Wednesday, May 30, 2012

70th Grand Prix de Monaco

Mark Webber of the Commonwealth of Australia was the big winner this year and it was an "all star" event with a wide array of celebrities on hand, including Antonio Banderas, Will Smith, Vanessa Hudgens, Jennifer Lawrence and many others (George Lucas showed up at the gala -so that's one less evening he has to ruin the film industry). TSH Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene were, of course, present as were Andrea Casiraghi and Pierre Casiraghi who was happily joined by girlfriend Beatrice Borromeo who he is not able to see as often now as she is in the U.S. at Columbia studying journalism while he is in Monaco learning the Casiraghi family business. Everyone was looking good...
The Sovereign Prince congratulates the winner

Having a laugh in the Princely box

The Prince and Princess with HRH the Countess of Wessex

Their Serene Highnesses arrive at the gala

The Countess of Wessex and Princess Camilla of the Two-Sicilies

Gareth Wittstock (brother of Princess Charlene) with Roysin Galvin

And where was Charlotte? At Cannes with Gad, outshining the movie stars

Monday, May 28, 2012

Casiraghi Craziness

The media has been having a great deal of fun at the expense of at least two of the members of the Casiraghi trio. The stories about Charlotte have, at least, been rather more kind. French celebrity experts have been saying recently that the Casiraghi cutie has been trying to distance herself somewhat from her role as the "face" of the Gucci brand. Whether this is true or not (or how one could even tell) I don't know but that's the story. The reason for this, reportedly, is that Charlotte does not wish to be seen as a model or rather as the stereotypical sort of model. In other words, she's more than just another pretty face; which of course is absolutely true. She is an extremely intelligent, educated and cosmopolitan young lady. However, I would be a little bit skeptical about this (just a little bit) because it seems to play on a rather tired stereotype of the supermodel (and if Charlotte is to be considered a model, she would most definitely be "super") which, as we all know, is that they are all beauty and no brains. I'm certainly no expert on the fashion or modeling world but I am familiar with a few supermodels and they very intelligent and accomplished women, business savy, multilingual and involved in a number of commendable social causes. What is even harder for me to believe is the alleged reason for Charlotte taking the job with Gucci in the first place; that it was basically a quick and easy way to make some major cash. I certainly know, as the reports state, that equestrian competitions are a very expensive hobby. However, it is hard for me to imagine someone with the finances of a Casiraghi doing something they would rather not do just because they need the money. A Casiraghi "needing" money for anything strikes me as a bit far-fetched, but, of course, I could be wrong. These are hard times for alot of people.

More annoying though was a recent and very hostile story in the New York Post about Pierre Casiraghi and his ongoing legal fight with Adam Hock. According to the NYP the prosecutor involved was given a report from the Monegasque doctors who treated Pierre after he left the Big Apple saying that his facial injury required him to be placed on disability for a month. And, of course, the usual "poor little rich boy" juvenile jokes and insults quickly followed. Hock's lawyers have, of course, been 'front and center' for the media from the start of this whole affair and they have been quick to lampoon the report and claim that there is a dispute between the American and European doctors. According to the NYP article the New York doctors who treated Pierre at the hospital where he was taken immediately after the brawl said he suffered only a "superficial laceration" to his face whereas Pierre has said there was a "fracture" involved. What the Hock spin-meisters have not explained is why Pierre was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance in the first place if all he had was basically a scratch (which would also tend to make Hock look not-so-tough considering what he himself said he did in the fight). They also continue to claim that Pierre and his wealthy cohorts have a history of bad behavior at nightclubs around the world which, I will say again, if proven will greatly surprise me since I am inclined to believe we would have heard about it before now. But, I was tired of this story about the day after it happened and will just be glad when it's all over.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Taking Them to Court

It was made known this week that TSH Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco are taking another culprit to court for the effort to ruin their wedding celebrations. They have filed a 300,000 pound lawsuit against the Sunday Times for libel after the paper printed sensationalist rumors accusing the Sovereign Prince of every sort of ridiculous underhanded behavior. Of course, we all know the source of this slander (and the source has been dealt with in court as well) but papers like the Sunday Times were complicit in the smear campaign and printed all this unfounded gossip without the slightest bit of journalistic integrity, fact finding or the checking of sources. Of course, if they had bothered to do even a single internet search on the source of these wild stories they would have seen that they all originated with a blatant charlatan with a long history of fraud and extortion and bizarre conspiracy theories to his credit. Yet, it was not checked and the paper mindlessly reprinted these accusations that Prince Albert was highly involved in organized crime, that he willingly turned a blind eye to rampant corruption in the principality and, perhaps most hurtful of all, that he had basically bribed Princess Charlene into marrying him -a slap at her character as well as his own.

The Princely couple have said, quite rightly, that the story caused them great distress, particularly at a time that was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives, embarrassment and damage to their reputations. They are also seeking aggravated damages because the paper obviously made no effort to check their facts before printing such malicious rumors just in time to coincide with the wedding celebrations that all Monaco had been looking forward to for some time. That point cannot be stressed enough because, again, if the paper had made even the slightest effort to scrutinize the story they would have seen that there is absolutely no evidence at all for any of the gossip and the source of these stories was someone proven to be a fraud and with a hateful obsession towards Prince Albert and anyone around him. I hope when their day in court comes they obtain every satisfaction (as they so far have in dealing with these matters because the "evidence" to support the allegations simply does not exist). I hope the punitive damages are sufficient to make papers in the future think twice about printing baseless and hurtful gossip simply to make a quick a buck. They will doubtlessly wail about "freedom of the press" but, make no mistake about it, this has nothing to do with that. Speaking truth to power is what freedom of the press is supposed to be about and that should always be protected. Spreading obviously false rumors to slander a newlywed couple hardly applies.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Latest in Monaco

Their Serene Highnesses Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene attended a special charity football match, in which the sporting Sovereign Prince was happy to participate, to benefit the new Princess Charlene Foundation to help children. Princess Charlene was excited to pose for a group photo with a crowd of her young fans.
And also, former U.S. President Bill Clinton was back in the Principality (here being greeted by the Sovereign Prince) for the special charity gala "Nights in Monaco" which was a joint effort to benefit the Prince Albert II Foundation and the Clinton Foundation. The stated goal of the Clinton Foundation is to "strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence". Whatever that means...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Tragedy of Princess Louise-Hippolyte

Prince Antoine I died in 1731 and was succeeded by his daughter, an enigmatic and captivating figure in Grimaldi history; HSH Princess Louise-Hippolyte. It was a sad day for the principality as Prince Antoine I, the one known as “Goliath” because of his great size and strength, had been extremely popular amongst the general public. It was an historic change in Monegasque history and though the people also loved Princess Louise-Hippolyte, they were not thrilled about the rules of succession set down by Lord Jean I that an heiress should marry into her own family and, were that not possible, that her husband would have to take the name and coat of arms of the House of Grimaldi. They had no great love for Jacques de Mantignon and were fairly adamant, from the very beginning, that they would bow to the authority of a Grimaldi Princess but not to her French husband. Prince Jacques was deeply offended by this and, as the public made their feelings clear and generally shunned him, he left the remote Principality and returned to Paris, leaving Princess Louise-Hippolyte to rule Monaco on her own.

During the short time that Princess Louise-Hippolyte shared with her subjects as their Sovereign Princess (a novel title in Grimaldi history) she was greatly loved by her people because of the great love she showed for them. Contemporary accounts record that she had a very maternal sort of relationship with her people, cherishing them all as much as she did her own children. The people appreciated her care and concern and called her la bonne princesse. She had not been enthusiastic about sharing power with her husband, and was often suspicious of his ambition, so she was not terribly distraught when he left, though it would be untrue to say that she never missed her husband or had no feelings for him at all. He was the father of her eight children and that must have counted for something. Yet, her people adored her and she was utterly devoted to their welfare. She had expected to one day become the reigning monarch, she wanted to prove herself and she wanted to show everyone, even the chattering class at Versailles, what she was capable of. The Princess was undoubtedly a very strong and committed woman.

Sadly, her reign was to be an extremely short one, lasting less than a year. She was only thirty-four years old when she was taken away by an outbreak of smallpox and the grief of the Monegasque people was just as heartfelt as that of her own children. Her husband found no more acceptance among the Monegasque after her death than when she first came to the throne and his rule did not last long either before it was turned over to a regent in the name of the little Prince Honore III who was only eleven years old when his mother died. The loss of Princess Louise-Hippolyte was a great tragedy, even though Monaco remained in competent hands after her death. Yet, one cannot help but wonder how events would have unfolded if she had lived to reign into old age. It is hard not to imagine great things considering the level of mutual support that existed between the subjects and their Sovereign Princess. The death of so young and lovely a person is tragedy enough, but there is an added sting that she wanted so much to prove what a great monarch she could have been and there was every indication she would have been, yet she never got the chance.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sovereign Prince at Windsor for Jubilee

Their Serene Highnesses Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene were at Windsor Castle for the "Sovereigns' Lunch" to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II of the U.K. and etc. In a truly historic photo, here we see the assembled crowned heads of the world (reigning and some non-reigning) including our own Albie. Those present are, from left to right, starting with the front row: HIM the Emperor of Japan, HM Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, HM King Constantine II of the Hellenes, HM King Michael I of Romania, HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, HM Simeon II King of Bulgarians, HM Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, HM King Mswati III of Swaziland and HSH Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein.

In the second row, left to right, are: HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, HRH Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, HM King Letsie III of Lesotho, HM King Albert II of the Belgians, HM King Harald V of Norway, HH Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar, HM King Abdullah II of Jordan, HM King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain and HM Abdul Halim the Yong di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.

Finally, in the third row, left to right, we have: HH Prince Nasser Mohamed of Kuwait, HH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi, HRH Crown Prince Alexander II of Yugoslavia, HM King Tupou VI of Tonga, HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand, HRH Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco and HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nayaf of Saudi Arabia.

Quite a royal gathering, there had been some concern over whether King Constantine would attend, thankfully he made it. And, it is also true that when such an historic gathering as this takes place, one feels all the more those not present. I am particularly distressed not to see HM King Juan Carlos I of Spain or HRH the Prince of the Asturias. One also has to wonder why certain non-reigning royals are invited and others are not. My assumption is that only those who had formerly been reigning monarchs were invited, otherwise the list would be too long and one would get into all sorts of trouble in choosing between feuding royal claimants. Does one invite Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia but not the heirs of the other German states? Does one invite Prince Vittorio Emanuele or Prince Amedeo? The Duke of Anjou or the Count of Paris? It would obviously cause problems. I also cannot help but regret that such a gathering includes no member of the Hapsburg family. Of course, the Crown Prince of Yugoslavia was sure to attend due to his close friendship with the British Royal Family even though he has never been a reigning monarch. He was an actual heir to the throne for a time, but then so was Prince Vittorio Emanuele who one could not imagine getting an invitation. Anyway, I wonder, if he were still with us, HIRH Crown Prince Otto of Austria-Hungary might have been included in the royal ranks above?

A great and historic royal gathering in any event, and it gave a chance for HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco and HRH the Duchess of Cambridge to have a little chat, perhaps discussing how they find their new lives as princesses...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Charlotte and Gad - I Still Don't Get It

Here we see Charlotte Casiraghi, last Thursday with her (I guess it's 'official') boyfriend (if you can call a 40-year old a "boy") Gad in Paris on the set of the new film "L'ecume des jours" directed by Michel Gondry. What can I say? I just don't see it. I still don't get it. I never understood what she saw in Alex and I don't understand what she sees in this 40-year old father of one either. Does that make me a bad person? I don't think so (I mean, I don't think that makes me a bad person, there are plenty of other areas in which I absolutely qualify I'm sure). The fact that some seem to think I'm picking on Gad only because of his appearance, makes me think I'm not the only one who doesn't understand why a gorgeous young girl would find him attractive. They must think the same, because they assume that's the only real problem anyone could have with him. Well, for the record, I never understood the horde of women who thought Tom Cruise was such a hunk (and I mean like from his "Top Gun" days before he went sofa-jumping-scientology-insane on us). I always thought his face reminded me of a rat. So, what do I know? I would certainly never claim to be an expert on what makes for an attractive man (though I do have very definite opinions about what makes for an attractive woman and I have developed my own theory on how Brazil is planning to rule the world via supermodels -but that's another story). Bottom line is, I just think Charlotte could do better.

I don't know Gad, I've never met him, I have no idea what his personality is like and I have nothing against the man. With Charlotte, it's different though and I am a little surprised that so many people fail to understand the difference. I've watched Charlotte grow up, I positively adore the girl and it doesn't matter if you are a friend, family member or simply a fan, when you are fond of someone you will always want the best for them and will naturally incline toward being critical of any romantic interest they 'bring home' (so to speak). This is also a bit of a special case I would think because, the post-Grace and Rainier Grimaldis have not exactly had the best luck when it comes to romance and I am sure that also inclines me to be a bit over protective. I don't have anything against Gad and I'm not terribly worried about Charlotte. She has a good head on her shoulders and has always taken these sorts of things seriously. I haven't always approved of her actions (nor anyone else) but I'm confident she knows what she is doing and will be okay. If she finally decides that Gad's the guy for her I will wish them all the best. Sincerely. But that doesn't change the fact that I think she could do better. She could date the most perfect man in the world and, sorry, I'd probably still think she could do better because I just have a hard time seeing anyone being good enough for "my" Charlotte.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Princely Pilgrimage to Lourdes

This weekend the "International Military Pilgrimage Mass" was held at the International Basilica of St Pius X (also known as the Underground Basilica) at Lourdes, France and this year there were two special guests that turned many heads, Their Serene Highnesses Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco. The Princely couple came with the Monegasque delegation, not on an official visit or part of a private tour, but simply as two more pilgrims. The Sovereign Prince did not speak at the event but did meet with Bishop Luke Ravel of the armed services and Bishop Brouwet of Tarbes-Lourdes. Before the international mass the Prince and Princess did arrange a private tour of the grotto. The site of the vision of Our Lady of Lourdes holds a special distinction for the Princely Family of Monaco and this was not Prince Albert's first visit, nor will it be his last. Prince Albert II came to Lourdes in 2008 after the visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and hopes to return again this summer with the regular pilgrimage of Monegasque faithful. His father, Prince Rainier III had gone on a pilgrimage to Lourdes to pray that Our Lady would help him find a good wife. Not long after he met and was soon married to Princess Grace who, at her confirmation, had taken as her patron St Bernadette, the little visionary of Lourdes so, it seemed, the hand of the Holy Mother had brought the two together and Lourdes has remained important to the House of Grimaldi ever since.

The Princely couple were quite discreet on this visit, with no fuss or fanfare, Prince Albert II wearing his Princely Rifles uniform and Princess Charlene wearing a subdued cream colored dress and veil. They were able to slip into the Basilica with relatively little notice but, of course, word of their presence spread quickly. In a very touching moment, at the end of the mass, the military personnel present turned out to stand as a guard of honor as the Prince and Princess left the basilica, following behind the military band of the carabinieri from Monaco.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Month of Mary

With all of the glitz and glamour it can be easy to forget that the Principality of Monaco is one of the few remaining officially Catholic monarchies in the world, but, so it is and May is the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Of course the Archdiocese of Monaco observes all the proper Marian holidays along with the special feasts of St Devote and St Rainier and others special to Monaco and the House of Grimaldi. One of the ways the Principality has recognized religious figures, including the Holy Mother, is by issuing special stamps. In the past quite a few stamps were issued with religious themes or honoring religious occasions. One such example, featuring the Blessed Virgin Mary, was this one from 1958 marking the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception. It features the Roman Pontiffs Pius XII and Blessed Pius IX flanking the image of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Their Serene Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Monaco recently paid a visit to the 'Prince Albert II Recreation Centre' to inspect the sports facilities and meet with the staff who run the establishment. During their visit the Princely couple were treated to a special show put on by the children who are being taught some important moral lessons, the theme of the show being on the rights of children in the world. Also in attendance were Mr. Paul Masseron, Government Councillor for the Interior, Ms. Isabelle Bonnal, Director of National Education, Youth and Sports, and Ms. Emmanuelle Farineau, Director of the Prince Albert II Recreation Centre.

According to an official release, the Prince Albert II Recreation Centre has a regular count of 200 to 300 Monegasque children, ranging in age from 3 to 12, during the holidays and around 100 children on Wednesday afternoons during the school year. The centre is administered by the National Education, Youth and Sports department of the Princely government of Monaco. The Prince and Princess spoke with the children, asking them about their activities and projects and probably answering a few of their questions in return. At that age, one can't help but wonder just how impressed the little ones are with meeting their Sovereign Prince. Still, it will be a memory to carry for the rest of their lives. And, of course, wherever Princess Charlene goes, she will have a special bond with any children present and this visit was no exception.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

On This Day in History

On this day in Monegasque history HSH Prince Rainier III succeeded his grandfather, HSH Prince Louis II, as Sovereign Prince of Monaco. The begining of what would be one of the most successful and glorious reigns in Grimaldi family history.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Around the World Voyage Complete

Yes, it can be done, it has been done. The festivities are still ongoing in honor of the return of the futuristic catamaran "PlanetSolar", the first ocean-going vessel to circumnavigate the globe powered exclusively by solar energy. The "PlanetSolar" left from Port Hercules in the Principality of Monaco (ground zero for all things "green") in September of 2010 and now the sleek, 31 meter long craft has returned to the "Rock" of the Grimaldis. HSH Prince Albert II was on hand to meet the crew when they arrived in port from their historic voyage and there have been a number of meetings, receptions and special parties for the last couple of days to mark the occasion.
President Clinton on an earlier visit to Monaco

The Princely Palace has also announced that a special celebration will be held on May 23 attended by former U.S. President Bill Clinton as well as HSH Prince Albert II. The gala will benefit both the William J. Clinton Foundation and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. So far more than 200 celebrities and assorted big-whigs have confirmed their attendance for this event.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Pauline!

Can you believe it?! Today Pauline Grace Maguy Ducruet, daughter of HSH Princess Stephanie of Monaco, celebrates her 18th birthday. It seems like only yesterday that Stephanie was the teenager on all the magazine covers, now her daughter is old enough to vote. Gosh I feel old...but anyway, Happy Birthday Pauline!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Princely Family Portraits

New parents, Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace with newborn Princess Caroline

Prince Albert is welcomed to the family

And the family is complete with newborn Princess Stephanie
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