. The Sovereign Prince is seen here with UEFA president Michel Platini before the game.

Charles I, Lord of Monaco

Charles I, Lord of Monaco occupied “the Rock” on September 12, 1331. Most historians consider him the effective founder of the Principality of Monaco under the House of Grimaldi. Like his father, Rainier I, and his son Rainier II, Charles was a famous seafaring adventurer and had a place of prominence at the court of the King of France and the Count of Provence. Charles I was the son of Lord Rainier I and his first wife Salvatica del Carretto. On April 10, 1301 “the Rock” of Monaco was occupied by the forces of the Republic of Genoa which they would retain for thirty years until Charles took it back, ruling the coastal enclave for the rest of his life. In 1336 a Monegasque fleet sailed east and plundered the commercial shipping of Venice capturing vessels off the coasts of Syria and Egypt.

Pope Benedict XII intervened on behalf of Venice and called upon King Robert of Naples to keep the Monegasque under control. The King, who was also Lord of Provence, had to admit that he had no control or sovereignty over Monaco and thus history was given the first mention of Monegasque independence. By that time Genoa had tired of the continuous feud between the Guelfs and Ghibellines and an “outsider” candidate was elected Doge who stopped pressing the fight against the House of Grimaldi. The naval forces of Genoa and Monaco then allied to assist the French in the Hundred Years War against King Edward III of England. These ships, assisted by some French vessels, captured Portsmouth without firing a shot as the English fleet was engaged supporting the transport and supply of the English forces to Flanders.

Charles Grimaldi and Anthony Doria then appeared off Southampton spurred on by the promise of reward from the French admiral to whoever could penetrate the English defenses first. It was October 5, 1338 and the French, Genoese and Monegasque forces captured and pillaged Southampton and by the time English reinforcements arrived the ships of Monaco and her allies had already sailed away loaded down with loot. At sea they met up with the King of Scotland, David Bruce or David II, and escorted him to France where he sought an alliance with the French. For a time the French and her allies were masters of the Channel and there was ambitious talk of invading England but squabbling and the disapproval of the Pope meant that the grand scheme came to nothing.

In the meantime Charles of Monaco and the allied naval forces continued to raid and harass the English coast, even cutting off the ears and fingers of some victims which they displayed back in Calais. It was not behavior to be proud of and only infuriated Edward III in his own invasion of France. However, the Guelf and Ghibelline rivalry did not die easily and when some discontented Genoese tried to set up their own republic (even their own Doge) in Boulogne-sur-Mer the Monegasque fought against them in what was a transplanted feud in northern France of the Genoa-Monaco rivalry that was going on in the south. The French were occupied with other issues such as sending Charles I to attack the English fishing fleet which was a primary source of experienced manpower for the English war galleys. He attacked on September 8, 1339 but stormy seas robbed him of many prizes.

The Monegasque and Genoese fleets were then sent back to the Mediterranean to secure French shipping in that area, just in the nick of time as things turned out. When an English fleet all but destroyed the French naval forces the King called on Charles of Monaco for help. Twenty good war galleys made it through the Straights of Gibraltar in Winter to aid the French, assisting in the siege of Chateaureaux and the capture of Nantes. The Monegasque held their own against the English but Charles I was eventually forced to start over and raise another fleet. Thirty-two galleys and 7,000 men were assembled but were slow to reach the main theater of operations. King Edward III was able to get his own fleet and invasion army across to France before Charles could do anything about it. The scene was set for the epic battle of Crecy, one of the most significant battles of the Hundred Years war.

On August 26, 1346 the combined forces of the two sides met and in the front line of the French allied army was a Charles I of Monaco with his corps of crossbowmen alongside those of Anthony Doria of Genoa. They were worn out from heavy marching and the strings on the crossbows were wet while the English long bowmen had kept their own dry. The Monegasque arrows fell short while the English arrows decimated the French ranks. The King of France angrily ordered his cavalry to ride over the Genoese line, part punishment as well as attack, but the English arrows cut them down as well and the battle ended in a gallant but stupendous defeat for the French. Charles I himself was badly wounded and left for dead on the field yet, the tough adventurer survived. As the English moved on to besiege Calais the Monegasque fleet under Charles’ son Rainier II, arrived in 1355 to assist the French with 24 galleys and 6,000 crossbowmen.

When Charles I was not fighting the English he greatly expanded the territory of Monaco by purchasing the lordships of Menton and Roquebrune from Nicholas Spinola for a rumored price of 1,280 gold florins taken from the looting of Southampton. These lands were to remain part of the Principality of Monaco until 1861. He also bought the lordships of Castillon and Eze from what was then Provence. However, his fighting prime past him, Charles I began to look to the future and provided that after his death Monaco should be governed jointly by his sons Rainier II, Gabriel and his uncle Antonio. Charles I had earlier married Lucchina Spinola, daughter of Lord Girardo Spinola of Dertonne by whom he had eight children; Louis, Rainier II, Francis, Gabriel, Charles, Lancelot, Ruffus and Anastasia. He died on August 15, 1357. The conquering forces of Genoa would return after his death but following the joint rulership his son Louis would govern after his brothers and great uncle in his turn.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Caroline & Casiraghi News

Are Andrea Casiraghi and longtime girlfriend Tatiana Santo Domingo (seen above) a thing of the past? That's what has the Monaco rumor mills humming ever since photos came out of the 2nd in line to the Monegasque throne on the island of Ponza walking and getting quite romanitic with a girl who was definitely not Tatiana though he was seen again with her the following day. If this is the end of their relationship, I would find it a shame as Tatiana was always my favorite Casiraghi girlfriend and seemed a very "normal" girl very at home in her own skin. Mad for Monaco will follow the story. In other news HRH Princess Caroline of Hanover and daughter Charlotte Casiraghi were among the VIP's attending the benefit gala for the Miracle Africa International Foudation Gala in Valkenswaard. Charlotte was also recently at a riding event in France but did not do so well and was in tears from the pain in her wrist from her recent car wreck. Luckily, attentive mom Princess Caroline was on hand to rush to her little girl's aid with an ice pack. There's your 'heart warming' moment folks. Take them when you can.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Anniversary of Crécy

It was on this day in 1346 that the epic battle of Crécy was fought in northern France. One of the pivotal battles of the Hundred Years War between France and England the combined forces of the two nations were commanded by the famous King Edward III of England along with Edward the Black Prince while the French were led by King Philip VI. Most know this battle as one of the great English victories in history as well as all but wiping out the flower of the French nobility and being the begining of the end of the age of chivalry. However, not as many people are aware of the Monegasque contribution to the battle. Lord Charles I of Monaco sent an corps of crossbowmen to join the forces of the King of France and later, when the English followed up the victory with a siege against Calais the fleet of the Lord of Monaco was on hand there as well.

Princess Mary Victoria of Monaco

She was born Lady Maria Victoria Douglas-Hamilton on December 11, 1850 to the 11th Duke of Hamilton and Princess Marie Amelie of Baden. When the Grimaldis began looking for a suitably high-born wife for the heir to the throne, Hereditary Prince Albert, they were steered toward the young Lady Hamilton who was a third cousin of the French Emperor Napoleon III and first cousin to Queen Carola of Saxony, Queen Stephanie of Portugal, King Carol I of Romania
and Countess Marie of Flanders; mother of the future Belgian King Albert I. Princess Maria Caroline of Monaco, Albert's grandmother, was the driving force behind the "project" and she had earlier tried to arrange a marriage with Princess Mary of Cambridge but the formidable Queen Victoria was not about to let that happen. Emperor Napoleon III advised the Princess to lower her sights a tad and he helped arrange the match with Lady Hamilton. She and Prince Albert first met at one of the Emperor's parties in 1869.
The couple married soon after and within the year the 19-year-old Scottish Princess of Monaco had given birth to a son, named Louis, who would one day inherit the Monegasque throne. However, Princess Mary Victoria was not happy with her husband, she was not happy with Monaco and generally not happy about much. Even before she had given birth to Louis (July of 1870) she had announced in January that she was leaving Monaco and separating from Prince Albert and no one could persuade her otherwise. When she left she took young Louis with her and, a few years later, when Prince Albert tried to get the boy back it led to legal strife between the former couple. In 1878 the Princess began to seek an annulment from Rome. She claimed that her mother had forced her into the marriage.
Since the product of the union was to inherit the throne of Monaco the investigation into the validity of the marriage took on a special importance and the Pope appointed a special commission to handle the matter. The two sides squared off as the Princess argued that the marriage was invalid and should be dissolved while Prince Albert argued the contrary. Tongues wagged when the marriage was declared invalid and the Pope refused to confirm the ruling until it could be looked into further. The Pope ordered a new commission to retry the case and the next time Prince Albert was much more involved in trying to defend the validity of his marriage. However, the ultimate result was the same and the marriage was annulled on January 3, 1880 by the Church with the provision that Prince Louis remained legitimate and able to inherit the throne one day. HSH Prince Charles III declared the marriage dissolved in the civil law of Monaco on July 28.
That came none too soon as on June 2, 1880 the Lady Hamilton married her second husband, Count Tassilo Festetics von Tolna. They had four children and lived well enough until the former Princess of Monaco passed away on May 14, 1922 in Budapest, Hungary.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Alexandre's Birthday

Alexandre Coste, first natural son of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco celebrates his 6th birthday today. I will admit, I was not thrilled when first hearing of his arrival, given the circumstances, and I still think it was atrocious that it was plastered all over the press when it was, but none of that is little Alexandre's fault and The Mad Monarchist wishes him a happy birthday. Just beware of fansites that call him a "Prince of Monaco" -that is certainly not the case.

Filmmaker Chosen for Princess Grace Award

August 22, 2009, Greencastle, Ind. — Chinonye O. Chukwu, a 2007 graduate of DePauw University who is an M.F.A. candidate at Temple University, is a recipient of a 2009 Princess Grace Award. Presented by the Royal Family of Monaco, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA honors six student filmmakers in the nation. Chukwu will receive $24,000 to produce her next film, Chidinma and Buchi, which will be shot in her native country of Nigeria late this year.

Chukwu and the other honorees will also be feted at the annual black-tie Princess Grace Awards Gala, held in the presence of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, on October 21 in New York City.
Chidinma and Buchi is "a story about two feuding cousins (who) discover a unique way of bridging the cultural differences and communication barriers between them," notes the foundation's Web site.

Chinonye's most recently completed film, Igbo Kwenu!, received a PIFVA Subsidy Grant from the independent film community and was honored with both the "Best Motion Picture Award" and "Best Screenplay Award" at the 2009 Diamond Screen Festival.

National in scope, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA is dedicated to identifying and assisting emerging talent in theater, dance, and film by awarding grants in the form of scholarships, apprenticeships, and fellowships. Working in conjunction with nominating schools and non-profit companies, the Princess Grace Awards recognize the talent of individual artists in theater, dance, and film. Princess Grace of Monaco, known to millions of movie lovers as Grace Kelly, died in 1982.

Visit the foundation online.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rainier I, Lord of Monaco

Rainier I of Monaco, although not much remembered today, was quite the legend in his own lifetime, known for his daring exploits on land and sea as well as becoming the first Grimaldi sovereign of modern-day Monaco. The Grimaldi family had long been famous for their seafaring adventures. A Grimaldi had led the fleet that brought the kings of Jerusalem and Hungary to Egypt in the Fifth Crusade. Rainier was to earn much of his own swashbuckling reputation afloat as well. Rainier was born in 1267, the eldest of three sons of Lanfranco Grimaldi, French Vicar of Provence and the son of the Consul of Genoa Grimaldo Grimaldi, and Aurelia del Carretto who later married her nephew by that last marriage Francois Grimaldi. As he grew older he became a skilled naval leader in the service of King Charles II of Anjou in 1296 and the success of his galleys was so skillful that he gained a reputation throughout the Mediterranean for his dash and daring.

The following year, in 1297, Rainier went along with his stepfather and a group of armed men in taking the castle on the Rock of Monaco. This was the famous founding of Grimaldi rule over the area of modern Monaco. The men, led by Francois Grimaldi, disguised themselves as monks, concealing their sword under their long, brown robes. Requesting shelter from the Ghibellines who held the castle they were admitted and quickly sprung upon the guards, killing them and opening the way for the rest of their forces which quickly stormed in and took the castle. This was part of a long standing feud amongst the states of Italy between the Guelph and Ghibelline factions. It started out of a conflict between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor over who had final authority, over religious matters in particular. The Ghibellines supported the Emperor whereas the Guelphs (such as the Grimaldis) supported the Pope. The Guelph Grimaldis had been driven from Genoa by a Ghibelline victory but in 1297, in Monaco at least, they had gained the upper hand and Rainier became Lord Rainier I of Monaco.

In those days King Philippe IV of France embarked on a grand and ambitious campaign against the old enemy of England. Some might think that the Continental Blockade was the invention of Napoleon, but in fact it was a revival of the policy of Philippe IV who endeavored to forge alliances across the continent from the Baltic to Sicily to shut out English goods, turn back English merchants and hopefully leave an economically isolated England to wither on the vine. To a large extent the policy worked but the English monarch, the fierce King Edward I, was no man to trifle with and he found the weak point in the French plan which was Flanders. The policy of isolating England had effected them as well and Edward made an alliance with Count Guy of Flanders to monopolize trade between England and the continent. This quickly made other ports, especially French ports like Calais, see their profits dry up.

Another result was that the increasingly wealthy merchants were rapidly becoming power rivals for the old nobility, especially in Flanders. Philippe IV backed the lords while Edward I tended to sympathize with the merchant democrats. When the situation came to blows in 1302 the aristocrats suffered a bloody defeat and Philippe IV was obliged to go looking for help. Remembering the service he had given to Charles of Anjou and Sicily, Philippe turned to Rainier Grimaldi. An arrangement was made and soon Rainier was off the French coast with 16 armed galleys to which the King added 20 of his own though they were less well built and not as expertly manned as Rainier’s veteran craft. Rainier began training the French sailors and preparing them for battle with the English who did not have quite the same reputation for naval excellence that they would gain later. Their Dutch and Flemish allies, however, had a superb naval reputation.

The confrontation came in August of 1304 at the battle of Zierikzee. Despite being outmatched by the enemy fleet the superior training and seamanship of Rainier and his forces won the day and he earned a great victory for France even capturing the Flemish admiral Guy de Dampierre. In gratitude King Philippe IV appointed Rainier to the rank of Admiral-General of France and granted him the title to Villeneuve in Normandy. A period of peace ensued broken only by the occasional skirmish while in the Mediterranean the feud between the Guelph and Ghibelline factions went on with first one side gaining the upper hand and then the other. In 1309 Rainier established a fortified base today known as Chateau Grimaldi. This was in the town of Cagnes and thereafter Rainier was titled Lord of Cagnes. Rainier had been married twice. His first marriage was to Salvatica, the daughter of the Margrave of Final Giacomo del Carretto. By her he had four children; Charles I, Vinci Guerra (who later married Constancia Ruffa), Salvaggia (who later married Gabriel Vento) and Luca, Lord of Villefranche. Rainier’s second marriage was to Andriola Grillo but they had no children. When Admiral Rainier died in 1314 the leadership of the Grimaldi clan passed to his son, Lord Charles I.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Charlotte Casiraghi's First Interview

I didn't post this when it happened, but I thought I might now just to make this point that this did NOT just happen. Some papers are reporting that this interview happened just this last week. I saw it when it first happened and it was last month. You can go to Youtube and check the date it was uploaded. Anyway, it's Charlotte's first formal interview, the first time many of her fans have actually heard her voice. So here it is.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Prince Plans Visit to Ireland

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco is making plans for his first visit to Ireland (ancestral homeland of the Kelly clan) which will include playing in a golf tournament in memory of his beloved mother HSH Princess Grace. Lately the tourism industry in Ireland has been struggling and it is hoped that the super-rich hangers on who follow the Prince of Monaco like a pack of hounds will provide a much needed boost to the visitors economy. Kinsale Town Council wrote to the Irish consul to Monaco suggesting that the Prince visit their town (one of many). Mick Murphy, an activist of the Green Party arranged everything. He suggested the golf classic in honor of Princess Grace and planning it to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Irish Library in Monaco as a way to forge stronger ties between the Republic of Ireland and the Principality of Monaco.

The late Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace visited Ireland in 1961 when Princess Grace visited the birthplace of her grandfather John Kelly. Prince Rainier III opened the Irish Library in Monaco in 1984 as a tribute to his late wife and her love for her Irish heritage. The library includes the Princess' collection of Irish books, Irish-American sheet music, paintings by Jack Yeats and Louis le Brocquy as well as some books inscribed to the Prince and Princess of Monaco by the former Irish president and independence leader Eamon de Valera in 1961.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Elizabeth-Anne de Massy

(Melanie Antoinette de Massy, HSH Princess Stephanie and Elisabeth-Anne de Massy)

Elisabeth-Anne de Massy, one of the Grimaldi family cousins, was born in Monaco in 1947 to HSH Princess Antoinette of Monaco (sister of HSH Prince Rainier III) and her 'flavor of the month' Alexandre-Athenase Noghes. As such she is a first cousin to HSH Prince Albert II and Princesses Caroline and Stephanie and was the niece of HSH Prince Rainier III. There had been family problems between Rainier III and his sister but things had warmed enough by 1965 that she was chosen to stand as godmother for HSH Princess Stephanie. Despite being born out of wedlock her parents did marry in 1951, legitimizing her and allowing her to have a place in the order of succession to the Monegasque throne.

At the time, as Rainier III had no offspring eyes were on Princess Antoinette as the potential source of future security. This was increased when she later had a son, Christian Louis and then another daughter, the tragic Christine Alix. Efforts, real or overblown, by Princess Antoinette to take the throne for herself and her children prompted her brother to expel her from Monaco at one point, but happily her children were not forced to share her temporary shunning and over time the family has evidently patched things up quite well. Elisabeth-Anne was married to Bernard Alexandre Baron Taubert-Natta from Switzerland in 1974 and the couple had one son; Baron Jean-Leonard Taubert-Natta for whom Prince Albert II stood as godfather. However, the couple later divorced and in 1984 Elisabeth-Anne married again, this time in London, to Nicolai Vladimir Costello, dit de Lusignan by whom she had her daughter Melanie-Antoinette de Lusignan (who was born in Monaco).

Elisabeth-Anne is quite popular in the Principality today because of her extensive charity work. She is also sometimes seen at family functions and is especially keen on tennis. She serves as the President of the Monegasque Tennis Federation and of the Monte Carlo Country Club. After the death of Rainier III and the accession of Albert II she lost her place on the list of succession which was fairly far down the list behind her mother, elder brother and his family. It does not seem to bother the woman, nor does the fact that most of the attention given to her side of the family in recent years has fallen on her daughter Melanie who is very photo-friendly.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pierre Casiraghi Photo Controversy

Last time it was Andrea, this time it is his younger brother Pierre who has been photographed in the nude. It was on a family outing aboard the Pacha III on Tuesday with mother Princess Caroline and girlfriend Beatrice Borromeo when Pierre had just finished a scuba dive and was changing out of his gear that some long-distance scum of the earth snapped some photos that caught a glimpse of it all. There has been talk of some legal action but no official word as of yet. Princess Caroline has gone to court over prior photographic invasions of privacy and won and personally I would be in favor of the same this time. Frankly, I hope they sue these human trash for every dime they have. This would be an outrageous violation of privacy for anyone and the fact that Pierre is third in line for the Monegasque throne should play no part in the discussion. After all, despite what many mistakenly say (and print) Pierre is not a prince of Monaco, he has no titles and no official position with the principality. He is, legally, a private citizen, was on a private excursion and of course had not consented to being photographed and had no idea he was being photographed. There are times when attention should be expected and when "celebrities", royal or otherwise should no better than to let it all hang out, but this was certainly not one of those times and completely beyond the pale as far as I'm concerned. This disgusting behavior has got to stop.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Prince Albert in Germany

His Serene Highness Prince Albert II was in Germany today attending the opening ceremony of the 2009 IAAF Athletics World Championships' at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Prince Albert II Says 'No Tuna!'

HSH Prince Albert II has ordered all restaurants in Monaco to take red tuna off the menu. This was done over concerns that the fish is growing endangered because of over-fishing. Local marine experts have tried to reassure everyone that red tuna fishing can resume when the fish have sufficiently recovered their numbers but French authorities are of the opinion that no international fishing should be allowed in the Mediterranean at all on the scale it has been. In the larger scheme of things the restaurants of Monaco are fairly "small fish" when it comes to dealing with this problem as roughly 90% of all the red tuna fished in the Mediterranean is exported to Japan.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Princess Grace Award Winners Announced

On August 11 the Board of Trustees of the Princess Grace Foundation in New York announced this year's winners of the 2009 Princess Grace Awards for theater, dance and film. This foundation was established to carry on the legacy of Princess Grace who often helped new and unknown talent trying to get their foot in the door of "show business". The winners, 22 in all, will be flown to New York City in October for the Princess Grace Awards Gala where they will be officially presented with their awards in the presence of HSH Prince Albert II. According to the press release the winners "exemplify both classical and alternative artistic disciplines". Their prize money will go to helping pay for their continued artistic education, be it theater or dance schools and to fund thesis film projects. The award itself this year was designed by Alex Soldier.

This Award includes a $25,000 gift and a Bronze Statue of Princess Grace created by Dutch artist Kees Verkade. This year's Statue Award winners are Brian Kulick, Artistic Director of Classic Stage Company, and Gillian Murphy, Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theatre.
PGF-USA, a public charity, was formed after the death of Princess Grace in 1982. For more infortion look over to the links section and visit the website of the Princess Grace Foundation USA.

Princess Stephanie's 'Mom Moment'

HSH Princess Stephanie of Monaco has been enjoying some off time lately. She's visited Croatia but it was her stay in New York that has caused more tongue-wagging. She took her children to Broadway to take in the famous show "Hair". However, when the infamous nude scene started Stephanie went into full "mommy mode" and rushed out with her hands over her little ones' eyes. This has caused a number of people to accuse the Monegasque princess of being prudish or hypocritical given her rather colorful personal history. I find that absurd. I doubt anyone who grows up in southern France could be prudish about nudity and no parent is perfect, all parents have done things in their youth they regret and most want their children to do better. Just as her parents tried to protect her (mostly to no avail) Princess Stephanie is doing the same for her own and has spoken before that since becoming a mom she had a new respect for what her own mother went through with her. I say kudos to Princess Stephanie for being protective of her children. I just wonder how much she knew about "Hair" going in?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Jumping in Brazil

While Uncle Albert and Aunt Stephanie were partying for a good cause at the annual Red Cross Ball young Charlotte Casiraghi was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil attending the National Jumping Competition. How did she do? Extremely well being one of only 3 foreigners to place and coming in at third place on her horse "GI JOE". Her recent injury is evidently not slowing her down and she is taking her competitions seriously.

Monday, August 10, 2009

1910: Monaco in Peril

Monaco seems an idyllic place today, but in 1910 there were real fears that the small principality was doomed. The New York Times newspaper reported on the crisis which focused on Monaco being either absorbed by some foreign power or becoming (God forbid) a republic. The fears revolved around the succession to the throne. People seemed to be in need of something to worry about as the potential crisis was some way down the road. The immediate succession was secured through HSH Prince Albert I's son the Hereditary Prince Louis. However, at the time Louis had only a daughter who was not universally recognized in law and failing that the throne would pass to Wilhelm von Urach of the German Kingdom of Wurttemberg.

The French were not about to let a German presence take hold on their southern coast and threatened to annex Monaco if there was ever any real danger of this happening. On the other hand the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, would have liked nothing better than a toehold on the Mediterranean and might have championed the cause of the Urach clan which, if established, many feared would make Monaco an outpost of the German Empire. The Monegasque themselves, at this time, were intensely anti-French and had been protesting the dominance of the French in their country. More ethnically Italian than anything else there were also fears that to head off the French or Germans the nearbye Kingdom of Italy might annex the principality. The old Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia had been the protecting power of Monaco after the Congress of Vienna and had stationed Savoyard troops in Monegasque territory for some time thereafter. Finally, there were rumblings that the people of Monaco might head off all of these eventualities and overthrow the Grimaldi monarchy and install a republic (shudder).

Thankfully, as we know, Prince Albert I managed to avert all of these potential disasters starting the following year and working throughout the war years of World War I. Hereditary Prince Louis gained a greater reputation through his service and heroism in the French army in World War I, his daughter, Princess Charlotte, was recognized as legitimate and thus the German cousins placed a safe distance away in the line of succession. Another law was also passed allowing for an heir to the throne to be adopted. In 1918 an agreement was also made which allowed for France to review and approve candidates to the Monegasque throne. In 1922 HSH Prince Louis II became Sovereign Prince of Monaco with his daughter Charlotte as Hereditary Princess. However, as we all know, she eventually abdicated her rights to her son prior to the death of Louis II and at his passing the throne went to his grandson HSH Prince Rainier III.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Covert Canadian Visit

This last week HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco made an 'under the radar' visit to the Dominion of Canada, visiting several sites in the Province of New Brunswick. He saw some sights, mingled with some locals and had some R&R time. There was little notice, no fuss was made and authorities say it was not much reported because it was a private getaway, not an official visit and even they would not have known had it not been necessary to notify the RCMP for security reasons. The Prince of Monaco may have just made history with this trip. Yes, he may in fact be the first person in history to leave the French Riviera to vacation in Canada!

"Ô Canada! Terre de nos aïeux, Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux! ..."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

H.S.H. Princess Louise-Hippolyte

The only woman (so far) to reign over Monaco as Sovereign Princess was Her Serene Highness Louise-Hippolyte the daughter of HSH Prince Antoine I and Princess Marie of Lorraine. Her actual reign was an extremely short one but also extremely important as it is from her line that the current Monegasque Princely Family descends. HSH Princess Louise-Hippolyte was born in Monaco on October 10, 1697 and from fairly early on in life it became clear that there would be no sons for Prince Antoine I and that his eldest daughter would succeed him on the throne of Monaco. Out of six children only Louise-Hippolyte and her sister Princess Margaretha long survived. Practically as soon as Louise-Hippolyte was in her teens the search, and the pressure, was on to find her a suitable husband to secure the future of the Grimaldi monarchy.

By the time Louise-Hippolyte was 15 she was the subject of numerous plots, schemes and intrigues related to her potential marriage as various players tried to engineer an advantage for themselves with the expected future ruler of Monaco. Her father, Prince Antoine, thought it best to find someone who would not be so highly born as to resist giving up his own surname; he was determined that the name of Grimaldi would continue. Finally, the choice for groom-to-be fell on Jacques Francois de Goyon Matignon. The approval of King Louis XIV of France was sought, and received, for the young man to take the name Grimaldi and to rule Monaco jointly with his wife. He was not too high born but still seemed to have excellent credentials. One of his ancestors was the famous Marshal Jacques de Matignon who refused to participate in the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre against his Protestant countrymen. The couple married on October 20, 1715. Louise-Hippolyte was 18 and her husband was almost 26.

Prince Antoine I died in 1731 and he was succeeded by his daughter, HSH Louise-Hippolyte, Sovereign Princess of Monaco. However, she came to the throne traumatized by all of the intrigue surrounding her search for a husband. So much had been made of the search for, not simply a husband, but a Prince of Monaco who was expected to rule and dominate no matter who he was, Princess Louise-Hippolyte was extremely jealous and suspicious of her husband from the outset. She was not wild about the idea of joint rule with her Prince Jacques. As the eldest child of Prince Antoine I she viewed it as her birthright and duty to be Sovereign Princess of Monaco and the one and only reigning monarch. She struggled with her husband over his assuming more power than she felt he was entitled to. Jacques and Louise-Hippolyte had eight children but nonetheless they never really had a happy marriage. The low opinion Princess Louise-Hippolyte had of her husband was not helped by the fact that he paid her little attention and preferred to live a lavish lifestyle at the French court in Versailles with a succession of mistresses.

At the time her father died Princess Louise-Hippolyte left Paris and traveled to Monaco, arriving on April 4, 1731 to a warm welcome of smiling faces and cheering crowds. When Prince Jacques finally pulled himself away from his pleasures at Versailles to go to Monaco he had a far less enthusiastic reception; the people seemingly sharing the point of view of their princess. The Princess herself though they adored as one of their own, the daughter of the monarch who had done so much for them. It is tempting to wonder how things would have worked out between Princess Louise-Hippolyte and Prince Jacques but we will never know. Sadly, after only 11 months the Reigning Princess was stricken with smallpox and died on December 29, 1731. She was succeeded by her husband who took the throne as Sovereign Prince Jacques I of Monaco.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Albert I, Monaco and the Great War

August is a month to remember the horrific outbreak of World War I, the conflict that has been described as an act of mass-suicide by the western world. It is not, however, often thought of in connection with Monaco yet the principality, though neutral, was greatly affected by the Great War. The reigning monarch, HSH Prince Albert I, had become an avowed pacifist by 1914 and his background probably had alot to do with this and the Prince was deeply torn by the conflict. He was a veteran of the military having served in the French and Spanish navies and he knew what war was all about. France was the protecting power
of Monaco and there was no country to which Monaco was closer. Yet, there were also family ties with Germany. One of Prince Albert's many foreign decorations was the Order of the Black Eagle of Prussia (the dominant state in the German Empire). His mother was from Belgium and the invasion of that country no doubt struck a cord with him.

Yet, 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. He tried to convince the Kaiser that such a conflict would be a disaster for all involved and indeed all of Europe and the world. Of course, after a certain point even the Kaiser proved powerless to stop the march to war. 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.

Although not often remembered Prince Albert I of Monaco should be given credit for having more foresight than many other world leaders at the time and actively tried to prevent the First World War and to ease the suffering of those involved once that calamity erupted.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Charlotte!

Due to being on the road I may be a tad late but I still want to join her many legions of fans in wishing Charlotte Casiraghi a very happy 23rd birthday! May she have many, many more.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

H.S.H. Prince Florestan I

The future Prince Florestan I, eighth Sovereign Prince of Monaco, was born in Paris on October 10, 1785 as Tancrede Florestan Roger Louis Grimaldi to Prince Honore IV of Monaco and Princess Louise d’Aumont Mazarin. An artistic soul he never thought to become sovereign of Monaco and was not prepared for the job. His elder brother, Prince Honore V, seemed to have everything in hand and Florestan followed his dream to perform on the stage and became an actor at the Theatre of the Comic Ambiguity in Paris. On November 27, 1816 he married actress Maria Caroline Gilbert de Lametz at Commercy and the couple eventually had two children; the future Prince Charles III of Monaco and Princess Florestine Gabrielle Antoinette Grimaldi. Florestan was perfectly happy with his artistic pursuits and was not at all interested in becoming the leader of Monaco but, much to his chagrin, his brother Honore V died childless and on October 2, 1841 he became Sovereign Prince of Monaco.

Florestan was not cut out to be an absolute monarch and probably no one was more aware of this than himself. To make matters worse his brother had not left things in the best of shape in Monaco. Honore V had been, in many ways, a strong, astute and practical ruler but he left this mortal coil unpopular and the public felt too heavily taxed and generally dissatisfied with the state of affairs in the Principality and were demanding a greater voice in government. Prince Florestan was also hampered by the fact that his advisors often seemed as indecisive as he was and there was a chronic lack of good suggestions. It is commonly held that the only thing that kept the Monegasque government afloat was the driving force of Princess Maria Caroline. However, Prince Florestan should be given credit for doing his best in a job he neither sought nor was prepared for. He tried to improve education by starting more advanced schools, he tried to alleviate poverty by building poor houses and offering jobs and the Monegasque equivalent of soup kitchens. Nonetheless, people found other things to complain about such as the regulation on teaching standards and the lack of democracy.

To make things worse Monaco was about to face the biggest crisis of their national history since the French Revolution. The liberal chaos of 1848 was sweeping Europe and Monaco was not immune to the disease. As the tremors of revolution grew stronger Prince Florestan felt he had no choice but to turn to the protecting Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia for help. The Sardinian troops would be a double-edged sword however, providing a safeguard against outright revolution but also a loss of independence to the House of Savoy that had long coveted the Principality of Monaco. Indeed, as the popular furor grew louder the Sardinians worked to encourage dissatisfaction and turmoil so as to pave the way for the outright seizure of Monaco for themselves. When King Carlo Alberto of Sardinia gave in to liberal calls for constitutional government this set a dangerous precedent for Monaco as many in the small principality began to advocate for annexation by Sardinia. Agents were quite adept at portraying the Grimaldi monarchy as tyrannical and painting the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia as a liberal savior.

Prince Florestan was anxious to avoid trouble and seemed to be counting the days until he could hand over power to his son, Prince Charles, who was already taking an ever larger role in the government. Prince Florestan was willing to grant constitutional government as well but the two proposed constitutions were rejected particularly by the people of Menton. Prince Florestan floundered from one course of action to another, trying to placate the mob, trying to negotiate with them and Sardinia, changing his mind, rolling back previous decisions and so on. When Sardinian troops under General Gonnet marched in ostensibly to protect Prince Florestan many people turned out to cheer them and King Carlo Alberto. The soldiers and civilians mingled together which was an alarming sight to see and to make matters worse word came that revolution had broken out in Paris.

Encouraged by events in France, which were being emulated across Europe in 1848, the people of Menton and Roquebrune revolted, formed a National Guard, raised the Sardinian flag and called on King Carlo Alberto for protection. The King was more than willing to comply, though annexation was not forthcoming, and the Sardinian troops marched back in. The vote for the annexation of Menton and Roquebrune passed unanimously; fairly convincing evidence that it was fraudulent. The annexation undoubtedly would have happened were it not for the Sardinian defeat at the hands of the Austrians at the battle of Novara in 1849. France was also not interested in Sardinia enlarging herself at the expense of their former protectorate. As a result Menton and Roquebrune were declared free towns which no one seemed to know what to do with or under whose jurisdiction they actually fell. In Monaco it was still hoped that they would remain or wish to rejoin the Principality of Monaco after getting a taste of Sardinian occupation. Prince Charles went to Menton in 1854 hoping to rally support for Monaco and the Grimaldis but although his welcome was initially a warm one the authorities eventually arrested him.

The French stepped in and were able to obtain the release of Hereditary Prince Charles and there was some hope in Monaco that the new leader of France, Napoleon III, might prove to be their savior but Sardinian support for France and Britain in the Crimean War meant that Monaco was left friendless. It was then, with Monaco divided, suffering a heavy financial strain and with roughly eighty percent of her territory in political limbo and under foreign occupation that Prince Florestan died in Paris on June 20, 1856. It was left to his son, Prince Charles III, to deal with the consequences of the many disasters that had befallen Monaco during his reign. Although he was a reluctant and unprepared prince, Florestan had done the best he could to deal with situations that were inflicted on him by forces beyond his control. It is, perhaps, also to his credit that his son Charles III would prove a far more formidable prince.
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