Monday, August 30, 2010

Monaco Rushes Help to Pakistan

As most know, Pakistan has recently been devestated by massive flooding and the Principality of Monaco has joined other nations from around the world in sending help. Working through the World Health Organization Prince Albert II has sent one hundred thousand euros from the budget of the "Aide Humanitaire d'Urgence". More information (in French) can be found at the official website of telecom Monaco here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Photos from Singapore

Daniel Ducruet, Camille and Princess Stephanie show the Monegasque colors

uncle Albert gives his support

Pauline fresh from the pool

sister, father, a worried mother and brother all look on

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Code Louis

In December of 1678 HSH Prince Louis I enacted a four volume overhaul of the Monegasque legal system known officially as the “Statutes of the Principality” but also known simply as the “Code Louis”. Today Prince Louis I may be best remembered for his battlefield exploits and colorful personal life but for Monaco he was also a great lawgiver and his “Code Louis” merits his ranking as one of the most far-sighted monarchs of his time. In some ways the statutes were rather ordinary. They dealt with civil law, criminal law, regulations for the municipal police and rural police (in that time Monaco consisted largely of farmland) and many other items that would have been commonplace in most any legal code in Europe. However, what made the “Code Louis” stand out was that it forbade the use of torture, something which, while not as prevalent as in the past, was still considered a legitimate tool of the state at the time. Yet, Prince Louis I went even further than that and abolished all forms of corporal punishment, probably the most common of which at that time was public flogging. To give an example, Great Britain only totally abolished judicial corporal punishment in 1948 and such laws remained on the books at least in Canada until 1972. In the United States corporal punishment remained officially legal in the state of Delaware until 1952.
The "Code Louis" still exists in the archives of the Princely Palace and is a testament to the innovation of Prince Louis I. He also, in a way, looked forward to the land-reclaiming projects of Prince Rainier III. During his reign Louis I increased the territorial waters claimed by Monaco to 30 nautical miles in order to collect more shipping levies. When the French protested Louis I replied that, "My land is so small that I must take a bit from the sea". One wonders what he would have thought of Rainier III taking that idea so literally.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Napoleon Museum

HSH Prince Louis II, a dedicated military man, was fascinated by the history of Imperial France and the career of Napoleon Bonaparte. During his reign he amassed a considerable collection of historical relics related to the period and to preserve and share this collection established the Napoleon Museum of Monaco. Most of the items came from Prince Louis II but the collection was also enlarged by his grandson and successor Prince Rainier III who moved the museum to the south wing of the Princely Palace in 1970. There are over a thousand pieces and documents related to the First Empire and the life, battles and exiles of the famed French conqueror. The collection includes many objects that belonged to Emperor Napoleon I, clothes worn by his son Napoleon II, King of Rome, and holy images from his exile on St Helena.

The Napoleonic epic is evoked through some very personal items such as the hat worn by the Emperor at Marengo, his red leather desk blotter, the watch he wore during the Russian campaign, his signature at the bottom of a letter and so on. As for the Napoleonic Wars there are numerous related items as well such as cannonballs from the battle of Austerlitz, a wide variety of weapons including the saber of Marshal Pierre Augereau and the battalion flag from the island of Elba. Aside from the Napoleonic items there is also a great deal of historical material related to Monaco itself. On the magnificent mezzanine floor there is, on display, the Charter of Independence of Monaco given by the royal assent of King Louis XII of France, a letter written by the famous French King Louis XIV to HSH Prince Antoine I of Monaco, a collection of rare coins from Monegasque history, a similar collection of stamps and a display of the various uniforms of the Prince of Monaco’s soldiers worn throughout the centuries.

The museum is located at the Princely Palace (not in Monte Carlo as is sometimes said) and is open most days other than holidays and is closed from November 12 to December 16. Current admission is 4 euros for adults and 2 euros for children ages 8-14. Groups have a special rate of 3 euros. A little money can also be saved by grouping admission to the museum together with the tour of the apartments of the Princely Palace. The Princely Family has a great deal of history in connection to Napoleon, several Princes of Monaco serving in the French Imperial Army and one, the future Prince Honore V, served as equerry to the Empress Josephine. The history of the Grimaldis and the Napoleonic era can be seen a little more detail in this post.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Because I Wanna Be A Cowboy Baby!

This was part of a photo-shoot on the occasion of Prince Albert's visit to Cody, Wyoming during which he visited the same stomping grounds of HSH Prince Albert I who was taken on a guided hunting trip by "Buffalo Bill" himself. The faux facial hair may have been a bit over the top but anyone can salute the effort.

Prince of Monaco -'Gone Country'!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Monaco Defending the Faith

Monaco is on board with a plan to defend the Christian heritage of Europe. Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate, proposed the constitution of a “strategic alliance between Catholics and Orthodox” to defend the Christian traditions of Europe “against the secularism, liberalism and relativism that prevail in modern Europe”. The Russian Orthodox Church is not known for vague statements. This was prompted by the ruling last November against the display of crucifixes in Italian schools by the European Court of Human Rights. This has led to a coalition of some 20 countries from across Europe, Catholic and Orthodox, united in defense of the crucifix as a vital symbol of the religious heritage of the continent. Among those 20 is the Principality of Monaco which, while certainly allowing freedom of religion, recognizes the Roman Catholic Church as the official religion of the country as it always has been.

The ruling about crucifixes in Italian classrooms has taken on a much broader significance as people on both sides of the issue have seized on it as a symbolic struggle in the growing trend of secularization across Europe. Opponents of the ruling say that, since the court deemed that the state must be confessionally neutral the court effectively ruled that, regardless of history, heritage or the will of the popular majority, Europe must be entirely secular. The ruling means, rather oddly, that regardless of the democratic process any European country must be totally secular in order to be democratic. Supporters of the crucifix ban say that this issue is simply about religious freedom (the original lawsuit was brought by a Scottish convert to Islam living in Italy who objected to the presence of the crucifix in classrooms). However, while traditionally Catholic countries like France have officially become totally secular the neighboring Principality of Monaco has not and yet both have complete freedom of religion.

The Principality of Monaco was among the first ten countries to object to the court ruling alongside Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Russia and San Marino. Later on ten more countries; Albania, Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldavia, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and the Ukraine have also joined the opposition to the ruling. Obviously, this opposition cuts across the traditionally deep divisions between Catholic and Orthodox countries, united now in common defense of the Christian heritage of Europe. With Italy, almost half of the founding nations of the Council of Europe have now voiced disapproval of the secularist policy. Prince Albert II has not been totally uninvolved in the campaign for closer ties between the Catholic and Orthodox communities. Regular readers will remember the Sovereign Prince awarding His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I for his efforts in this regard.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

American Visit and Home Again

Some more pictures are now out of Prince Albert's American vacation. Here an amused Sovereign Prince and fiance Charlene Wittstock are seen during their tour of Elvis Presley's Graceland estate in Memphis. The American trip was wrapped up and it was back to the principality for more princely duties.
Yesterday, Prince Albert II met with Prime Minister Najib Razak of the southeast Asian Kingdom of Malaysia at the Islamic Fashion Festival in Monte Carlo. Besides the Prime Minister and his wife other visiting dignitaries from the Islamic world includeed Maira Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and PrimeMinister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani of Qatar.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fort Antoine

Fort Antoine was built on the northeastern tip of The Rock of Monaco by HSH Prince Antoine I during the threat of invasion during the War of Spanish Succession. He sold family heirlooms and melted down his own silver and gold to pay for the new fortifications to ensure the safety of his small country. Prickly bushes and cactus were planted along the base of the walls to serve as natural obstructions. The primary fortifications were built in 1709 but much more work was done. Huge gates at the approach were constructed, the cliffs were sheered and an underground barracks was built and a drawbridge was added by the last year of the war in 1714. The feared attack, however, never came and over time Fort Antoine began to lose its purely military, defensive function. Today there are pittosporum hedges rather than parapets and the cannon are only fired in salutes to mark joyous occasions in the history of the principality.

Time, neglect and other priorities had caused Fort Antoine to deteriorate considerably by the twentieth century. During World War II, when Monaco was occupied by the Axis forces, the major buildings were fortunate to remain unscathed amidst the numerous Allied air attacks. The harbor, La Condamine and neighboring Beausoleil were bombed in 1944 and the area of Fort Antoine was damaged. The underground tunnels Prince Antoine I had built served as bomb shelters for the frightened Monegasque population. After the war in 1954 HSH Prince Rainier III ordered a complete refurbishment of Fort Antoine, both to repair and to redesign the fortress for a more pleasant, non-military purpose. The stout walls, watchtowers and gun emplacements remain but the interior is now an open-air theater with cannonball pyramids decorating the stage to match the martial surroundings.

Today Fort Antoine is famous for its shows rather than its ramparts. The theater offers 350 seats in semi-circle stepped rows. As it is an outdoor theater one can still get a good show with a good pair of glasses rather than a seat up front. Shows, musical performances and the like are mostly held in the summer though when not in use there is no price for admittance and it is a rather scenic place to take in the view amidst the historical surroundings. It is only on special occasions such as the births of Princess Caroline, Prince Albert and Princess Stephanie that the Prince’s soldiers man the walls to fire off cannon salutes in honor of the new arrivals. Hopefully we will soon hear them firing again in honor of the arrival of the next Princess of Monaco.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Prince Albert at the King's Castle

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and fiance Charlene Wittstock visited the mansion of the late "King of Rock & Roll" Elvis Presley, "Graceland" in Memphis. The couple had some of the barbeque Memphis is so famous for before touring the mansion and paying their respects at the grave of Elvis in the Meditation Garden. Prince Albert said that all in his party wanted to visit Graceland on their American vacation, pointing out how his music had touched their lives the same as anyone else and they wanted to view the cultural landmark that Graceland has become. He praised Elvis' contribution to the world of music as well as his charitable generosity, “He was an extraordinary figure of his time and our time. His legacy was tremendous in terms of the music he created, his films, and in terms of him as an entertainment personality. The generosity that he showed toward others is simply remarkable and I think it’s these aspects of his character, his persona, that make him such a special person.”

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Prince Albert in America

The Prince of Monaco is in his mother's native land this week. On Monday he visited the sleepy Missouri town of Hannibal; best known as the hometown of American writer Mark Twain. Prince Albert II paid a friendly (unofficial) visit to the Hannibal Regional Hospital to visit an old friend of his, opthalmologist Dr. Robert Munsch. He is the first royal visitor the little town has ever had. Anyone expecting to see Charlene was disappointed and she went ahead to St Louis while the Prince made the detour. The Monegasque monarch said it was great to be in the heartland of America and called Hannibal, "a very authentic part of the US". It was all supposed to be very informal and 'hush hush' but of course word spread rapidly and soon town dignitaries were coming to present the Prince with a key to the city and oblige him to say a few words. He also took a drive around the little town and enjoyed some barbeque with friends before moving on to St Louis to meet up with his beloved. Some of the shocked co-workers of Dr. Munsch said he had told them he was friends with the Prince of Monaco but no one actually believed him until His Serene Highness showed up to say hello.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Happy Birthday Charlotte!

Today the lovely Charlotte Casiraghi celebrates her 24th birthday. She was born on this day in 1986 to HSH Princess Caroline and Stefano Casiraghi at the Princess Grace Hospital in Monte Carlo and was named after her great-grandmother Princess Charlotte of Monaco, daughter of Louis II and mother of Rainier III. The living picture of her mother, the world has watched her grow up and grow up well. A graduate of the University of Paris, Paris-Sorbonne and devoted her time to eco-journalism, fashion and equestrian jumping. She travels frequently but for the most part resides in London with her boyfriend Alex Dellal. Mad for Monaco wishes Charlotte a very happy birthday with many, many more to come.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Change of Date

This just in: the AP out of Paris reports a statement just issued (Sunday) by the Princely Palace that next year's wedding ceremonies have been moved up a week. Originally planned for July 8-9 the new date is July 2-3. The changes were made to accomodate a meeting in Durban, South Africa by the International Olympic Committee which will be held July 5-9. Prince Albert II and Charlene, both former Olympians, said they wanted their Olympic family to be able to share the the occasion with them and not be forced to choose between the wedding and the IOC meeting so they moved up the date. Isn't that thoughtful? And if there is such a thing as being an "Olympic nerd" I think the Prince and his beloved may be dangerously close to qualifying! ;-)

Seigneur Honore I of Monaco

The first Grimaldi seigneur named Honore was born on December 16, 1522 to Lord Lucien of Monaco and his wife Jeanne de Pontevès-Cabanes. He was the youngest child and only son of the bold but controversial lord and he was involved in drama and danger from the very start. During the attempted coup that ended in the assassination of Lord Lucien the Princely Family were taken hostage by the plotters, held at knife-point and threatened with death if the murderers were not allowed to escape. So it was that Honore I, at only 9 months old, became the Seigneur of Monaco on August 22, 1523. His uncle, Bishop Augustin Grimaldi, was appointed regent for the young monarch and it was he who steered Monaco through the early years of the reign of Honore I. The most significant event of the period being his taking Monaco out of the French sphere of influence and putting it within that of the Spanish Hapsburgs.

When the good bishop died in 1532 young Honore I was still too young to rule at only ten years old. To replace him they reached out to the Genoese branch of the Grimaldi clan and appointed Etienne Grimaldi, known as the “Gubernant”. He was supportive of the Spanish but was also famously sensitive, volatile and short-tempered. His rule was only meant to be temporary but he ended up essentially ruling Monaco in place of Honore I for the rest of his life; about ten years in all. He focused on maintaining independence, strengthening defenses and beautifying the country but still loyal to the Emperor to the very end, which for Etienne came in 1561. All in all he had done well but, perhaps a little too well.

Lord Honore I was now master of Monaco in fact as well as in name but by that time he was 40 years old and had never really had to be responsible before and was a little like a fish out of water. Having been deprived of his position for so long he decided to stick to the path that Etienne Grimaldi had trod; remaining close to Spain. The Spanish were very flattering in their gratitude but gave little that was of much real value. He never visited the new properties Spain gave him and remained in Monaco as he always had, not knowing how to react to the increasingly problematic finances of his country. Most of this was due to the expense of maintaining the Spanish garrison but Honore I also spent money on improvements, such as to St Nicholas Cathedral and the Princely Palace, carrying on, once again, in the footsteps of Etienne.

Honore I was definitely a ‘home body’. In more than 50 years he never once left the confines of his property. If he had one great interest in his life it was the small but time honored Monegasque navy. Unfortunately, the growing money crunch reduced his favorite hobby to literally nothing. Creditors repossessed the majority of his fleet and the last three galleys of his prized collection finally had to be sold off to make ends meet. Other than a visit from Emperor Charles V when he was quite young and a visit by Pope Paul III there was little excitement during the reign of Honore I. In 1545 he married Isabella Grimaldi by whom he had four sons; Charles, Francois, Horace and Hercule. After a long reign in which he only came to power very late and unprepared but which was nevertheless a calm, peaceful respite to the reigns of his predecessors Honor I died on October 7, 1581 leaving the throne to his 26-year-old son who became Lord Charles II.
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