Sunday, January 31, 2010

ETAM 2010 Fashion Show

January 26, Charlotte Casiraghi was there -a little eye candy for the gloomy winter season...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

St Nicholas Cathedral

Saint Nicholas Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Monaco is the national cathedral of the Principality of Monaco and the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Monaco. Located in Monaco-Ville, the cathedral was consecrated on January 6, 1875 during the reign of HSH Prince Charles III and was finished in 1884. It was built on the site of the original parish church of Monaco which had been built in 1252 and had been dedicated to St Nicholas.

Three years after the completion of the cathedral the faithful of Monaco were removed from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Nice and given their own bishop as a diocese attached directly to Rome. After an agreement was signed on July 30, 1981, during the reign of HSH Prince Rainier III, the bishopric was raised to the status of an archbishopric. The cathedral is the spiritual heart of Monaco and has seen many of the most historic events in Monegasque history. It is also the place where most of the recent members of the Princely Family have been entombed, most famously Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III.

The cathedral is constructed of white stone quarried from the area around La Turbie and is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The Great Altar and the bishop’s throne are made of white Carrara marble. The pillars are made of granite and porphyry which gives them a colorful appearance. The building includes three naves and an ambulatory where the past Princes of Monaco are buried. Lavishly decorated, some of the noted pieces of artwork are a reredos and a Pieta made by the master artist Louis Brea from Nice; two paintings dating back to the XVIth Century, a procession canopy bearing the coat-of-arms of HSH Prince Antoine I and a gilded wood altar from the Spanish Renaissance. The cupola mosaic and most of the stained glass windows date from the XIIth Century.

St Nicholas Cathedral is at the center of the spiritual and cultural life of Monaco and the setting for many national events. Pontifical High Masses are held on all major religious festivals such as the Feast of St Devote, patron of Monaco, and Monegasque National Day. On such special occasions and for musical concerts visitors can hear the monumental four-keyboard organ which was installed by Prince Rainier III in 1976. From June to September the Sunday mass is accompanied by singing from the famous Children’s Choir of Monaco and the Cathedral Choir School. On December 6 a special mass is held for primary school children in honor of St Nicholas, the patron saint of children.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Solitary Prince on St Devote Day

Another year's Feast of St Devote has come and gone and much of the talk has been focused on who was not to be seen rather than who was. It was a very solitary Sovereign Prince Albert II attending the high mass and other of the day's festivities. Of course, few could question the absence of HRH the Princess of Hanover given all that she has been going through recently but it was rather disappointing not to see the Casiraghi trio -the young faces of Monaco's future or the smiling face of HSH Princess Stephanie. Their presence was not essential or required of course, but it would have been much more satisfying to see more of a family occasion made of the event. Aside from being patroness of Monaco, St Devote is also, after all, the special spiritual protector of the Princely Family. It is, perhaps, on such occasions as this that Prince Albert's lack of a family of his own is so especially evident. Events such as this seemed to have a different sort of feeling in the old days when Prince Rainier III, Princess Grace and the children were all on hand. One cannot criticize the lack of such a presence these days but it is noticed and felt nonetheless. Again, Princess Caroline's absence can be well understood, but given that in the absence of any heirs from Albert it is Andrea Casiraghi who will one day be Sovereign Prince of Monaco, his presence at least would have been a good sign that he is taking care to prepare for that eventuality. In any event, at least everything went off without a hitch and all can join in a prayer to St Devote for the continued protection and prosperity of the Principality of Monaco and the Princely Family. Vive l'Monaco!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Feast of Saint Devote

Today is the official feast of St Devote, patron saint of Monaco, and the festivities are well under way. Last night HSH Prince Albert II participated in the traditional ceremony which starts with a torch-lit procession ending with a small religious ceremony and blessing by the Catholic prelate of Monaco with the Sovereign Prince and others setting fire to a boat resting on a stake adorned with olive, pine and laurel branches at Port Hercules. This commemorates the events of 2,000 years ago when a boat carrying the body of St Devote was guided by the Holy Spirit to the port of Monaco and more particularly a latter attempt to steal the relics of St Devote which was miraculously stopped and the boat of the robbers burned. This morning the relics of St Devote will be brought out for veneration and the Princely Family will attend a Pontifical High Mass in honor of St Devote followed by a religious procession. To wrap it all up the usual fireworks display will be held tonight. Despite all the changes of the modern world the Catholic roots and traditions of Monaco are maintained. The boat burning ceremony is a slightly more recent touch being started in 1924 by HSH Prince Louis II. For more information on the life of St Devote and her history of veneration in Monaco read her post here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Grimaldi Goings-On

Festivities get underway today in the Principality of Monaco for the Feast of St Devote, patron saint of Monaco and the Princely Family, which will last for two days, most of the 'main events' coming tomorrow on the official feast day. St Devote was from Corsica, a young Christian girl, martyred about 304 and her remains were put on a boat which drifted into the harbor of Monaco. Over time St Devote became recognized as the patron saint of both Corsica and Monaco with great devotion to her in the principality. As with many of the early Christian writers, some are now questioning whether the story of St Devote is true or if it was invented to simply provide some Christian roots to an area lacking them. Such speculations would not be so odd were not some of them coming from the Church itself. In any event, there is probably no more anticipated event other than National Day than the Feast of St Devote in Monaco.
The United Nations has declared 2010 International Biodiversity Year and Monaco's Uber-Green Prince has charged into the year taking the UN campaign very seriously. Monaco, the Princely Government, the Prince Albert II Foundation, the Oceanographic Institute and the Prince Albert I Foundation have all been charged with taking part in the campaign to preserve all forms of life which include the creation of new artificial reefs off the coast of Monaco to preserve fragile marine life in these areas.
Charlotte Casiraghi is still the subject of rumors, one being an old favorite recently kicked around again, that she and current boyfriend Alex Dellal, grandson of the London-based billionaire "Black Jack" Dellal. These rumors first surfaced in the usual places last year, of course with nothing to back them up. There has been no evidence that Charlotte is engaged and now would certainly seem like an odd time for her to take the plunge considering all that her mother is going through. I've never been a big fan of Alex (I always think Char could do better) but Charlotte has a good head on her shoulders and so far has given us nothing to worry about when it comes to her private life.

H.S.H. Princess Marie de Lorraine

Marie de Lorraine was Princess of Monaco from 1701 to 1724. She was born in Paris on August 12, 1674 to Louis d’Armagnac de Lorraine-Harcourt, Grand Squire of France, and Catherine de Neufville de Villeroi. She was favored by her parents and described as rather spoiled and allegedly took after her mother who held her nose rather high as they say. On June 13, 1688 at Versailles she was married to the Duke of Valentinois (later Prince Antoine I of Monaco) in a match that was arranged in part by King Louis XIV. She did not bring a large dowry to the Grimaldi clan but was a pretty and vivacious young girl being barely 16 at the time of the wedding. One is left wondering what was the reasoning behind the match.

Marie was a vivacious, fun-loving girl known for her infatuations with balls, parties and flashy fashions with shockingly low necklines. As taken as Antoine might have been with dark eyes and lavish chestnut hair of his young bride the two had very different personalities. Prince Antoine was known for his love of opera and opera singers in particular and considered himself an expert on female quality but while Marie might have had ideal physical attributes she did not display the necessary qualities for a wife, consort and mother. Some think the driving force behind the match might have been the famous Madame de Maintenon, longtime mistress of Louis XIV, who pushed for the marriage to remove Marie de Lorraine as rival once the King had started to notice her.

However, her marriage to Prince Antoine did not remove her from notice by other high placed young men and one observer noted that Marie de Lorraine was, “More of an elegant flirt than all the ladies of the kingdom put together”. Marie’s father-in-law, HSH Prince Louis I, tried to hush the gossip about affairs between Marie and the young men who frequently visited her parents’ home as well as those about Prince Antoine and the Parisian opera singers when he was not away at the front fighting in the French army. Prince Louis advised his son to be tolerant and forgiving of his new bride on the grounds of her youth and try to master her by winning over her mother.

At the behest of Prince Louis, King Louis XIV bid Marie to go to Monaco with Louis I while her husband was away with his regiment, where he was shortly wounded at the battle of Namur. Marie at first seemed to enjoy the independence of living in Monaco, establishing herself in a residence called “le désert”, situated at the extreme north-east of the Rock. She was not always on the best of terms with her husband, a man whose commanding size and rugged features earned him the nickname “Goliath” while in the army. When Antoine announced his return to his regiment she begged to be allowed to go back to Paris and, inexplicably, once there began to spread rumors that Prince Louis I had tried to rape her.

Prince Louis was aghast by her behavior as was most of the French court who knew Louis I as a very kind and genteel man. Prince Antoine was absolutely livid about the whole absurd affair and when he returned to Paris lived separately from Marie for six years during which Marie engaged in numerous affairs. Finally King Louis XIV intervened with her father to effect a reconciliation of the couple.

This was no easy task as the veteran warrior Prince Antoine was known to be short-tempered and according to several accounts had hung in effigy all of the lovers Marie had allegedly taken. When King Louis spoke disapprovingly of this the Hereditary Prince of Monaco retorted that he should be grateful he restricted himself to hanging straw men only. When Marie’s mother fetched her back to Antoine she had to walk through the effigies on her way to the house. Nonetheless, a reconciliation of sorts was effected which produced the only two surviving children of the six Marie and Antoine had, one of which was his heir Princess Louise-Hippolyte.

The lack of a male heir troubled Prince Louis I greatly and there were rumors that he would have preferred the Chevalier de Grimaldi, his natural son, to succeed him instead of Prince Antoine but as the chevalier was illegitimate this was impossible and in 1701 Antoine and Marie became Sovereign Prince and Princess consort of Monaco.

The couple returned to Monaco together to take up their official duties and lived together, if not exceptionally happily, at least without any scandals or disastrous public fights like they had before. However, by this time it was certain that Marie would have no more children and the future of the Principality of Monaco would depend on the marriages her two daughters made. Marie de Lorraine, Princess of Monaco died in Monaco on October 30, 1724 after having married Louise-Hippolyte to Jacques (Mantignon) Grimaldi and her younger, Margaretha Camilla to Marshal Duke d’Isenghien.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Albert II, Energy and the Persian Gulf

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco joined a number of other royals in recent days in the Persian Gulf state of Abu Dhabi for the World Future Energy Summit. He discussed his favorite topic and the concerns of future energy sources and talked to some bright locals who have come up with innovative ideas to produce energy such as a handicapped Emirati who designed a solar-powered wheelchair. The Sovereign Prince also was given an exclusive tour of Ferrari World, a new 86,000 m2 theme park on Yas Island just off the coast of Abu Dhabi. Prince Albert II is a known Ferrari fan and enthusiastic car collector. The park is scheduled to open sometime during the second half of this year.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Pope and Princess Grace in Great Britain

The American Friends of Monaco have reported on the historic upcoming visit this year of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom. This will be the first official papal visit to England in history, the only previous visit being a pastoral trip by Pope John Paul II. Catholics in Britain for the papal visit will also have the opportunity to see something from the Catholic Principality of Monaco as the occasion will coincide with the exhibition of "Grace Kelly: Style Icon" which will leave Rome and be on display at the Albert & Victoria Museum in London from April 17 to September 26. The exhibition will include over 50 items once belonging to HSH Princess Grace of Monaco such as clothes, hats, jewelry and accessories. The displays will trace the transformation of Grace Kelly from icon of the golden age of Hollywood to Princess consort of Monaco. Some notable items that will be included are some of the dresses from her film (one of my favorites) "High Society", the gown she wore to the 1955 Academy Awards in which she won her Oscar (the award itself will be on display) and posters, photographs and clips from her films.

The exhibition was first unveiled at the Grimaldi Forum in 2007 and has been displayed in Doha, Paris, Moscow and Rome after leaving Monaco. Currently the Principality of Monaco does not have full diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom but has long had consular relations with the country. The current Consul General of the Principality of Monaco in Great Britain is Mme. Evelyne Genta.

To quote the Friends of Monaco, "There is no doubt that even after her death twenty-seven years ago last September, the late Princess Grace of Monaco still remains a Catholic royal icon of great interest to the world—and as the Sovereign Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King on earth, so too does the Catholic papal monarch, Pope Benedict XVI. Together, both events, the visit of Pope Benedict XVI and the Princess Grace exhibit will draw standing-room-only crowds in Great Britain as they continue to do in Rome, if for nothing else but for the cause of satisfying latent historical and cultural curiosity of the UK masses in an era of dying icons of sustaining truth and enduring beauty."

More information on the exhibit at the Albert & Victoria Museum in London can be found at the Museum’s website at

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Princess Caroline!

It was on this day in 1957 that TSH Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace of Monaco welcomed their first-born into the world. It was raining that morning, but the mood was to be a bright one across the Principality of Monaco when the canon at Fort Antoine began booming out a 21-gun-salute. The Sovereign Prince addressed his subjects with the following message:

“In a close union of spirit and heart you have always shown your affection by intimately associating yourselves with the events in my life, happy or sad. On each occasion your desire has been to share with me my sorrows and my joys. This communion of feeling, whose comfort I have always appreciated, unites us again today in a great happiness.

“At 9:27 this morning, 23 January, 1957, the Princess, my beloved wife, gave birth to a Princess who has received the names Caroline-Louise-Marguerite.

“The Princess and her daughter are in good health. With us thank God and be joyful.”

And joyful the people of Monaco certainly were. From that day on the people have shared the joys and the sorrows of Princess Caroline, as they did with her parents. They marveled at her stoic courage in the face of the tragic loss of her mother. They saw her take her place as the first lady of Monaco with dignity and determination. They celebrated the births of her three children, mourned at the loss of her beloved husband Stefano Casiraghi and shared in jumble of mixed emotions as her father left this life and her brother became Sovereign Prince of Monaco. Today also marks the anniversary of the marriage of Princess Caroline and HRH Prince Ernst August V of Hanover; which is most probably not a very fond memory for the family at this point though the face of little Princess Alexandra surely serves as a silver lining to the cloud that has become the Wettin-Grimaldi match. One thing can be said for sure; Princess Caroline has endured hard times before; in fact much more difficult situations than this, and surely she will come through this troubled period with the same style and civility she has always shown. Happy birthday Princess Caroline! May you have many, many more to come.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Monaco and the Regicide of Louis XVI

It was today in 1793 that His Most Christian Majesty King Louis XVI of France was beheaded by revolutionaries in Paris. This tragic event had a huge impact, not only on France, but on the neighboring Principality of Monaco as well. The French Revolution had already spread to Monaco, a Jacobin club was established on "The Rock" itself and HSH Prince Honore III had gone to Paris in an effort to save his rights and lands as a member of the French aristocracy. In the end, although the revolutionary government recognized the right of Honore's claim, he was given none of the compensation promised to him and a month after the regicide of the King the French republic took over Monaco and Honore III was deposed. The Princely flag was torn down and the French tricolor took its place.

This is something that Monegasque monarchists should keep in mind as it can be tempting to view Monaco as an isolated enclave of paradise, safe from the trials and tribulations of the outside world. Ever since Prince Honore II led his coup against the Spanish and brought Monaco under the protection of Louis XIII of France the two countries have had a special relationship which endures to this day. However, it is worth remembering, lest anyone think it does not matter to Monaco whether France is a monarchy or a republic, that the only time France ever violated Monegasque sovereignty it was the French republic that did so. No King of France ever invaded or in any way harmed the nation of Monaco -but the republic did. In fact, the Kings of France and the Princes of Monaco enjoyed a very friendly relationship, helping each other in many instances.

The French Revolution was a disaster for Monaco and the death of Louis XVI should be remembered with sadness in Monaco as much as in France for a benevolent protector was taken from them unjustly. As the tumult reached its zenith Monaco would be taken over by the French republic, the Princely Palace looted and occupied and the Grimaldi family deposed, thrown into prison and in the case of one tragic princess, sent to the guillotine. Fortunately for Monaco, the Grimaldi monarchy was restored and reigned without interruption ever since. While revolution and republicanism brought a succession of governments to France in all the years since, Monaco has remained peaceful and stable under their Princely Family. This simple fact is one French republicans should perhaps give some consideration.

Rest in peace King Louis.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More Bad Signs for the Hanovers

New signs that the marital situation of the Prince and Princess of Hanover are even worse and not about to improve. HRH Prince Ernst August V was photographed again recently with his pramour, now identified as Moroccan publicity-event manager Myriam I. age 41 (the Prince is 55). The two were spotted getting romantic at an elite Austrian ski resort and the Prince is said to be taking legal action against the magazine that first published photos of the pair frolicking in the surf at Phuket, Thailand. It should be noted that the Prince and Princess of Hanover's 11th wedding anniversary is only a few days away and is also Princess Caroline's 53rd birthday. Something tells me this year's anniversary will not be a cause for much celebration for the Hanoverian couple. This has sparked new rumblings about if or when one of the two will file for divorce. It is a shame any time any marriage falls apart, especially when children are involved (thankfully in this case Princess Alexandra seems happy and sheltered with her mother in Monaco) but as far as Prince Ernst's deplorable public flaunting of his wedding vows, unfortunately Mad for Monaco is not the least surprised. Whether the pair divorce or come to some sort of an understanding and remain simply apart, I only hope they can remain cordial and act in such a way as to minimize the damage to Princess Alexandra. Whereas my sympathies are quite naturally with Princess Caroline, it has to be said that she should have known what sort she was getting when she became involved with him in the first place. There's more truth than poetry in the old saying, 'if he cheats with you, he will cheat on you'.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monaco Rushes Aid to Haiti

From the Princely Palace:

"H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, upset by the tragedy which has just struck so cruelly the Haitian population, leaving a country in mourning, the distress and the destitution, decided to mobilize the whole of the institutional and humanitarian abilities of the Principality. The Sovereign Prince asked the Princely Government, the Monegasque Red Cross and ONG to meet on Friday January 15 with the Ministry of State in order to support a joint project: Collective Monaco Haiti. The organizations responded and presented themselves, showing their will to support this project for the duration of the disaster. The collected funds will be used, in bond with the local authorities, to help with the rebuilding of the public structure mainly in the field of Health and/or Education; all while respecting environmental standards, seismic and anti-cyclonic. In addition, the Princely Government has just released part of its emergency funds in the amount of 150.000 €, by the means of the United Nations and the International federation of the Red Cross. A complement will be brought in the next days to answer the urgent call of the International organizations. The provisional figures announced by the Haitian Red Cross evoke 50.000 dead and 3 million people delivered to itself, which represents a third of the population. L' UNO, as for it, reports 300.000 people left homeless in the capital."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

First Monegasque in DC

Regular readers of Mad for Monaco will recall that HSH Prince Albert I was the first Grimaldi to visit the United States when he went on a bear hunt in Wyoming with the famous "Buffalo Bill" Cody. You may also recall that Albert I tried to arrange the trip through President Teddy Roosevelt, himself a noted hunter, but was brushed off by the former Rough Rider. Well, many years later after a World War and Prince Albert becoming famous around the world for his trailblazing work in the field of oceanography as well as his service in trying to ease the suffering of the Great War the Prince of Monaco was honored by the American executive in a special way. Albert I became the first Prince of Monaco to be received at the White House when U.S. President Warren G. Harding had the Monegasque sovereign over to decorate him with the National Geographic medal and a medal from the National Academy of Sciences. As an interesting side note, the current Monegasque monarch, HSH Prince Albert II, has long said that it was a National Geographic map showing the environment in peril that first sparked his interest in environmentalism and eventually led to his long-standing crusade against global warming. The next Prince of Monaco, after Albert I, to visit the White House was HSH Prince Rainier III who was received by President Dwight D. Eisenhower with his soon-to-be wife and consort Grace Kelly.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Circus is in Town

The House of Grimaldi has, in recent times, shown a great deal of support for "the greatest show on earth" and this year is no different. Yesterday, HSH Prince Albert II along with HSH Princess Stephanie and her lovely daughter Pauline Ducruet were on hand for the opening ceremonies of the 34th International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo. Grimaldi support for the circus first came about during the reign of HSH Prince Rainier III and has continued under Albert II. Princess Stephanie in particular has shown great love for the variety of entertainment, at one point being in a relationship with an elephant trainer with the circus, accompanying the circus and with little Pauline appearing in some shows riding an elephant (mother and daughter loved the animals). That lasted only about a year and there was another relationship with another performer from the same circus later on, but though the boyfriends came and went Stephanie's love for the circus itself has never changed. In times such as we live in today, it is nice to encourage some good old-fashioned family entertainment that has never lost it's style and simple appeal.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Princess Caroline in Court

Ever the trooper, HRH Princess Caroline of Hanover was in court in Germany yesterday to testify at the trial of her husband HRH Prince Ernst August V of Hanover; who was not in court at the time. The Monegasque princess was looking somewhat out of sorts, suffering from a cold and enduring ever greater scrutiny since the pictures of her hubs frolicking in Thailand with another woman became public but she did her duty. Princess Caroline testified that Ernst did slap the man in question, twice, "one for the music and one for the lights" but did not do so with any force. This backs up the Prince's story and contradicts that of the hotel owner who claimed Ernie used brass knuckles and caused him injury. As I have already commented, it seems to me the hotel owner is just looking to cash-in on a royal with a bad reputation. Still, especially in light of recent events it is hard to feel any sympathy for the man but kudos to Princess Caroline for carrying on and staying strong for her family in spite of the terrible time she must be going through right now.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Technical Difficulties - They're Here

Last week my main computer went KAPUT and that has put a bit of a damper on the blogging lately. Still havn't torn myself away from my own domain here to take it to the experts, so don't know if it can be fixed or will have to be replaced but my resident tech sergeant says it doesn't look good. However, I shall struggle on best I can in the meantime, but things may not be quite up to par for a little while yet. I appreciate everyone's patience and understanding as I work through these "issues" with the wonders of modern technology.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Around the World Voyage Launched from Monaco

Yesterday, HSH Prince Albert II was on hand to see off 30-year-old sailor Alexia Barrier who left the port of Monaco to start a voyage around the world, on her own, to benefit her project called "4myPlanet". The intended purpose of the voyage is to raise money for research and technology to combat global warming/climate change. The Sovereign Prince met with Barrier and her family, gave her an Albert II Foundation cap before seeing her on her way to circumnavigate the globe for the cause of the environment. Today the Sovereign Prince was in southern France to help promote advances in the use of nuclear energy and recent advances in that area. Evidently the record cold temperatures of much of the world have not dampened the Prince's devotion to combating global warming.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Alexandre Coste

Alexandre Eric Stephane Coste is the natural son of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and former flight attendant from the African Republic of Togo Nicole Coste. He was born on August 24, 2003 as Alexandre Eric Stephane Tossoukpe; his mother changing their last name a year after he was born. Prince Albert II and Nicole Tossoukpe met on an Air France flight in 1997, where their relationship started. After Alexandre was born in 2003 Prince Albert knew about it and has been involved in his life from the start, but in a very low-key way. It is difficult to say exactly what happened but a persistent rumor is that Nicole Tossoukpe heard that Albert was soon going to come clean about his daughter in California and that this prompted Nicole to make the first move and go public with the story that Prince Albert was the father of her son.

Prince Albert II, of course, eventually confirmed that he was the father of Alexandre Coste and his older daughter Jazmin Grace. However, what put many people off of Nicole Tossoukpe-turned-Coste is the time and the way she went about going to the tabloids with her story. She went to the media and went to court, filing a paternity lawsuit against the Prince of Monaco. This media frenzy also almost coincided with the tragic death of HSH Prince Rainier III, which most people thought was a deplorable time to go public with a story like this so soon after Albert had lost his father and the Monegasque had lost their beloved monarch. When the lawsuit was first filed Prince Albert said nothing out of respect of the period of mourning following the death of Prince Rainier III.

After that period had passed, six days before his official enthronement as Sovereign Prince of Monaco, Albert II confirmed through his lawyers that he was Alexandre's father. At the time and in subsequent interviews the Prince and his officials have made clear what should be obvious, that Alexandre has no place in the Monegasque succession and cannot succeed his father; the succession being restricted to direct descendants of legitimate birth. However, Nicole and Alexandre Coste have kept a fairly high profile since announcing themselves to the world. Nicole has posed for many photographs, given a number of interviews and putting her working class past behind her has become a common feature at Paris fashion shows and other societal soirees in France.

Prince Albert II has provided generous financial assistance to his son and Nicole to make sure they want for nothing and has given them the lavish estate of Villefranche-sur-Mer near Monaco for their primary residence and where Prince Albert can be close to his son as he grows up. According to EU laws now on the books, despite the status of his birth, Alexandre stands to inherit a large share of the Grimaldi family fortune when Albert departs this mortal coil. As mentioned Alexandre has a half-sister by his father in America as well as two older half-brothers who live in South America with their father; Nicole's previous husband. Little Alexandre is hardly to be seen without his mother and by all appearances seems to enjoying a happy childhood and looks to be a very bright and vibrant little boy.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Monaco Independence Day

It was on this night in 1297 that Francesco Grimaldi and his relative the future Lord Rainier I stormed the castle on "the Rock" of Monaco, first taking the fortress for the House of Grimaldi. Francesco overpowered the gate guards after approaching the castle disguised as a Franciscan friar, hence the modern Monegasque coat-of-arms showing the Grimaldi colors flanked by two men monk robes holding swords over their heads. Today marks the 713th anniversary of the Grimaldi monarchy reigning over Monaco.

More Bad News for Hanover

Rumors of an impending divorce for the Prince and Princess of Hanover have surfaced again after HRH Prince Ernst August V was caught in a lip-lock with a mystery woman while on vacation in the Kingdom of Thailand. The talk of marital discord began to spread after the Hanoverian couple stopped being seen together and last year Princess Caroline moved away from their home in France back to Monaco with their daughter Princess Alexandra and enrolled her in school there. Caroline was in the Middle East when Ernst was in court in Germany, Princess Caroline was also on her own at the National Day festivities and other events while Ernst was seen in Austria at a photo-shoot involving fast cars and topless models. Most recently, while the Grimaldi clan were taking their usual winter ski vacation the Prince of Hanover was in Thailand, obviously feeling his oats. The Palace earlier denied reports that a divorce was on the horizon, but this news does nothing to assuage such fears. I've never totally bought in to the whole legend of the "curse of the Grimaldis" supposedly imposed on Lord Rainier I that would prevent any of his family from happiness in marriage, but sometimes you cannot help but wonder. I will admit to never being a big fan of the Prince of Hanover, after all she's been through Princess Caroline deserves better and I had hoped this would work out but such does not seem to be the case. I'm sure this whole embarassing mess does nothing to make Prince Albert II very anxious to rush down the aisle. Whatever happens I hope everything works out for the best and that Princess Caroline and little Princess Alexandra find happiness through all of these problems.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jazmin Grace Grimaldi

Jazmin Grace Grimaldi is the eldest natural child of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco. She was born on March 4, 1992 in Palm Springs, California to her mother Tamara Rotolo; a former waitress and later salesperson at a real estate office. Tamara was separated from her husband but not yet divorced when she met Prince Albert while vacationing on the Cote d’Azur. When Jazmin was born Prince Albert was listed as father on her birth certificate but, the Prince said later, he wanted to keep her paternity secret until she grew up in order that she might have a normal childhood. That hope was dashed when rumors of a daughter were finally confirmed by the Sovereign Prince on July 1, 2006 following a more painful series of events surrounding the revelation of another out-of-wedlock child, Alexandre Coste, whose mother had publicized the news at a time when Monaco and the Grimaldi clan was dealing with the death of their beloved patriarch Prince Rainier III.

Jazmin and her mother visited Monaco earlier in the year and Prince Albert hired a security firm to look after her and invited her to come study in Monaco. Growing up young Jazmin gained a reputation for friendliness and intelligence. She has been an honor student in high school, a science fair winner and student of the month. She also made local news as a soloist in the school choir and once performed with Barry Manilow. In November of 2006 Jazmin visited the Fiji Islands as part of a humanitarian mission to aid the native children in the area of education and assist the community with medical and community services. She was so taken by Fiji that she set up her own charitable foundation for the relief of the poor there called the Jazmin Fund.

Contrary to the hopes of some any idea of Jazmin taking a place in the succession to the Monegasque throne is quite out of the question. On rare occasions in the past history of Monaco an illegitimate child might be adopted or legitimized by the Church to succeed to the throne but in his 2002 constitution the late Prince Rainier III specifically eliminated this possibility in the future. Jazmin is the only one of Prince Albert’s two offspring to take the Grimaldi family name and he has supported her, and his son as well, over the years and made it clear that he stands ready to do all he can for her though he would have liked for her to have reached adulthood before having the full scrutiny of being his daughter brought down on her. That the matter was made public earlier than expected was very much to do with the paternity of his son becoming public and how that event unfolded.

It would have been nice if Jazmin could have grown up without the intrusion of tabloid photographers, being shadowed by a body guard and shuttled around in an armored SUV but such was not the case. Jazmin graduated from the private Catholic Junipero Serra High School in Orange County in June, 2010 and is currently attending Fordham University in New York.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Princess Louise-Hippolyte of Monaco

Blogger Ann Lauren relates the life of the only Sovereign Princess of Monaco (so far) Louise-Hippolyte, daughter Prince Antoine I and Marie de Lorraine.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Church Music in Monaco

The Monegasque national cathedral is home to the Little Singers of Monaco and of the Choir of Monaco Cathedral. The first children's choir in Monaco dates at least as far back as the reign of HSH Prince Antoine I and was formed to assist in the liturgy at the Palatine chapel. In 1905 HSH Prince Albert I and the Bishop of Monaco (who himself came from a musical background) organized a new choiral group which has continued to this day, tasked first and foremost with assisting in the liturgy and later branching out, participating in the preservation of sacred music as well as the rebirth of such sacred music in the 20th Century. Today they also hold concerts in various places and were honored with a performance in the Vatican in 1997 as part of the celebrations of the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi reign over Monaco.

HSH Prince Albert II said of the children's choir, "The "Little Singers of Monaco" are celebrated worldwide ; the "Choir of the Cathedral" has a century old reputation. Culture benefits from their meeting, whereby the sacred and profane complement each other and harmonize with the poetry, the generosity and the melodious singing proper to any young child, as my Father used to say.

"The activities of these little ambassadors of Monaco deserve all of my support, and I commend them for their commitment and their career. Their merit is praiseworthy and so is the enthusiasm they show under the guidance of Mr Pierre Debat, himself gifted with the same passion as that of his parents."

More information on the musical aspect of the Church in Monaco can be found at the link to the Monaco National Cathedral in the blog sidebar.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Princely New Year Address

At the start of the new year HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco broadcast a radio address wishing all of his subjects a happy 2010 and discussing the year past in the Principality of Monaco.

"The year 2009 has been marked by the global economic crisis with the many consequences that entails, especially in the social sphere, even if our country was less severely affected and sees taking shape in the last quarter, signs of recovery.

"I would like, once again, everyone, to Monaco, which measures the opportunity is his to live in a free and peaceful, enjoying security, comfort and facilities with little benefit through world.

"It is my hope that this crisis will lead us to recognize the need to adapt our development to environmental conservation," the Prince said before thanking the outgoing Monegasque prime minister and his government for all of their work.

"Mr Jean-Paul Proust has implemented efficiently and the political authority which I have traced the contours in all important areas of life of the Principality. I want to remind everyone in his place, must play its full role, but only its role within the institutions of our country."

To finish up the Sovereign Prince said, "to all I ask solemnly beyond the divisions and move forward in a spirit of unity, not only in words but in deeds. I welcome and encourage all initiatives of actors in our economy who are keen to implement projects in the Principality and implement innovative achievements. Their dynamism and determination to succeed are the guarantee of social benefits to which I am very attached."

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Is Here

Hope all the Monegasques and Grimaldi loyalists out there have all the best in 2010.
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